Homemade vegetable stock is that one pantry staple that I encourage everyone to have in their homes for so many reasons. Firstly, it's simple to make. Sure it takes hours on the stovetop of boiling, and then about 5-10 minutes of straining, but if you're around the house anyway, and you're using a pressure cooker, it's almost no bother whatsoever.
Secondly, it's healthier than that store-bought stuff. Of course, I've found myself in need of stock and nothing in the house, but once you start to make your own broth, you'll realize how salty the stuff you get in that waxed cardboard box is. I mean, even the "low-sodium" versions will raise your blood pressure. Thirdly, homemade vegetable stock is super versatile, which is why I like to always have it on hand. You can sip it straight up when you're sick; you can use it instead of water to boil and flavor grains or beans; and you can make a number of soups and stews with it. Best yet, it's easy to keep. If I know I'm going to use the broth in the next few days, I just store it in a pot or in Mason jars in the fridge, but if I don't know when I'm going to use it, I'll put 4 cups of the gold liquid in medium ziplock bags or in Mason jars. (I'll give you some storage tips later in the article).
What I particularly love about vegetable stock is that there's no one right way to make it. I'll give you a standard recipe here, but really if you have a bunch of veggies and herbs (or even mushrooms) lying around, say two onions, a carrot, and a boatload of celery that's about to go bad—you can use all or any of it. It means that veggies, if gone uneaten, can be put to good use before they need to be composted. 🌿
- 1/2 - 1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced in half (skin and all)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1-3 celery stalk, sliced
- 1-3 carrots, sliced
- 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay, sage)
- 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/8 teaspoon whole peppercorn
- 2 whole cloves
- 4 mushrooms (of any kind)
- 1 gallon of distilled water
- Add everything to a large pressure cooker (or heavy-bottom soup pot) and bring to pressure of high heat. When it reaches pressure, release some of the steam and lower so that the pot maintains pressure and continues to simmer. The more you let this simmer, the more nutritious and flavorful the broth will be. I typically let it simmer for around 2-3 hours, depending on what I have time for.
- After the time is done, turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker drop. Release the top and let cool with top off for about 15 minutes. Strain the soup with a fine mesh strainer into another soup pot. Funnel or ladle the golden mixture, if you'd like, into Mason jars or ziplock bags to be stored or frozen.
Composting the leftovers
Typically after you strain the broth, you'll have a steamy, mushy pile of vegetables and herbs. I typically double bag a paper bag and scoop the veggies in there and freeze in my freezer until I can take it to the farmers market for composting.
Freezing and unthawing broth
Freezing your soup stock will be good for at least half a year, if not more, though it's never been in my freezer for that long. If you're storing in Mason jars (or any jar for that matter) in the freezer, keep in mind that liquids will expand as they turn to ice, so you want to be mindful not to crack the containers. Fill to about 3/4 of the way full without the top on. Once it freezes, you can add the top on the container.
To unthaw, I generally sit my ziplock bag or jar in some hot water in a bowl, just enough for the ice rock to slide out of its home and into a pot that I'm cooking in.
Also note that I didn't add salt to my stock. I typically never add salt until I know what dish I'm making. This lets you control the amount of salt you want to use, if any at all!