The lockdown continues…and vegetable stock is made

Even before the world went crazy and we all spent every waking hour locked in our homes (gardens or allotments) I was very interested in reducing waste, following a vegan lifestyle, living in a sustainable way, growing, make do and mend. This temporary pause on ‘normal’ life has given me more time to reflect and think about how I want life to be the other side of this. This period has taught me to decide what I would like to achieve in life and reject anything that is not in keeping with that. My final destination will be self sufficiency, a low waste, low impact, lifestyle. Kind of ‘The Good Life’ meets witch doctor. In taking mini steps towards this I have spent many happy hours planting, cooking with random ingredients and relaxing. As a natural introvert the alone time hasn’t bothered me too much, I have my family here and everyone else is only a phone call away. Long term I wouldn’t like to be this isolated from the people I care about but due to the wonders of technology it has been manageable temporarily.

We knew before this we needed change, climate change can no longer be denied and the current economic system is very questionable. I often feel that we are all on a busy treadmill running nowhere. We have grown increasingly out of touch with the planet to the point that we no longer understand or respect the fine balance of our home. And how throwing it out of balance has disastrous consequences. We are very detached from the ‘real’ world in many ways but this virus has shown how quickly we can adapt as a species. People are picking up their gardening tools, making do with what they have. Consumerism hasn’t died but for the past few weeks it hasn’t reigned supreme either. Gardening has!

I digress, the point of my post is in fact that I have finally got around to making my vegetable stock. And damn fine stock it is. I keep a large, sturdy plastic bag in the freezer (the resealable ones bread wraps come in or a ziplock type are ideal) and throw odds and ends of veg in there as I go. When the bag is full, and I have time on my hands, I make a simple stock using herbs from the garden (hardy ones like sage, rosemary, thyme and bay are always available but I add anything I have depending on the season) a splash of wine if I have left overs, a few peppercorns, some salt (many prefer not to season so as not to over salt the final dish that the stock is used for but I like a seasoned stock – your choice on that one) As with all of my recipes at the moment, as people don’t have access to everything, it is very flexible. You will need veg scraps, you will need water. What you flavour it with is up to you.

Ingredients

1 large ziplock bag of veg peelings and scraps – Mine included onion, leek, garlic skins, cabbage, carrot, pepper stalks, mushroom stalks (and probably other veg that I can’t recall as I freeze as I go and then make stock when I have a full bag)

Fresh herbs – Growing a variety of herbs year round is fantastic

Wine – I have used red and white with success but used about 200ml cheap white wine on this occasion

1 x tablespoon tomato puree

Peppercorns – I used 12 uncrushed

Salt – optional but I used 1 dessertspoon

Method

1. Put all veg in a large stockpot/saucepan with a lid

2. Add enough water to cover plus approximately 5-7cm more

3. Add wine, herbs, tomato puree, peppercorns and salt

4. Bring to the boil and reduce then reduce heat to low. Allow to bubble away for as long as possible. The longer it bubbles the deeper the flavour will get. A minimum of one hour but I usually let it bubble for 3-4 hours.

5. Remove all veg and flavourings, leaving just the stock water in the pan.

6. At this point you can either keep as fresh stock, freeze or put the stock back on a medium heat until it reduces by half. I find this intensifies the flavour of the stock and makes storage a little easier.

The cooked veg can be composted. In our area the council collect all cooked food so I usually only put raw veg on our compost heap in the garden. However, I do add this and haven’t experienced any problems with smells or rodents.

If anything is unclear drop a question below.

Stay safe,

Kate xx

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