Monday, September 26, 2011

Hot Tip: Roasted Vegetable Stock

You know that I'm a freezer-hoarder.  I have a lot of things in there. Including the ends and peels of every veg that passes through this house, for stock.  And I make a lot of vegetable stock.

MSNDG started saving her veg bits for stock, and then, once she had a gallon bag full, she realized she doesn't really use that much veg stock.  So what was all this freezer space taken up for?

First, it's better to keep your freezer full.  A full freezer is a more efficient freezer.

But also, you can use veg stock almost anywhere you'd use water.  And certainly anywhere you'd use chicken stock.  You can use it in place of wine in lots of dishes.   Veg stock makes your pasta, couscous, quinoa, millet, barley, whatever, a bit tastier.  Veg stock can thin a sauce without watering it down.  It's step one of soup. 

And vegetable stock is free.  Those are veg you were going to compost or toss anyhow.

So the interwebs were telling me that it's better to roast your veg first, and I was thinking, that's an extra step I'm just not gonna mess with, until I reached full capacity in the freezer.

I don't know what happened.  I have a good bit of sauce frozen, and two loaves of sandwich bread, and a loaf of banana bread, and some calzones (recipe to come), and maybe a lot of other things, as well as a gallon bag stuffed with veg ends, and all of a sudden I just didn't have room left in the freezer.  But I didn't have the kind of time it takes to make stock.

Time spent making stock isn't busy time, but you have to be home, because, you know, the stove is on. And it takes a while to cool before you can stash it back in the freezer.

So just to make room in my freezer, I roasted up the contents of my stock bag, figuring it would soften and shrink the veg ends, making it easier to store the bag of frozen veg until stock day.

So here are some up close and personal shots of my veg ends.  All of this, on a baking sheet at 400 until everything softened and browned around the edges.  30 minutes or so?

Then back into the bag (once cooled) in the freezer until stock day.   They took up half the space they used before, so I felt I had accomplished something. 

When stock day came, I opened up my bag of browned and nutty roasted veg and tossed it in an equal amount of water with some peppercorns and let it go, simmering, tasting every so often.  When it stops tasting like dirty water, start paying attention.  Mash the veg with your spoon a bit.  Give it maybe another hour.  

Strain, and if you're feeling it, run through cheesecloth too.  I freeze it in jars and in ice cubes. An ice cube is about an ounce, so they're easy for measuring and adding a bit here and there. 

So, should we roast all our stock veg?  I think so.  It has a lot more flavor than my typical stock, richer, nuttier, heartier, etc.  If it's convenient to do so, why not?

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