How to Make Stock
Making Homemade Stock from Vegetable Scraps
Homemade stock not only provides a delicious base for soups and stews It is full of nutrients too. And, best of all, it is FREE -- just use the parts of the vegetables that you would normally toss in the garbage. Don't worry if you compost, you can still use your scraps, just put them to one last use in the kitchen BEFORE tossing them on the compost heap!
Use your scraps to make stock before heading for the compost pile
Easy Green Cooking Steps for Making Nutritious Stock
When cooking, put scraps and peelings from fresh vegetables (tomato ends, seeds and juice, carrots, celery, peas, mushrooms, potatoes, outer peel and ends of onions, corn cobs, green bean ends...) and any leftover liquid from canned vegetables in your scrap bag (I use a gallon size freezer bag). You can also put leftover cooked vegetables in your scrap bag too! Store your scrap bag in the freezer until ready to use.
Just don't add anything from the cabbage family: broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts as they tend to make your stock bitter!
Preparing and Adding to Your Scraps
Getting Ready to Make Stock
I usually wait until I have a couple of full bags of scraps so that I can make several pots of stock at once - how long it will take you to fill up your bag depends on how often you eat your veggies! Once your scrap bag is full, and you'll be around the house for a couple of hours, it's time to make stock!
I take my bags straight from the freezer and dump them into one or two large pots. I'll add more fresh vegetables that I've cut up if I feel that my bag is lacking onions, or carrots or tomatoes... Since I'm making stock to fit MY cooking needs, and my family likes well flavored dishes, I also add some of the herbs and garlic from my herb scrap bag. I also add a fresh (or dried depending on the time of year) bay leaf, some peppercorns and a tiny bit of salt. If you want "plain" stock, don't add extra herbs and spices.
Just Add Water and You Make Stock
Simmer for a couple of hours
Add enough water to cover (usually about half scraps and half water). Bring your scraps and water to a gentle boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer for a couple of hours or so. I use a wooden spoon and "press" the vegetables against the bottom of the pot every once in awhile to help release their flavor and nutrients.
Once your stock has simmered, take the pot off of the heat and let it cool enough so that you can strain the liquid from the pot into another large pot. Using the back of your wooden spoon (or a potato masher), press the vegetable scraps to release the last of the liquid stock. I usually strain the liquid again through a layer of cheese cloth to remove small impurities and grit. [NOTE: I have begun using my pasta pot so that I can more easily drain the scraps once I'm done! MUCH faster and easier!!]
NOW you can throw your vegetable scraps on your compost pile!
Once completely cool, spoon stock into freezer containers. I usually use 1-cup and 1-quart plastic containers. The smaller containers are great to use when making rice, and the larger ones are a great base for soups. I started out using freezer bags which take up much less space in freezer. I sometimes will still use them, but since I am not adept at filling them without pouring fresh stock all over my kitchen counter and floor, only use this technique when my son, Bobby, is on hand to help me out. Whichever method you use, be sure to mark your container with type of stock and date made.
NOTE: the color of your stock may vary from batch to batch depending on the vegetable and herb scraps that you had in your freezer stock bag. If you make more than one batch at a time, you could always blend them before freezing.
Tips for Making Stock
Make it Fit the Way that You Cook
* I keep several gallon size freezer bags going at all time in my freezer - one for vegetable scraps, one for chicken and one for pork bones (you can also keep one for beef bones - we just don't eat a lot of beef).
* You can also wrap your scraps in cheesecloth (not too tight or they won't seep well) before putting them into pot so that it is easier to squeeze your stock once you're done.
* When making a pot of stock, use just vegetables, or combine with chicken bones and meat scraps for a rich and nutritious chicken stock (or beef, pork, fish). Just be sure to refrigerate the chicken stock overnight BEFORE placing it in freezer containers so that you can skim any fat that has risen (and hardened on the surface).
* If you are making a meat or fish stock, be sure to pick through the scraps before you throw them out to get any of the meat the fell off the bone while simmering. I sometimes wrap the chicken bones in cheesecloth and place it in the pot so that it is easier to fish it out and pick the meat off the bone.
Things You'll Need to Make Homemade Stock
The whole point of green cooking is re/using things that you already have on hand - however, quality knives, cutting boards, stock pots and freezer bags or freezer containers do make a difference. I'm sharing the items that I invested in (or keep on hand) that make my like in the kitchen a LOT easier! Although I currently use plastic freezer containers, I will be making the switch to glass (and canning the stock) as I am concerned about our use of plastic.