Vegetable stocks are used as the essential of many dishes to improve their depth of flavour.
They are tend to be healthier, when no fat is used to cook the vegetables.
There are two basic types of vegetable stock; white and brown.
White vegetable stocks are typically colourless and milder and fresher in taste, adding a subtle flavour to dishes. These are made by simply adding the vegetables raw into a pot with water and simmering.
Brown vegetable stocks are richer and deeper in colour, adding a more robust flavour to dishes. This is achieved by roasting the vegetables until caramelised, before simmering them in water.
Which vegetables work best?
For a base, start with onion, garlic, celery, leek, carrot and peppers. The standard aromatics are bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, dill and parsley stalks. You can then add other vegetables, herbs or spices to flavour your stock however you want.
Use sunchokes or celeriac for an earthier taste, butternut squash peel or apple for sweeter notes or fennel, star anise, cardamom and some tarragon for a stock with a pleasant aniseed flavour.
For a light stock, use a white stock base and add pea pods, artichoke leaves, woody asparagus ends or bean pods.
Ginger, tangerine and lemon grass in white stock give you a nice aromatic flavour.
For an intense stock, use a brown stock base and add umami-rich ingredients such as dried mushrooms, tomato and carrot purée and seaweeds.
Which vegetables don’t work ?
Avoid adding of any member of the brassica family; broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage among others.
They will ruin your stock with a sulphurous and bitter flavour. Softer vegetables such as potatoes or pumpkin are no good as they break down too easily, creating a cloudy stock.
Preparing the vegetables
The fresher the vegetables you add for stock, the better the flavour will be. Collect peels, ends and trimmings to add to the pot for extra flavour while cooking and set aside to use in veg stock. It is also important to ensure they have been cleaned well.
All the vegetables should be chopped very finely. This is important because more of the vegetable will be exposed to water while simmering and also creates a larger surface area for caramelisation in the oven.
As a rule, always add an equal amount of water to the weight of the vegetables, or pour water into the pan until the vegetables are fully submerged but covered by no more than a few centimetres.
1. In a large pot, add the vegetables of your preference and sweat down until just starting to colour – around 10 minutes.
2. If using wine, add now and reduce by half. Then top up with water until the vegetables are just covered by a few centimetres. Bring to the boil.
3. Turn down to a simmer then add the spices such as bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorns or aromatics such as ginger or lemongrass.Continue cooking for at least 30 minutes, preferably 45 minutes to 1 hour. The flavor will deepen the longer it cooks.
4. Strain through or a strainer so you are left with a nice clear stock. Divide between storage vessels. Let cool completely before sealing. Use immediately or chill it.
Storage: The stock will keep for 3–5 days in the fridge or will freeze for up to 2 months