Constant veggie stock
(warning: this may revolutionise your kitchen)
You can never have enough stock in a kitchen. It can really make a meal, particularly at this time of year when soups and stews are a regular fixture. If you’re like me you rarely have stock to hand when you need it. Well at least, that used to be the case for me. Not now though.
In my freezer is a fair sized Tupperware with lid. Every evening, as I chop up fresh Food Connect veggies for dinner, I get the pot out of the freezer. Into it go the tops of the carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and capsicum, the leaves off the celery, onion tops, leek tops/bottoms, lower stems off silver beet, stems from herbs… you name it. If its something that would otherwise have gone straight in the compost but in fact is a little morsel of flavour and nutrients, then into my freezer pot it goes. I eat the occasional bit of meat too, so on a Saturday morning, in go the bacon rinds. If you think it will work then throw it in! You should hold back on strongly flavoured things like cabbage, or pithy stuff like the inside of capsicum, which gives a bitter taste.
It doesn’t take long for that pot to fill up – sometimes less than a week. It just sort of happens with no real effort at all. When it is full it’s time to make some stock. At this point pay a visit to your fridge. Now if you’re like me (and most people) then your fridge will contain a few veggies that perhaps could have faired better if they’d been eaten a few days back. In some households this might just go to waste but you can now rethink the more tired looking stuff and give it a new life in your stock pot. For example, last night I found that the tops off my radishes were quite wilted and limp. I cut them off (put the radishes in a sealed container to keep them fresh) and threw the leaves in the stock.
Making the stock is simple. Once you have all your bits together, add some salt and pepper, a couple of bay leaves, some extra herbs and then pour on water so that the level is a good couple of centimeters over the top of everything. Now crank up the heat and boil it up. Once boiling, drop to a simmer for about 40 minutes. Then strain out the solids (finally fit for the compost), taking care to catch the stock (unlike a friend of mine who once absent mindedly poured all her stock through a colander and straight down the sink!).
You can either use the stock immediately (taking advantage of it already being hot), or you can portion it up and freeze it for later.
This whole process is not so much addictive as second nature after a while. Whenever I prepare food now I have two pots in front of me. One is the compost pot and the other is the stock pot. Its so easy and now I have constant veggie stock, every week!
To give credit where it’s due, I must thank that legend of 1970’s Vegetarian cookery, the wonderful Mollie Katzen. This great idea is from the pages of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, sequel to the wonderful Moosewood Cookbook.