Vegetable stock is a kitchen staple that is not only easy to make but is also a great way to use up vegetable scraps.
I first made vegetable stock when my eldest was a baby because it is much healthier than the store-bought versions which are often loaded with salts and additives.
I now make it as a way to use up vegetables that are past their prime, or vegetable scraps that I have collected.
WHAT IS VEGETABLE STOCK AND WHY MAKE YOUR OWN
Although I call this stock, technically I should call it broth. This is because stock refers to a liquid that has had bones simmered in it. If there are no bones, it’s not really stock, but rather a broth. However, I have grown up knowing it as stock so this is what I call it!
Vegetable stock (or technically broth) is a liquid made with vegetables, herbs and water. It is simmered for around an hour and is used as a basis for a tasty soup or as the liquid component in dishes such as stews, curries, sauces and risotto
Making your own
- allows you to control ingredients to suit your family’s age/stage and dietary requirements.
- makes good use of leftover vegetable scraps or vegetables on the turn, which would otherwise be discarded.
- It saves you buying boxed and cubed stock.
VEGETABLE STOCK INGREDIENT TIPS
Vegetables that work well
Onions, carrots, and celery are staples in vegetable stock, but other vegetables, in smaller amounts, can add depth and extra flavour.
Leeks, spring onion, garlic, parsnips, squash, capsicum (bell peppers), mushrooms & corn cobs are all great. In addition, herbs, like parsley, can deepen the flavour.
Vegetables to avoid
Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cabbage, turnips and Brussels sprouts, should be avoided when making stock. They tend to give off a sour note when simmered for a long period of time.
Beetroots or purple carrots should also be avoided as they will discolour your stock.
Although stocks are a great way to use up vegetables that are starting to wilt, mouldy or rotten vegetables should be avoided.
Vegetable scraps are great for stock. Wash and save roots, stalks, leaves, ends, and peelings from a range of vegetables and herbs. Store in the freezer, in an airtight bag or container, until ready to use.
Herbs, Spices and Extra Flavours
Depending on what you plan to use your stock for, you can add various ingredients to add more flavour.
For Asian inspired dishes you may wish to throw in ginger, lemongrass, star anise and/or coriander.
Parmesan rinds and Italian (fresh) herbs are great for flavouring stock if you plan to use it in Italian dishes.
If you like a sweeter stock, sweet potato, parsnip, pumpkin and corn cobs will all add sweetness.
For extra depth try adding a range of herbs, tomato paste (will turn it red) or nutritional yeast.
HOW TO STORE VEGETABLE STOCK
Cool the stock and transfer it to airtight containers. Refrigerate immediately and keep for up to 4 days.
Cool then transfer to airtight, freezable containers. The stock will last 4-6 months in the freezer.
Once thawed you can not refreeze, it is, therefore, a good idea to freeze in small amounts. This way you can just take what you need from the freezer.
If cooking for a baby it is a good idea to freeze in ice cube trays. You only need small amounts so doing this allows for very little wastage. Once frozen in the ice-cube trays, transfer to a freezable container/ziplock bag.
If cooking for a family, you may wish to freeze in larger amounts. Around 500ml (2 cups) is a useful amount to freeze per container.
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An easy one-pot vegetable stock recipe. Great for using when cooking for babies.
- 1 onion (including skin)
- 1 leek
- 2 large carrots (including peel)
- 2 celery stalks (and leaves)
- 1 bunch parsley
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 10 peppercorns
- 1.5 litres (1.5 US Quarts) water *SEE NOTE 1
Wash and roughly chop all the vegetables
Add the vegetables along with the herbs and peppercorns to a large pot and fill with the water.
On medium heat, heat until it reaches a boil. Immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Partially cover and simmer for around 1 hour. (SEE NOTE 2)
Strain, season to taste (SEE NOTE 3), and discard the solids.
- These ingredients are a rough guide. You can add other veggies / herbs to change the flavour profile. (See above post for recommendations)
- It is important that you keep an eye on your stock, don't allow it to rapidly boil as it will destroy flavours.
- Remember stock is an ingredient, not a finished product. It should have a vegetable taste but shouldn't be overpowering. It is not a soup. A little seasoning can bring out flavour but think about the dishes you are using it in. Do not season if using to make baby food.