Ahhh simmering stock: to me the smells of autumn and winter, literal house warming, and a most timely recycling opportunity.
It amazes me that from papery onion and garlic skins, winter squash seed pulp, onion ends with root hairs intact, herbaceous thyme and parsley stems, fibrous kale stems, tough fennel cores, lemongrass clippings, carrot tops, mushroom stalks and celery butts, we can extract healthful and flavorful nutrients into water, transforming it from bland beverage to nourishing tonic that breathes new life into the meals that feed your family throughout the year.
It’s ridiculously simple: keep a gallon-sized plastic bag in the freezer to collect vegetable scraps, accumulate enough to make a handsome amount of stock, cover with water, season with salt, and simmer away unattended for a while. There is one other piece that you’re missing in your stock pot and it is likely another item that is being tossed into the waste bin after one-pot pasta dinners: parmesan rinds!
This often-discarded part of the cheese wheel still has something to offer. Once you reach the hardened outer rim of your cheese chunk, toss it into your pot of vegetable stock and find a punch of umami and depth of flavor that bones bring to stock but your vegetables never would. I like to buy whole chunks of Parmesan with the rind still intact just to use it in stocks. Any kind is good: aged 9 months or 12. I move rinds or hardened pieces from the fridge to the freezer to keep on hand for stock-making any time. Plop one rind into the salted water with your other veggies, bring to a boil, back down to a simmer, and let it go with the lid ajar for about an hour. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth.
Store your stock in canning jars in the fridge for up to five days or stow in the freezer for up to six months. Careful though—I never use canning jars for freezing liquids, as they always always, always end up cracking on me. Instead, I use thick freezer-friendly plastic containers and I have never had a problem. And I make a lot of stock all year-round.
Kala Riddle is a nutritionist turned sourdough baker, who enjoys celebrating the seasons through cooking, growing, and sharing our most basic and personal connection: food. Keep up with her at www.untamedbakeshop.com