Any chef will point to stock as an easy way to add flavor. I use stocks the most from fall to spring, as the base for soups, to flavor rice or beans, and to round out sauces. Although you can simply use water in many of these dishes for the same effect, swapping in a stock gives a jump-start to a tasty meal.
Although many recipes include a stock in the ingredient list, they don’t mention how easy it is to make, either on the spot or in a large batch to freeze so that you always have a bit on hand. Store-bought stocks and broths may seem easier, but they add to your grocery bill, tend to be loaded with salt and preservatives, and can be thick enough that instead of giving light undertones of flavor they overpower a dish. When I make stock, it feels cost-free and effortless: I use whatever’s at hand, rather than buying ingredients specifically for it, and it happens in the background of my day, simmering on the stove while I prepare a meal or check other tasks off my to-do list.
This week, in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, I share a stock recipe that uses whole vegetables so that you can learn the technique for making stock. Once you get a sense of the balance, you can swap in other vegetables and scraps so that you don’t spend time or money buying ingredients.
Learn more about making stocks and get the complete recipe for Homemade Vegetable Stock in my column.
Twice as Tasty
I make most of my stocks with trimmings, scraps, and produce damaged during harvest or approaching the end of its shelf life—food that would otherwise end up in the compost or trash. Even if I use whole vegetables, they aren’t pristine: Potatoes nicked while digging or sprouting early. Onions that show signs of softening or bruising. Carrots and celery gone limp. Lemon already zested or drying out. Mushrooms oxidized and shriveling. Garlic starting to sprout.
You can also deliberately save scraps and trimmings from pristine vegetables for stock. If you typically fill a countertop compost bucket with vegetable scraps in a couple of days, you can likely just divert appropriate trimmings to a bag in the refrigerator and make stock later that week. If it takes you longer to generate a half-gallon of scraps, stick your collection bag in the freezer, making stock once it’s full. These full-pot stocks can be used immediately or divided into the portions you use most often and frozen for later use.
If you’re prepping a soup or other dish that includes a lot of vegetables and calls for a stock, you can make a fresh one: Peel and trim your vegetables, toss those scraps in a pot of water, and let it simmer while you chop the vegetables and prep the other ingredients you need for your meal. You can favor particular vegetable trimmings to make, say, a fresh mushroom stock or corncob stock. You can also go beyond vegetables: For a fresh shrimp stock for risotto, buy raw shrimp and simmer the shells with the vegetable trimmings while you prep the risotto’s other ingredients.
Here are some recipes to help guide you as you make stocks from whole vegetables, collected scraps, or fresh trimmings. You can find recipes that use stocks in the recipe index.
If freezer storage is an issue and you use a safe recipe, technique, and equipment, some stocks can be processed in a pressure canner for shelf storage. You can learn more about eating from top to root in this blog post.
Want more Twice as Tasty recipes? Get my books! Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy of The Complete Guide to Pickling directly from me. I also share tasty ways to use pickles in The Pickled Picnic; it’s only available here.