Use Old Vegetables to Make Vegetable Stock: Tips & Tricks

Finished vegetable broth

Finished vegetable broth (Photo credit: Pirate Alice)

I’m a big fan of raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, and cabbage. Okay, I didn’t mean for that alliteration, but that just happens to be in my veggie drawer of the fridge right now. I love them, but fresh produce doesn’t last a spectacularly long time. When the celery starts to go limp, or the carrots are getting soft, I’m no longer interested in eating them raw.

But I’m allergic to food waste. Throwing away food actually makes me what to cry. Fortunately, there is a third option. You can use these expiring vegetables to make vegetable stock.

Making a stock from old vegetables is very simple. If you have ever made turkey soup from your the carcass of your Thanksgiving turkey, then the process is very similar. In fact, the first step of making that soup is making turkey stock from the carcass. There is a lot of flavor to be extracted from the bones and cartiledge, as well as meat you couldn’t get off. Making vegetable stock is the same way. You are try to extract all of the flavor from the vegetables that are still edible, but no longer fit to eat.

Making a vegetable stock is quite simple. It will take some time, but very little of this time needs to be spent in the kitchen. The rest of the time, you can relax watching tv (or reading this blog).

To get started you need:

  • a cutting board
  • chef’s knife (in a pinch, a paring knife works. So does any of the random non-serrated blades in your knife blck that you never use for anything)
  • a stock pot (any large pot will really do if you don’t have a stock pot)
  • some old vegetables

From there, using old vegetables to make stock is as easy as 1,2,3,4 (That song is my ringtone for my wife).

  1. To make a stock, first chop the vegetables into large pieces. If any parts of the vegetable are bad, just them off and toss. The rest is fine to use for making stock, since you will be boiling it. You want small enough to cook down quickly and easily, but not so small that they will fit through the strainer when done. I usually cut my vegetables into 2″ chunks.
  2. Dump the vegetable pieces into your pot with cold water. Exactly how much water you should use depends on how many vegetables you have and how much stock you want to make. In the past, I’ve used about 2-3 cups of veggies and half a gallon of water.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Simmer gently so that it is just barely boiling. A rolling boil can produce a cloudy broth and will overcook the vegetables; you will wind up with mush in your stock. Simmer for half an hour.
  4. Use a strainer to remove your vegetables. You can now throw these away without a guilty conscious because you’ve extracted all of the flavor and nutrients from them.

Once it cools, you can spoon into baggies and freeze, just like with leftover gravy. When it’s time to make soup, you can pull one out, thaw it, and use it.

Today’s tip comes from Laurie at Baked Lava. Her mission is to cook food from every cuisine in the world, all from her little RV kitchen in Washington state.

How do you use old vegetables? Do you make stock, or just throw it away?

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