Vegetable stock is a basic ingredient in healthy cooking. Some people live in places where it’s readily available in packages similar to milk cartons. But even if you can buy vegetable stock, there are some excellent reasons you might want to make it yourself.
First, it’s incredibly simple to make.
Second, vegetable stock can be made from scraps of vegetables you wouldn’t otherwise know what to do with. Let’s say you made soup that required a few stalks of celery. What will you do with the rest? Or you have the outside layers of a red cabbage or head of lettuce. Or you made kale chips and have leftover stems. Or you peeled potatoes and don’t want to waste the peels. Or cut carrots and don’t know what to do with the ends.
All these vegetable scraps can be used in a homemade stock. You can save these scraps in a bag in the freezer until you’re ready to make a batch.
Vegetable stock will keep up to 7 days in the fridge but can also be frozen. Some people make vegetable stock cubes in an ice cube tray for occasions when a recipe calls for just a bit of vegetable stock or water.
Vegetable stock doesn’t really require a formal recipe. Throw in whatever vegetables and scraps you have handy. Add herbs you like, especially parsley, bay leaves and thyme. Although it isn’t recommended to use vegetables that are on their way to being rotten, you can use the cheapest ones you can find in the outdoor market, grocery store or farmer’s market.
Some people recommend simmering vegetable stock (vegetables, scraps, seasonings and water) for a few hours to deepen the flavor. Others for as little as 30 minutes. That’s part of the beauty of this process. It’s really very forgiving. Just remember to strain out the mushy solids at the end.
There are some things to avoid. Don’t add any bitter or strongly-flavored vegetables, like beets, Brussel sprouts or dandelion greens because they will overtake the eventual end product. Beets could change the color to pink. Potato peelings are fine, but a whole potato will make the stock cloudy rather than clear.
Every batch of vegetable stock will vary based on the ingredients and cooking time, but if you’ve used relatively mild ingredients like carrots, celery and onions as a base, all can be used with equal success in soups, stews and rice dishes like risotto. And, since it’s made from vegetables, it’s naturally fat-free and much healthier than chicken or beef stock.
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Author: Rebeca Espinoza
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.