Stock Making Time

Stock from Vegetable Scraps

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve done a bit of cooking on a medium scale.  Still, that produced a good quantity of vegetable peelings.  I don’t have a composter of any sort in my apartment, but I didn’t want the peelings to entirely go to waste. So I decided to make stock for soup.

I’m going to describe what I did, and then comment on a couple of things I would do differently the next time around.  Off the top, I didn’t bother to put the vegetable peelings in any kind of freezer bag.  They were just in plastic grocery bags, or the bags you put them in at the store.  They only sat a few days, so I don’t think this had too much of a negative consequence.

When it came time to prepare the stock, I started off by taking all the frozen scraps and placing them in my slow cooker.  Then I filled it with water almost to the top, tossed in a bit of sea salt, and put it on high for an hour.  After the hour I turned it down to low and let it go over night.

Veggie scraps for stock making.
Veggie scraps for stock making.

When I got up in the morning I took a quick taste of the stock to see how it was coming along.  I noticed it wasn’t very strong, and that it lacked in salt.  This is a hard one for me to judge, as I don’t like to put a lot of salt in what I cook.  At this point the stock doesn’t look overly tasty.  I also tossed in some leftover savory I had, as rutabaga seemed to be the dominant flavour.

Stock simmering.
Stock simmering.

When I got home from work, I was finally ready to drain the stock.  On my way home, I had stopped off to get some cheesecloth.  I took the cheesecloth and put it in my large strainer, which I was able to sit on top of the bowl I was straining into.  This left me with both hands free to pout out the liquid and the solids that came with it.  As the contents of the cheesecloth cooled down, I repeatedly squeezed it to get out any excess water and flavour still there.

Cheesecloth used for straining the stock.
Cheesecloth used for straining the stock.

When that was complete I tasted again.  The rutabaga flavour was still strong, and a little bitter.  I had some potato water in the fridge, and I add that, which successfully ameliorated the rutabaga flavour.  I  then put it in a large stock pot adding a some fresh Tarragon and crushed garlic.  I left it on the stove for about another four hours and until it had lost about 1/3 of its volume.  (You could reduce it even more if you wanted an even stronger stock).  Then I took it and put most of it in various containers for storage until I use it.

A dark rich stock after straining.
A dark rich stock after straining.


Stock Tips:

This was the first time I had done such a large scale stock making.  This is what I would do different later.

1.)  Use less rutabaga.  It is very strong, and can overwhelm the other elements.

2.)  Worry less about over-salting and put more in at the beginning of the process.  I think this would pull more flavour out of the peelings.

pork-fat-for-rendering3.)  Work for a better colour blend.  The brown is a rather unpleasant brown, I would like it to be either lighter, or preferably darker and richer.

Stock Use:

While I put a lot of the stock away in storage, I did use some right away.  I had some left over pork trimmings as well, so I rendered those down.  I cut away the bits of meat and added them to 2 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, one carrot and some fusilli.  This gave me a nice meal sized soup to enjoy.

This turned out to be a fairly easy way to produce some soup stock for myself.  It also means less of my food goes to waste, food waste being a huge problem.  Best of all, I end up with tasty food that I made myself.


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