Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Stocking Up

I've talked about why I make stock before but I think it's about time I post my method. It's not very glamorous but it's practical, thrifty and tasty. And I think we'd all like to use those three principals in our kitchen more often.

First of all the ingredients for stock. It's not in a good user friendly list. Basically I put anything in that I cut of a vegetable that wasn't mouldy or dirty. Those arn't very high standards are they? I managed to bond with a woman this weekend when I was looking at a waist saving stall. They had a plate of kitchen waste that you could compost. One was a broccoli stalk and I said 'pft you put that in your stock.'

As a general guide line this is what I put in.
  • Broccoli or cauliflower stalks
  • Stalks of chard or spinach beet
  • Bits of food that you cut wrong
  • Something that may go off tomorrow
I chop them all down into chunks and store them in an ice cream tub in my freezer until I'm ready to make stock (pictured).

I use one or two 'new' ingredients
  • An onion or the white of a leek
  • Herbs. Parsley and/or bay.
  • Mushrooms if I have them.
What do I make my stock in? Well currently I have a small stock pot. The only good thing about my last job is that I got employee discount on the stock pot. Before that I just used every sauce pan I could get my hands on. You can also use a slow cooker but if you are trying stock for the first time or you don't know how much you will use then start with your biggest sauce pan. Just to get a feel of things.

The first job is to heat around a tablespoon of oil (I do this in my stock pot as life is too short to wash 2 pans) and fry the onions until they are translucent. Then add the other veggies let the oil have at them.

Please don't skip this step. You can taste it in the stock when you do. The oil adds much needed fat. By frying off the vegetables you are allowing the oil to take in the flavours and the stock to absorb more of the taste.

After your veg have been in the oil for two minutes or so it's time to add the water. Fill the pan up. Bring it to boil add your herbs and then let it simmer for around half an hour. You want the veg to be completely overcooked, I take mine off when it smells like over boiled cabbage.

I don't add salt and pepper into the stock as I generally add it to the soup. When I'm making a noodle bowl I don't want to be adding soy to something already salty. That's just me though. Season to your taste.

Then you strain and decant. I generally put mine in the freezer until needed. I usually only cook for myself so it gets frozen in portions of 2 cups.

And that's how I make stock. And you can taste the difference.

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