July 13, 2009

You Can Do It: Homemade Vegetable Stock

It is my sincere belief that canned and dried stocks are gross. Whether chicken, beef, or vegetable, canned stocks are always so...canned tasting that they overpower the dish they're supposed to enhance. Dried stocks (like bouillabaisse cubes) are usually too salty, and nothing that comes in a tin foil-wrapped cube can be very natural, n'est-ce pas?

Given how easy it is to make your own stock, I'm going to go ahead and make the claim that there's no excuse for store bought stock. One of the first things I taught myself to make this year was vegetable stock, and I keep a few containers of it in the freezer at all times.

There are two main benefits to cooking with stock. First, it's an instant flavor boost to any dish. Don't want bland rice again? Replace some or all of the cooking water with stock and see how much the flavor improves. Second, you can make stock with almost anything, and it's a great way to make use of those old vegetables that have lost their crunch from sitting in your fridge for too long but are still edible.

My recipe for homemade vegetable stock is below. The batch I photographed was a simple homemade celery stock, but the effect is the same no matter how many or few vegetables you add.

Homemade Vegetable Stock
  • Two carrots, roughly chopped
  • Two celery hearts (the paler, leafy part at the center), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • Two cloves of peeled whole garlic
  • 4-5 quarts of water (it's up to you--the less water, the stronger your stock will be)
  1. Place vegetables in a large pot or dutch oven, and add the water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce to a low-medium heat, and let simmer for as long as you have. I like to let my stock cook for at least an hour, but you can get a pretty good concentration of flavor after just 45 minutes.
  3. Let the mixture cool a bit, then strain out the vegetables. Use or freeze as you see fit.
**One note on peppers: they aren't good for making stock. They make it bitter.**

Now do you see what I mean? Making your own stock is easy, and it will improve the flavor of your dishes a lot. Plus, you're cutting out the additives and high sodium content of canned and dried stocks sold at most grocery stores. Hooray!

No comments:

Post a Comment