Homemade Vegetable Stock

Strained Stock Closeup


Fear Conquered: Homemade Stock

Just about every vegetable has little parts I don't like to eat.

I peel carrots (and toss peelings out), I trim tops off radishes (and toss tops out), I trim stems off mushrooms (and toss stems out), cut parsley leaves off stem (and toss stems out), pull thyme and rosemary off little branches (and toss branches out), peel outer layer(s) off onion (and toss out), peel and trim garlic (and toss out) and pull brown parts off salad greens (and toss out). Let's see, what else? Potatoes, squash, cucumbers, beets, fennel, celery (I don't eat much of this), avocado, cilantro, tomatoes - and the list goes on.

I used to toss all those trimmings out and I never thought twice about it. After all, what are a few peels here or a few ends there?

Vegetable Peels and Trimmings

Well, start saving it all in airtight containers in your fridge and you'll find out - there's a LOT of little bits that end up in the trash or the disposal. It's all still got nutritional value, it's all got flavor - and it's all being wasted. So what can you do with all the unappetizing scrapings, trimmings and brown bits?

Make vegetable stock.

Making stock is so easy I'm shocked anyone buys the boxed stuff (or, gasp! the canned stuff). Making stock is also the most responsible way to dispose of the vegetable waste - you extract every bit of usable nutrition and flavor before discarding. It also lets you save money (you're not buying stock) and cut down on waste (fewer cartons or cans to be manufactured, transported and disposed of).

Scooping Out Vegetable Bits from Stock

There's no set recipe and truly NO right way to make it. There's not even a required ingredient list because you'll be using all the accumulated trimmings (now packed away in airtight contains in the nether-regions of your fridge). You can even toss in some lemon rinds or apple peels - maybe even that incredibly hard baguette you've been using as a rolling pin!

There's not even a set cooking time for stock - you can get the stock started and then go play a game with friends, help your kids with homework or light a candle and soak in a hot bath. Easy, easy, easy - and now all that stuff you were going to throw out can feel just as loved as the lucky ones you chose to eat.


Photo Tutorial

Large Stock Pot
You will need a large stock pot.

12 Quart Stock Pot Bottom Stamp
I recommend a stock pot with a 10-15 quart capacity (mine has a 12 quart capacity).

Olive Oil in Stock Pot
Add 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to the stock pot and heat over medium heat while you prepare vegetables.

Vegetable Basics for Vegetable Stock
For basic vegetable stock, you will need onion, garlic, carrots, fresh parsley and fresh thyme. You can certainly add more vegetables and herbs you have lying about.

Chunked Onion for Stock
Roughly chunk the onion and add to the stock pot.

Chunked Carrots for Stock
Roughly chunk the carrots and add to the stock pot.

Head of Garlic Halved
Halve a head of garlic and add to the stock pot.

Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped
Roughly chop a large bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley and add to the pot.

Vegetable Peels and Trimmings
I also like to add vegetable peels and trimmings I've collected to the stock.

Leftover Vegetables from Refrigerator
I also raid my vegetable drawer and add whatever I can find.

Chunked Parsnips for Stock
Like parsnips...

Chunked Bell Pepper
Bell peppers...

Chunked Turnips

Vegetable Ods and Ends for Stock
Radishes and broccoli stems...

Spice Mix for Vegetable Stock
Next, add the spices. I use fennel seed, celery seed, cracked black pepper, dried oregano, dried dill, dried rosemary, bay leaves and kosher salt.

Stock Vegetables Added to Stock Pot
Add all selected vegetables to the stock pot.

Spices and Herbs Added to Stock Pot
Add all spices and seasonings.

Sauteing Stock Ingredients, Covered
Stir everything together and cover. Let the vegetables steam/saute covered for 15 minutes.

Adding Water to Stock Pot
Add 1 1/2 gallons purified water to the stock pot.

Stock Ready to Simmer
Stir everything together, bring stock to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Stock Ready to be Strained
Stock broth will change to a rich brown and the will have reduced by approximately 1/2.

Strainer and Bowl
To strain, set up a bowl and sieve. For really clear stock, you can also line the sieve with cheese cloth.

Scooping Out Vegetable Bits from Stock
Strain the stock. I strain mine twice to make sure I've removed every chunk of vegetable.

Strained Stock
Allow the strained stock to cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.


