Monday, October 13, 2014

Rich, Flavorful Vegetable Stock Made Easy

I like soups. All kinds of soups. I also cook everything from scratch- every sauce, drizzle, and base is made 100% from the ground up. It keeps things preservative-free, allergen-free, less expensive, and much more of the nutrients intact than a store-bought counter-part. Last fall I wrote about making chicken stock in How Much is a Chicken REALLY Worth? and recently the health benefits of said stock(and a soup made with it) in Feel Me Better Soup- For Anything that Ails You.
   The sad part: My youngest is allergic to chicken(and eggs. and potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, apples, and.... the list is long), so I can use none of that rich, nutritive, multi-purpose liquid gold in dishes he'll be eating or his food might be cross-contaminated with. Beef bones are not so readily available to me, so for months I was at a loss as to how to compensate for this lack in our diet. Naturally, I went to Pinterest. LOTS of ideas, recipes, etc, not much feedback. So just as I do with most recipes, I read countless versions, considered the similarities and differences, and formulated my own plan. Months of trial and error later, I am FINALLY pleased with the repeated outcome- so of course I'm sharing!

Ingredients:

  • Aromatic scraps(or one onion, peel and all)
  • 1 large leek
    Garlic, onion, carrot, and leek peels and ends from several
    days prior, kept refrigerated
  • A fistful of celery, leaves a plus
  • A fistful of fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms(Absolute KEY to a rich, earthy flavor without tasting like mushrooms)
  • 1-2 carrots
  • A couple sprigs of fresh herbs(we prefer oregano and thyme)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons flavorless Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin
Directions:
   In a large pot, put all vegetables and herbs, salt and pepper(I start with a teaspoon of each), and 12 cups of water. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. 

Keep covered and turn heat down to low. Keep covered at a low simmer for 5 hours. Turn off heat, remove lid, and allow to cool to luke-warm, just above room temperature. 

Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the stock from the vegetables. Now here's the tricky part: Using your hands(or some other way you know how) and squeeeeeeeeeze the daylights out of the vegetable mush leftover. A LOT of the liquid and flavor are in these cooked-to-death veggies, so this is a super important step. Your huge pot of fresh veg will end up with just a small strainer or squeezed-out mush.

Rinse the pot, pour the strained stock back into the pot, and sprinkle with the unflavored Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin. Give it a quick whisk to break up most of the clumps(small ones will dissolve on their own), and let it sit without turning the heat on for ten minutes. This allows the gelatin to bloom and is VITAL to texture.

Turn the heat on high for ten minutes, leaving the cover off the pot. The pot should just come to a rolling boil from room temperature by this time. This cooks the gelatin, sterilizes the hand-squeezed stock, and slightly concentrates flavor. Now you can can it, refrigerate it for later use, immediately use it exactly as you would any other stock, or let it cool slightly before bagging it for the freezer. Total yield is about 8-9 cups of finished stock.

Why the gelatin?
Number one reason: the health benefits. Read about a few of them HERE and HERE. Number two reason: texture. Natural bone broth/stock has this gelatin already in it, therefore has the gelatinous texture when cooled, but heats to a smooth, silky stock consistency. This addition gives it to vegetable stock.

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