Slow cooker veggie stock
If you've ever been afraid to make your own veggie stock, then don't. This method couldn't be simpler, and best of all, because it is made out of kitchen scraps, it's free! With the slow cooker doing all the work, you can be saving money while you are asleep or during the day when you are at work.
Making your own veggie stock is the ultimate recycling - and bonus points if you compost the used veggies after!
I keep a 2 litre tupperware box in the fridge dedicated to scraps. Every evening when I cook dinner I grab this out of the fridge and put it next to my chopping board along with my compost bin and chook bucket. Any useable scraps get thrown into the box - anything not useable goes in the compost bin or the chook bucket. Lid on and back into the fridge, the stock scraps will last a surprisingly long time. Within two weeks, I usually have the box packed full and ready to make a batch of stock - especially when I clear out the bottom of the veggie drawer on a Sunday.
Onions (skins and all), carrot peels and ends, spring onions, the ends and green leaves of leeks all work excellently, as do mushroom stalks, corn cobs, potato peelings, green beans, and pumpkin skins. But you can really use almost anything. Wilted, limp, or generally dried out veggies and herbs are awesome too. Just stay away from anything which is starting to rot or go moldy.
A couple of pointers:
- Onion skins are incredibly flavoursome, but will create a brown tinge to your stock. In most soups and stews this doesn't matter. But if you are planning on using the stock for a light-coloured dish such as risotto, skip these.
- Likewise, beetroot will turn your stock bright pink. Unless this is what you are going for, maybe throw these in the compost bin instead.
- Try not to throw in too many brassicas, such as cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. These are all quite bitter. You can get away with a small amount, but too many, and your stock will taste a bit 'cabbage'. Trial and error is your friend here.
- Generally it pays to skip anything too heavily flavoured, such as the ends of fresh ginger, chilli, or spent lemons and limes - these flavours can quickly dominate the stock.
- For an asian inspired stock (perfect for a noodle broth), throw in some whole asian spices such as coriander seeds, star anise, or cinnamon.
- If in doubt, just stick to the basics - onion, carrot, celery (and their familiar cousins).
Once you see how easy making your own stock is, you'll feel completely ripped off paying $4 for a litre of store-bought stock.