Stocking Up

canned stock (3)

Do you make your own stock? If you don’t, and you own a slow cooker, you need to give it a try. It’s crazy-cheap and you know exactly what ingredients are in it. You can even control the amount of salt–since so many store-bought stocks are way to salty.

It’s so cheap because I make it out of stuff that I would otherwise be throwing away. What is cheaper than free? I mean the vegetables and the bones aren’t free, obviously, but I’ve already used them once, so they kinda are.

I written about how much I love bone broth on here before, and even done a post about how to make and can turkey (or chicken or any kind of bone broth) stock. Vegetable stock is just as easy.

I save all my vegetable scraps in a gallon-size zip lock bag in the freezer. Save the stuff like carrot peelings, stems of parsley, the root end of onions, skins from tomatoes when I can them, whatever vegetable scraps leftover from your cooking that you would otherwise compost or throw away. What is in my stock changes with the seasons. In the summer and fall there are lots of tomato skins and stems from peppers. In the spring, I toss in the woody ends of asparagus, and in the winter, it’s lots of cruciferous vegetables like kale stems and the cores of cabbage. It makes each batch unique.

New Years day (5)

I recently started also tossing a few egg shells in my vegetable stock. I read that they are a great source of glucosamine, which helps your joints to not be so achey. I can’t tell any difference in taste of my vegetable stock, but it does mean it isn’t vegan. And who knows if you even get enough of the mineral to matter just from cooking a couple egg shells with that much water. I figure it can’t hurt, though. Definitely make sure to rinse your eggshells if you’re going to do this.

When I get a full bag, I toss everything into a big stock pot with a splash of white wine and some salt and pepper. Sometimes, I also put some minced garlic in, sometimes a bay leaf. Fill up the stock pot with water. My stock pot holds eight quarts, and a gallon bag of scraps is perfect for that amount of water.

I simmer my vegetable stock on the stove for 45 minutes or so. It doesn’t need to cook as long as bone broth, because you’re not extracting out all those trace minerals from the bones, which takes several hours. As a matter of fact, once I put vegetable stock in the crock pot and cooked it for six hours or so, and it had an off taste like it was over cooked or burnt or something. I strain it through a strainer that isn’t too fine to allow some of the very fine bits through.

New Years day (4)

Now you can put all those scraps in the compost pile or in the trash.

Pressure can the quarts according to the instructions. Mine tells me to process at 11 pounds pressure for 25 minutes. If you don’t can it, you can just let it cool and put it into quart containers in the freezer. I have a mix of both.

I even started buying shrimp with the shell on so I can use the shells to make shrimp stock. This version is probably one of the best–and it’s a secret ingredient in clam chowder or jambalaya. It’s kind of a pain to peel shrimp, but once  you get the hang of cleaning and peeling them, it’s worth it for the extra use of those shells in the stock. Using shrimp stock really does make a huge difference in seafood-based dishes.

canned stock (2)

You’ll always have stock ready when you want to whip up a pot of soup without having to run to the grocery store to pick some up. If you eat a lot of soup like we do, the money you’ll save will really add up.

Give it a try! It’s easy!

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