If you have some dried up carrots and an ugly onion knocking about, don't throw them away - make primo vegetable stock with whatever's in your kitchen.
A good vegetable stock will give your sauces, soups and beyond an extra dimension of flavor. Plus, making stock is inexpensive and a good use of leftover veggies. A stock needs no time investment or vegetable prep either, and it can freeze for ages. But, where do you begin?
Take Stock - What Veggies?
No matter how good you are at organizing your weekly meals (and let's face it, most of us aren't), you still seem to end up with leftover veggies that get thrown out. Not only is this hugely wasteful, but you are missing a trick. There's still loads of flavor in those bad boys, even if you don't want to eat them as they are!
Most vegetables can be used to make a great tasting stock, but there are some that you definitely want to include—such as carrots, onions, and a stick of celery if you have one. Definitely avoid the really green stuff like kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Cabbage doesn't add much to a good stock either.
There's no need to peel or chop, but you can cut a large carrot up into chunks. Also, halving an onion helps to release the flavor—don't peel the onion, though, as the skin adds color. Throw any ugly veggies into a large pan, and we'll continue to the next step.
Add Some Aromatics
Adding a few peppercorns to your veggies is a good basic step, as is including one or two bay leaves. You can also add any drooping herbs from your window sill or fridge. Thyme and rosemary are the best ones, but keep basil out of the stock pot party.
Have a look around your kitchen to see what else to use. The brown leaves on a fennel bulb taste great in a stock, as do parsley stalks (yep, just the stalks if you had the foresight to keep them). Add some extra oomph with a pinch of chili flakes, and throwing in an old Parmesan rind works wonders, too.
Simmer It Up
Cover your flavorful collection with water, and simmer for 45 minutes. Once it's cooled, strain into containers through a sieve so you just have the golden stock. The next step... oh hang on, that's it!
Now that you know how to make vegetable stock, you'll need to know how to store it. You can put your stock in containers and keep it in the fridge if you are likely to use it in the next few days. Otherwise, store in the freezer, where it will happily retain its flavor for months.
Did we leave anything out? Are there any particular veggies you think add great flavor to stock? Leave a comment and let us know!