If you cook, you make vegetable stocks all the time, without realizing that you are: most people empty a pot of boiled vegetables into a colander and let the water drain away down the sink. That, gentle reader, is vegetable stock full of flavour and nutrition rushing down the drain. And tomorrow, you are going to be rushing out to a store to buy vegetable broth cubes. Can we talk?
Do this instead: put the colander into a large bowl, and let the water from the vegetables strain it into that. Get on with your meal, and then during kitchen cleanup, pour that stock into plastic containers and freeze.
The next time you make stock, gravy, sauces, pot roasts, etc, use this veg stock instead of tap water. The flavour added to your cooking will knock your socks off. If you start a soup with this stock, it will be hard to go wrong. You can even use it in place of water with packaged soup mixes.
Vegetable water that is especially good is that from corn, potatoes, peas, carrots,etc. Stock from broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts — anything from the cabbage family can have too overwhelming a flavour for general use. Broth off a batch of dried beans that you have boiled up — black bean broth especially — is very tasty and just swimming with nutrients and vitamins.
And, if ever you reconstitute dried mushrooms, that water is the best.
Saving the stock that you have already generated will revolutionize the quality and flavour of what you cook.
After a few years, here’s Stage Two. Before peeling carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc, wash them well (as you are supposed to, anyway), put a large bowl into the sink, and then direct all the peelings into the bowl. Put all the peelings in a pot of water with a pinch of salt, and gently boil that for about 20 to 30 minutes. Strain that into a bowl, let cool, and freeze in plastic tubs. If people arrive for dinner too early and nose about in the kitchen, punish them by telling them that that’s dinner — “potage au garbage”. It does look weird, boiling peels, no doubt about it. The stock off of them is extraordinary, however, and you capture in that stock all the nutrients in the skin so you don’t have to have that nagging guilt about having peeled your vegetables.
At some point, it may occur to wonder about saving the juice from tins of corn, green beans, peas, etc. You may not wish to because all these tin goods have salt in them, and you would have less control of how much salt is in what you are making with your stock collections. Liquid from tins of cooked beans such as kidney, chickpea, etc, has particularly high sodium levels.