Homemade Vegetable Stock

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 30 min
     Cook Time: 2-3 hrs

Ingredients (makes 3 quarts)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, chunked
  • 2 large yellow onions, chunked
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 container of vegetable trimmings (optional)
  • 4 cups chopped assorted vegetables (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 gallons (24 cups) purified water
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot (10-15 quart capacity) over medium heat
  2. While the olive oil heats, prepare the vegetables and spices; add to the stock pot and stir to combine everything. Cover the stock pot and cook for 20 minutes
  3. Add the purified water (I prefer water purified by reverse osmosis), stir well, cover the pot and bring to the boil
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and let the stock simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the stock liquid is a rich brown color and has reduced by half
  5. Remove from heat, strain and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Stock can be kept in the refrigerator for approximately 1 week and frozen indefinitely
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2010 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
  • The wider the variety of vegetables, the more depth of flavor to the stock; however, go easy on really aggressive flavors (like parsnips or broccoli) or they will easily overpower the stock.
  • I usually collect between 6-8 cups (sometimes even more) of vegetable peels and trimmings before making stock. That way I'm sure to have a wide variety of flavors (and vitamins and minerals); take whatever you've collected and toss into the pot.

    Vegetable Peels and Trimmings
  • I also raid my vegetable drawer, herb drawer, onion bowl, potato bin and garlic can for anything I'm not likely to use before it goes bad and chuck it into the pot. I'll even toss in stale chunks of bread.

    Leftover Vegetables from Refrigerator
  • Don't waste a lot of time with fancy knife-work - just roughly chunk or chop stuff and toss it into the stock pot. You will be cooking everything until it's mush anyway, so it doesn't need to look pretty.
  • If you want really, really, really "clear" stock instead of murkiness, strain the stock using layers of cheesecloth. I honestly can't be bothered because I simply don't care how my stock looks. It's not like I plan to serve someone a steaming bowl of stock.

    Strained Stock Profile
  • When making stock, plan to stick around for at least 3 hours - good stock needs plenty of time to simmer in order to really develop flavor.
  • Maybe you're scratching your head, wondering why you would ever want to make vegetable stock. Here's a short list of common uses but be creative. And if you're vegan or vegetarian, you can always use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock:
    • Soups (obviously)
    • Gravy
    • Pan sauces
    • Mashed potatoes (substitute for some of the milk or butter)
    • Pan-cooked chicken
    • Pan-seared vegetables
    • Orzo/risotto

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  1. 1) DON'T USE BEEF OR CHICKEN BOUILLON CUBES IN YOUR VEGGIE STOCK AND THINK YOU CAN STILL FEED IT TO YOUR VEGETARIAN FRIENDS. I point this out because it's amazing how many people seem to think that chicken stock isn't meat.

    2) You can use almost anything in a veggie stock, but bear in mind that you can also tailor the flavor of the stock for what you're going to be making with it later, and different combinations work better than others, depending on the recipe -- mushrooms, shallots, sherry is a combo I like for gravy base, for example (plus, of course, onions, carrots, garlic and herbs).

    3) You'll get a richer flavor if you roast your veggies first. It's best to use a pan that can go from oven to stove top for this: throw in all the veggies with some olive oil or butter, and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes while they get brown and roasty looking. Then transfer the pot to stove top and deglaze the stuck-on roasty bits with some wine. Proceed with stock making as usual. It elevates the flavor nicely, I think.

    4) You, like I ought to be composting, from the sound of it.

  2. good point on the bouillon cubes - i'm not vegetarian or vegan and neither are the people i generally cook for, so i don't tend to think about it. but the cubes only add depth of flavor which can be achieved by tailoring the veggie flavors you use.

    and to be honest, i don't mess much with tailoring my stock for different purposes or recipes. i toss whatever i've got that needs to be used up right in and just let it boil away. perhaps if our city ALLOWED (!!!!!!) composting i wouldn't feel so guilting about tossing out some scraps that weren't suited for a particular flavor profile...

    roasting is an excellent suggestion, and not just for stock. roast pretty much anything and it concentrates the flavor just as you say...

  3. You're not allowed to compost? That's crazy. I mean, we don't, but we should, and I'd like to start, and certainly we're allowed. That's a pretty big "fuck you" to anyone who wants to have an organic garden in your little neck of the woods. ::shakes head::

  4. yeah, i agree it is a lame law. but in places where plots of land are close together, i guess the city feels folks shouldn't have to smell each other's rotting remains. personally, i say it's like geese - if you've got 'em, it means nature hasn't give up on you entirely just yet...


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