It happens to all of us at some point. You open your fridge and see that the veggies are stockpiling up faster than you can get to them. And you know that you’ve got a certain amount of time before you must “use ‘em or lose ‘em.” Don’t fret and don’t toss those veggies! For the next few posts we’re going to cover practical and relatively easy ways to use up surplus or tired veggies. This week we’re going to Talk Stock–vegetable stock that is.
Homemade vegetable stock is the ultimate win-win for your fridge & your palate. All the parts that you haven’t used or maybe even don’t intend to (think celery bottoms and onion skins) can be combined with a few other key vegetables and you’ve got liquid gold. Homemade veggie stock not only tastes superior to store-bought, it’s also much more healthful. There’s significantly less sodium and no preservatives or coloring agents. And here’s the other good news – you can make this stock while you sleep!
This could also be nick-named the “garbage disposal method.” Basically you take all of the vegetables in your fridge (even those that might be looking a little limp or tired) and cut them up into large chunks and put them in a slow cooker. Add a few sprigs of fresh parsley (a tablespoon of dried if you don’t have fresh) and two to three whole cloves of garlic. Pour in enough water to cover everything, set it on low and let it cook for 8-10 hours. Turn the cooker off and let the veggies and broth cool and then strain the liquid from the veggies. (Toss or compost the strained veggies.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. I like to turn the slow cooker on before I go to bed and in the morning, not only do I have stock when I wake up, but my house also smells divine.
A few tips: try to have a variety of vegetables. If you only have onions and radishes, your stock might be a little flat or slightly bitter in flavor. Carrots, celery, onions and garlic will always elevate the flavor profile of your stock and parsely will give it brightness. But feel free to experiment. Burdock not only adds zing, it’s amazingly high in Folic Acid and other vitamins. Check out this post over at The Sassy Radish on how to start your own Stock Bag.
One medium-sized slow cooker will yield between two to three quarts of stock. It will keep in your fridge for a few weeks or you can freeze it where it will be good for up to six months. And remember, vegetable stock isn’t just for soup! It’s a great base for risottos, pilafs, rice and pasta dishes. This Mushroom Barley Pilaf was a big hit last month and was a great vehicle for using and re-using the vegetable stock and also keeping up with those veggies.