Okay, so, I have a little secret. I make my vegetable stock using scraps. Like really. I keep a bag in my freezer and every time I chop an onion, peels some carrots, mince a garlic, or slice some celery, the ends, skin, or even weird small pieces that I don’t include in the meal go into that bag in the freezer. I’ll toss in green onion tops, mushroom stems, and herbs that are starting to go off. Once my bag reaches what I think looks like 4-6 cups, I’ll pull it out of the freezer, throw the contents into my dutch oven, cover with water, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. And just like that I have a veggie stock. It literally costs me nothing, tastes great, and gives second life to what otherwise would be trash.
Which veg do I choose?
Now, not every veggie is a good contender for stock. Crucifers (like broccoli and cabbage) will make your stock distinctly stinky, and deeply coloured veg (beets, purple carrots) will make your stock take on this strange grey hue. Leave the potato peeling for your rose garden (#truth), and nix those delicate herbs like mint or basil.
But pretty much anything from the onion family is a yes! And most root vegetables are also a go. Celery leaves and bases, garlic skins, Oh, and while you’re at it, throw a lemon rind or two in the freezer with the scraps! Citrus will help brighten up that broth a bit.
And don’t forget the power of greens! You can absolutely toss in some chard or spinach, just keep in mind that your stock may take on a slightly greenish hue.
The ideal proportion
Have you ever heard of a mirepoix? I know, fancy, right?!? A mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah…not that you need to know how to pronounce it, but if you do, then you can pepper it into your daily conversations, like oh I’m fine, I was just sautéing a lovely mirepoix for guests this evening. See? Super fancy.) is anything but fancy. It’s just a mixture of onions, celery, and carrots that is sautéd in oil or butter and used as a base for stocks, sauces, and stews. The typical proportion for a mirepoix is two parts onion to one part carrots and one part celery. When I make my veggie scrap stock, I try to keep that in mind as I’m filling my scrap bag. This isn’t to say I’m totally married to the rule, it’s just something I look at as I’m stuffing scraps into my freezer.
If, for example, I’m using an insane amount of carrots, I could start a second bag in my freezer, one just for carrot scraps. Why, you might ask? Ummmm….carrot cake, obviously. Oh, what’s that? You’ve never had freezer scrap carrot cake?? Stick with me kid, I’ll show you the world.
The least you need to know is this: keep the larger proportion of your scrap bag full of onion, leek, shallot, scallion, and garlic bits and bobs, and you really can’t go wrong.
The Best (aka FREE!) Vegetable Stock you’ll ever make!!