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Waste Not Want Not - Vegetable Stock Recipe

In my kitchen, scraps rarely make it into the trash. We have kind of a food chain for food and where it ends up if it isn't exactly human friendly anymore. The dog, chickens and the compost pile all get it's share! Before it gets that far though, I try to get savvy with our not-so-fresh produce. For instance, if veggies aren't moldy or mushy, my motto is "don't toss 'em, stock 'em!" It's a simple enough recipe plus it freezes really well if I don't plan to use it right away.

To get started, you need about 5 cups of vegetables. For flavor it's best to have a variety of vegetables but you really can't mess this up. I happened to have a handful of mushrooms which wasn't enough to use in another recipe, an onion that started growing sprouts, some semi soft parsnips and fresh celery. Now for the celery, I just purchased it for a soup I'm making tomorrow and I don't want to "waste" my celery on the stock (at least not the good parts), so I washed it then gutted out everything I wont use tomorrow. The butt end, insides and the tips all went into the mix.

(I even tossed in these little leafy pieces, why not!)

Once you have all your vegetables picked for your stock, wash them then just give them a rough chop, about 1-2 inch pieces. The onions really only have to be peeled and quartered, as they cook down the pieces will fall apart. I'll also include below how much of each vegetable you need if you wish buy the ingredients just for this recipe.

After you give everything a quick chop, throw it all into a large stock pot. I think mine is an 8 quart but the thing is so old it's hard to read the bottom. Any stock pot will work for this as once you add the vegetables you're just going to cover them with water and add a handful of fresh parsley, a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and (optional) two bay leaves. Salt is optional. I don’t add it until I turn my stock into a soup or stew just because I don’t want it overly salty but you’re welcome to start adding it now to taste.

Cover your pot, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer for approximately two hours. If you don't have two hours, cook on a medium low for one hour and uncovered so it doesn't boil over.

You may have to add water if you're doing the 1 hour method. As with any lengthy cooking time recipe, SET A TIMER. SET SIX OF THEM! If you're a busy mom like me, you're tired and easily distracted, don't let a vegetable stock burn your house down, please.

By now your vegetables should lack luster and your water should be murky. When the time is up, turn off the heat and take the cover off so it cools faster. Once it has cooled enough to not scald you if it splashes... strain it by placing a large bowl in the sink with a colander in it then pour your stock into strainer/bowl. 

From here you could be a super saver and feed the spent vegetables to your chickens but you literally just cooked out all the healthy stuff so I would throw them into a compost if you have one.

Once strained and cooled, store in either the fridge for up to 8 days or in the freezer up to 6 months. You can of course pressure can them as well but be sure to follow the FDA canning guide lines as this is a no sodium added recipe. 

Vegetable Stock Recipe
Prep Time: 5 Mins
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Ingredients:
1 onion
3 large Carrots 
2 Parsnips 
4 Celery Stalks
Two Fresh Sprigs of Thyme
One Bunch of Fresh Parsley
Optional: Peppercorn, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Salt
Instructions:
1. Wash the carrots, parsnips and celery in cold running water. Chop into 1 inch pieces. Peel the onion and quarter. 
2. Add all the chopped vegetables and herbs to a stock pot.
3. Add enough water to the pot to cover everything by about an inch or so. It's okay to add water as needed later on.
4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low for 2 hours or medium-low for 1 hour.
5. Turn off heat and let cool. Once cooled, strain off any vegetable chunk thru a colander and your run off stock into a large bowl. 

6. Once completely cooled, store in air tight containers in the fridge for 8 days on in the freezer up to 6 months.

I always freeze mine in 4 cup amounts for recipes and mark the bag so I know in the future. Of course for this recipe it's going in my refrigerator so I can use it to make chicken noodle soup tomorrow. Yum! 

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