Making vegetable stock is actually quite easy. It just takes a little while to simmer on the stove. Some may wonder why make stock when it’s easily found at the grocery store and easy to make with vegetable bouillon cubes or powder. Sure, I’ve used the ready-made stock and cubes, but making it on my own allows me to control flavor, decrease the amount of salt I put in dishes and best of all, get the most out of the vegetable scraps I invariably end up with when cooking.
Save scraps and chunks of leftover vegetable in a ziploc bag in the freezer. See below for ideas of the types of scraps to include. Once there are enough scraps, simply throw them into a pot and then cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for at least an hour but preferably 3-4 hours.
Drain the liquid through a strainer, colander or cheesecloth. Cool the liquid in the refrigerator overnight. (This allows any particles to settle to the bottom.)
– Store in refrigerator and use within a few days.
– Freeze in cup size containers.
– Freeze in ziploc bags. If you use ziploc bags, first lay them on a plate or cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, take out the cookie sheet or plate. This way, the bags take up less room in the freezer.
– Pour stock into ice cube trays. Once frozen remove the cubes and store in ziploc bag.
If you use scraps, the flavor does change each time you make the stock. If you want a more consistent taste each time, you can follow a recipe. Otherwise, I’ve consolidated some notes on what’s good to throw into stocks and other notes.
Ideal scraps to use
– onions, peeled
– carrots, carrot peels
– celery, leaves
– zucchini and yellow squash
– scallions, both white and green parts
– bell peppers
– dried mushrooms
– green beans
Can dominate flavor so use smaller amounts:
– broccoli, stems
– bitter greens (kale, collards, etc.)
– beet greens
Herbs, spices and other flavorings
– bay leaves
– all spice
– dried italian herbs
– garlic cloves, chopped
– roast vegetables before putting in pot for a darker stock
– tomatoes give the stock a distinctive taste and darken the stock.
– potato peels give the stock a starchy flavor
– carrots or corn make the stock a bit sweeter
– throw in some white wine for some added flavor
This stock can be used as a base for soup, added to risotto  and cous-cous and so much more.