Pot of Cuttings

Market Vegetable Stock

No critic goes to the theater to write about the foil. Perhaps that is why there are so many involved recipes for vegetable stocks that require the purchase of a supply of vegetables large enough to feed a family for a couple of days, only to be roasted, boiled, and thrown away. When certainly this can produce excellent stock, and perhaps sometimes it is needed, I prefer my stocks to be a foil — a background to other flavors.

Used in the following recipe:

Chanterelle risotto

Chanterelle Risotto

Notes in ingredients

Making your own vegetable stock is likely the cheapest easiest way to improve your cooking. Basically it comes down to a simple step. Anytime you find yourself trimming a significant amount of stems that will be too tough to cook — throw it in the freezer. Almost any batch of greens is going to have a lot of stalks for you. But vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower contain a stalk that is often wasted. Eventually, you will have large containers worth of stems and trimmings.

A relatively unattractive pile of cuttings is all you need.

Notes on technique

From there the technique is simple. When enough is accumulated, place in a stockpot, throw in a bay leaf if you like, and add water to just cover. Salt till the water just tastes salty (it will evaporate and get saltier). Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes or so.

I call this Market Vegetable Stock because it is easiest with market vegetables. Fresher, dirt raised (as opposed to hydroponically raised) vegetables will have more stalks that you will want to use. Unfortunately, store-bought vegetables frequently have very dried brown or decaying stalks. These must be discarded. Nonetheless, it is possible to still build up enough to create a stock even if using store trimmings.

A few caveats are in order.

  • I attempt to make this stock lighter than comparable canned vegetable stock. I am looking for an extra dimension to add to ingredients I am happy with, not a backbone to the dish.
  • I generally, add dark red stalks to a separate container. From there I can make a conscious decision to add to my latest batch of stock. Using these colors the stock and may not be desirable for appearance’s sake. For example, a risotto.
  • Asparagus stalks are also handled separately. The distinctive taste is one flavor that does not meld with the others. You may not want it in all of your stock. But to use risotto as an example again, an asparagus risotto is much better with some asparagus in the stock.
  • Lastly, again depending on intended use, you can roast the stems and stalks before adding to the water. Roast on a sheet pan at 375°F for about 10-20 minutes. Keep a close watch and turn as needed.
Pot of Cuttings

Market Vegetable Stock

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Lighter than canned stock, use this as an extra dimension to a dish, not necessarily the backbone.

Ingredients

  • Large batch of stalks, stems and trimmings from greens and other vegetables, (see note 1)
  • Water, Sufficient to just cover greens
  • Salt
  • Bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Place greens in dutch oven or a large stock pot. Add sufficient water to just cover the greens. Add salt.
  2. Bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  3. Strain with a fine strainer into a large bowl to cool.
  4. When cooled divide into 1 or 2 cup containers to freeze for future use. Should keep for many months.

Notes

Note 1:  About the only vegetables I avoid using are starchy vegetables.

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving:Unsaturated Fat: 0g

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