There are lots of recipes out there for vegetable stock and broth, but I tend not to follow any of them. It seems a shame to take vegetables at their peak and cook the dickens out of them, then throw them away. I prefer to make stock from vegetable scraps, instead. Whenever I prepare fresh veggies, I put the peelings in a container in the freezer. When the container is full, I pull it out and empty the contents into my crock pot. My latest batch included:
- onion and garlic peels
- carrot peelings
- outer leaves of cauliflower and cabbage
- beet skins
- radish trimmings
- an apple core (because why not?)
- baby carrots that had dried out too much to snack on raw
Trimmings from cabbage, cauliflower and related vegetables have a pretty strong flavor, so I try to keep them to less than 20 percent of the volume. Depending on your tastes, you might want to skip them altogether.
Since there weren’t many onion skins in my freezer container, I cut an extra onion into quarters and added it to the mix. If you have fresh or dried parsley, add some to the pot.
I also added:
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon Spike salt-free seasoning
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon rosemary
- a 2-inch by 4-inch piece of kombu seaweed
Then I poured filtered water into the pot until it was full.
The goal is to heat the stock slowly until the vegetables are soft and flavorless (all their flavor has moved into the broth). You don’t want it to boil vigorously, because that can impart a bitter flavor to the stock, which is why slow cooking is such a great way to prepare it.
I heated this batch on low for 5 hours until the water began bubbling rapidly, then turned it to warm for an hour. I turned it off when the onion was soft, then took the lid off and let it cool a little.
Finally, I strained it through a sieve, pressing down the veggies with the back of a spoon to express as much liquid as possible. I let the stock cool a little more, then froze it into ice cube trays for later use.
Each cube equals about 2 tablespoons of stock; 8 cubes equal about a cup.