Sunday, July 18, 2010

Easy Peasy Veggie Stock

I hate wasting food. I mean, isn't it just like wasting money? I like the idea of using every little bit of something ... And the notion of making the most out of what you have really hit home to me when I travelled through Poland recently.

Now, don't get me wrong - Poland as I saw it is amazing. Krakow, Zakopane, Warsaw. Especially Warsaw. The food. The friendliness. The beer. The cobblestone streets. The affordability. The historic town centres. The spirit of the people. The fact that Warsaw was flattened in WWII and then rebuilt from rubble.

But the traditional food we ate in Poland is frugal-food.  Largely based around potatoes, sauerkraut, pickled veg, light rye bread, wild mushrooms and kefir-soured milk (and meat, too ... but as you know, not my thing). I love this kind of food because it's cheap and good for you and wholefood-based ... perfect for making the most out of what you have at hand. And that's the way we try to live.

So, in the spirit of frugal living, today I thought I'd share with you a recipe that is truly anti-waste. I hope will become an easy, yummy staple in your house, too!

Easy Peasy Veggie Stock

makes 2-3 L of stock

Veggie bits and pieces
Herbs bits and pieces
Leftover gulps of white wine
Dried bay leaves
Water, preferably filtered

*As always, try to use organic when you can! The spirit of this stock is in getting the most nutritive and economic value out of our food. Just make sure it's all washed first :)

AND, if you're worried about time - seriously, this is easier than driving to the shops to get some stock. Take a little time to do this, and you'll be glad you did.

1. Start saving tops and ends and stalks and peels from veggies and herbs that you're cooking with. Keep them in a jar in the fridge for up to a few days. Just before you're ready to make your stock, add in any veggies that look like they are nearing the end of their days ... zucchini that's starting to go woody, carrots with funny patches (cut those off), and so on ...

Of course you can use fresh, unadulterated veggies. Just wash them and chop them! But here are some great additions to your stock that you might have otherwise thrown out:

carrot peels or ends
celery tops 
onion or leek or spring onion tips or skins
mushroom stems
root vegetable parings
coriander, parsley
bean-soaking water
potato-cooking water
apple or lemon peels
the hard stalky bit* in lettuces, greens, cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower
*but sadly the leaves and flowery bits of lettuce/greens/cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower can be a bit too strong for your stock. Best to leave them out or use only in moderation. Also, don't overdo tomatoes.

you get the idea!

NOTE: I don't salt my stock but feel free to add a tsp or 2 if you want to.

2. Do you have a slow-cooker? If so, just put about 5-7 c of veggies + 3 bay leaves + 10 peppercorns + 1/4-1/3c of white wine + 2-3 L filtered water into your cooker (actual amounts will depend on how big it is ... ). Turn it on low and leave it for the day! 

3. If you don't have a slow-cooker, just put everything into a large pot. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 3-4 hrs. Longer is better, for more intense flavour.

4. Done? Ok, now you have to filter out any particles and store your stock. I usually use a French press coffee pot for the filtering, but you can use cheesecloth/muslin or coffee filters or anything handy. 

If you will be using the stock within a few days, you can filter it hot into sterilised bottles. I use old passata bottles (as pictured) and wash them in hot soapy water, then dry them in an oven set to 120C (250F). Store in the fridge and use within a few days or so.

For long-term storage, let the stock cool before you filter it into dishes to put into the freezer. If you measure it out then you'll have pre-measured portions to use whenever you need to! I usually do 2c, 1c and ice-cube tray portions ... you never know when stock will come in handy ... Frozen stock will last 3 months or so, but you'll use it before then!

How much did this cost me?

I almost always use organic veggies and herbs that I have on-hand - and usually the off-cuts I would've otherwise thrown away. So, free!

Have a lovely week!
Amanda xx


giftboxology said... [Reply to comment]

hi amanda,

i'm keen to find out your thoughts on purchasing organic products from overseas v local non-organic. i'm conscious of food miles and supporting the Australian economy. how can we be assured that the organic tinned tomatoes from italy are indeed organic? or that the organic apricot jam purchased from aldi (made in germany) is legit?

what do you think?

jen said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Jen,
That is such a good point. I agree, we should definitely be buying more Australian organic ... that way the shops and farmers might get the idea. Also, maybe we should be commenting to the organic food shops that they might highlight Aussie stuff on their shelves, to make it easier for us.

But as far as trusting that organic is organic ... from Europe you can definitely trust it. Europe has great organic standards and is becoming more and more organic (compared to the US or Australia). So I've got no qualms about buying European organic stuff if there isn't an Australian equivalent. I think in general international organic standards are good and legit.

Saying that, I tend not to buy organic products from China, because they don't have the best track record with food safety ...

Maybe this is another reason to take on the make-your-own, live seasonally philosophy? Can we afford the time to buy extra organic apricots in season and make jam for the rest of the year? Or make extra tomato sauce when tomatoes are abundant and freeze it? Personally, I think it's worth the time ... but do you think that's a rare philosophy these days?


giftboxology said... [Reply to comment]

very good point, maybe i have to start learning how to make jam and tomato sauce!

i think it is rare, although i think its gaining popularity. farmers markets seem to be much more prevalent these days, as well as masterchef and growing your own vege.

i starting delving into the links that you have to other blogs and before i knew it i had recipes written down for home-made tortillas and sourdough starters!! i'm off to roll out our tortillas just now!


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx

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