Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Veggie Stock

The last several days have been rainy and cold around here, and I find myself only wanting to eat warming soups and stews.  I realized the other day I was out of vegetable broth and needed to make a new batch.  I thought I would share this really easy process with you all.  This is one of those super simple, money saving things you can do to decrease the grocery bill and boost the nutrient content in meals.

Store bought vegetable broths often contain incredibly high levels of sodium.  They also tend to be expensive.  Making a homemade vegetable broth is so simple you might laugh!

Vegetable broth is a wonderful addition to soups, stews, sauces, and in cooking grains.  The broth not only adds a subtle, delicious flavor but also an extra nutritional punch.  Vegetable broth is also great for upset tummies, whether it is a little kiddo with the flu or a nauseated pregnant mama.  I sipped on veggie broth early on in my labor, which was light enough to not make me sick but also had enough nutrients to give me the energy for birthing.  Vegetable broth can also help restore a healthy PH to the body.   Can you tell yet that I like veggie broth?

To make the broth you need a variety of vegetables or even scraps of vegetables.  Peels of garlic and potatoes can be used, as well as celery leaves and tops of carrots.  I also like to use the stalks of kale leaves and other herbs.  Notice the parts of veggies that you might typically throw away and begin to save them for making stock.  A nice trick is to put a ziploc bag or container in the freezer for these scraps.  When you make a meal toss the peels, scraps, and stalks into this bag or container and it will slowly begin to fill up over time.  Once it looks like there is quite a bit in there you can make a stock with it. 

For my latest batch of stock I used garlic (no need to take it out of the peel), parsley, celery, chives,carrots, and onion. I had it all on hand and a couple of things needed to be used before they went bad.  Making stock is a great way to use up veggies that might be on the verge of going bad.

I added the veggies to a big stock and then filled it up with water.  I brought it to a boil.  Next I turned it to low and I let it simmer on the stove for a couple of hours.  It makes the house smell so good, especially on a cold, damp day.  This can be done in a crock pot as well.  Let it simmer for 8 hours and it turns out just wonderfully.  The final step is to simply strain the broth.  Discard the veggies to the compost or trash.  Viola'. Easy, inexpensive, nutritious vegetable broth.

Other ideas of  things to add to vegetable stock are chopped potatoes, kelp, leafy greens, parsnips, turnips, stalks of broccoli and cauliflower, cilantro, and mushrooms. 

 When I do make broth I try to make a big batch.

I strained the broth and put it into mason jars.  I then put them in my deep freeze.  This is nice this time of year when our freezer is getting low from all of the stuff we preserved last season.  If you are feeling ambitious, canning them is an option as well.

I got all the above jars from those two stock pots of veggies and water.  I'd say it's worth it!

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