Tips for making delicious vegetable stock

There is no recipe for vegetable stock per-say, but here are a few pointers to consider when making your veg stock.  This is the perfect way to make the most of all of your vegetables, herbs, and most offcuts – and other than the energy and water used to make the stock it is also FREE. 

A few bowls of scraps generated over time can produce litres of delicious stock that you can use for sauces, soups, risottos, rice, curries, stews, whatever takes your fancy (drink it if you want).  If you don’t generate lots of vegetable scraps during the week, place your offcuts into the freezer and when you have enough for a batch, then it’s time to roll!

 

Choose your vegetables – some vegetables make great stock, some don’t.  Others will provide your stock with really great flavour, others will make it bitter.

The main vegetable peelings I use for my stocks include:

  • Carrot/carrot peel
  • Tomatoes – I throw in all the offcuts I can’t use for pasta sauce
  • Celery stems
  • Broccolli stems
  • Zucchini trimmings
  • Capsicum cores
  • Leek butts (heh)
  • Cauliflower core

Basically – any vegetables you would usually put into a soup is probably good!  Vegetables with minimal flavour such as squash, beans, peas etc. are ok to use but will likely not add much flavour (plus those vegetables should be eaten whole anyway, and the idea of this stock is to use scraps!)   Avoid raw salad vegetables like cucumber and lettuce – ever had warm lettuce?  Nooooope.

I usually avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes, swedes, parsnips as they will just disintegrate and make the stock cloudy.  If you wash your vegetables really well you can probably use the peelings

 

Choose your pungents

 Pungents are any strong flavoured vegetable and/or spices that will add more depth to the stock – bay leaves, peppercorns, onion and garlic peel are all PERFECT for this.  You could also throw in some dried herbs depending on what you wish to use the stock for – add some star anise, ginger, lemongrass and soy sauce to make a delicious broth that can be used as a base for Asian soups.

 

Using herbs 

This will once again depend on what you’re using the stock for – the safest herbs to use include parsley, chives, thyme, oregano – all the stalks can be thrown in – don’t use the leaves this is unnecessary.  As above, if you’d like to make a stock for Asian curries or soups add some coriander stalks

 

The ‘sort of’ recipe

 There is no actual recipe for this – just load up a large pot that can hold approx. 8-10L water, fill up your veg halfway then top with water!  Aim for an approximate ratio of 2:! With your vegetables and pungents – don’t want garlic water do we?

With regards to cooking times, the longer the better.  Being a vegetable stock it doesn’t require the lengthy process of its animal bone based counterpart, but you wanna inject that flavourless water with as much of those delicious ingredients as possible – 2-3 hours on a simmer is good.  I find a pressure cooker is perfect for this – chuck it all in on low pressure for 90 mins and you get the nicest most delicious stock!

Once it’s a nice flavour (you can taste as you go) you can add salt if you wish for a more ‘store bought’ style stock that is heavily seasoned.  Otherwise, drain out the liquid, let it cool, put into containers and freeze or use straight away!

 

Happy scrapping!

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