People often ask me if they can use the tops or peels of vegetables. The answer is almost always YES!
When you are in a CSA once a week you are inundated with vegetables, making stock is a great way to use up all the parts of your CSA share and open the door to some healthy quick meals.
This is most of my CSA share this week and some leftovers from last week, the corn is from the Farm Stand and was lonely in the vegetable drawer alone. I like to do an inventory once a week to keep things fresh and it helps me plan meals better.
*gack! look at that fly on the leek!
I am going to trim the parts of the vegetables we won’t eat, like leek tops and chard stems, and green bean tips, and make some stock. There is no right or wrong here. Use what you have. I have read not to use cabbage or broccoli in vegetable stock. I disagree. I like the taste of broccoli and cabbage stock. Just make sure you balance it with some onions or leeks and maybe some herbs if you have them.
Here are the trimmings of this weeks vegetables in my stock pot this week. I like to eat beet greens but I had chard this week so I sacrificed my beet greens for the sake of the stock.
The red beet greens will make the stock dark. Keep that in mind if you want a lighter stock, for say a leek risotto you might want to leave the red beet greens out, or use golden beets.
Now I have a more manageable harvest of vegetables that will use up much less space in my refrigerator.
Most everything is wrapped up to be returned to the vegetable drawer for meals later this week.
Next, add enough water to your the pot to leave some of the vegetables above the waterline. I like to add bay leaf or two, oh. I forgot I had some celery leftover from last week so I added a few stocks of that last minute.
The vegetables have lots of water and will break down quickly, unlike stocks made with bones. Less water is better than more when making vegetable stock.
Put the burner on high and as soon as the water warms up start tasting the stock. You will cook this for about an hour. Vegetable stock can taste muddy of you cook it too long so taste, taste, taste.
My stock has been cooking while I have been typing this and the house is smelling wonderful. It’s been a little longer than an hour since it started to boil and I can tell by the smell we are getting close to being done. See how the the color is deepening, it’s a little darker than it looks in this picture. See how the vegetables are breaking down and turning darker. They are giving up all their flavor and nutrients to the liquid. Remember when you are tasting you will add salt later, salt will brighten up the flavor. At some point it will start to taste round and balanced, that is when it is done. You won’t taste just one vegetable, you will taste a balanced stock.
All that is left is to strain the spent vegetables from the liquid and pat yourself on the back for making something beautiful out of next to nothing.