09 August 2010

My first attempt at vegetable stock

I bought a pressure canner recently - a 16 qt Presto, for which I also purchased a weighted regulator. I was all kinds of excited to use it to can vegetable stock but things didn't turn out so easily -- at first.

I started with the Ball Blue Book's recipe for vegetable stock and dutifully diced my onions, carrots, etc. and added spices. After throwing everything in a pot, I gracefully managed to knock the entire pot to the ground. Luckily, only a few veggies spilled out, but the finish on the pot cracked, prompting flecks of it to float alongside my lovely veggies. I completely freaked out because I have no idea what flecks of paint might do once canned with food. Could they breed some sort of super strain of botulism that will kill me instantaneously? Do I even want to find out?

So, I rinsed each diced veggie individually, but that meant that my tomatoes lost a lot of their juice, and I started worrying about whether that meant that I would have to change the processing time. Since I'd rather not take a chance with low-acid foods, I decided to scrap the canning idea entirely.

I searched around and found a NYT recipe that suggested pressure cooking stock. At least now I could put my pressure canner to use as a pressure cooker. Before I got started, though, I removed all the turnips from my recipe because I quickly scanned Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and watched this helpful video, both of which note that cruciferous vegetables are a no-no in stock. I'm not sure why the Ball Blue Book, whose recipe I initially checked, would advise adding turnips. Maybe they don't overwhelm stock that is to be canned?

What I ultimately discovered is that making veggie stock is super easy! I will try canning it next time, but for this particular attempt, I froze my stock in freezer-friendly, 12-oz canning jars (at least they got some use after all). I've also begun to save veggie scraps in the freezer for the next time.

My first basic veggie stock
(adapted from Ball Blue Book)

1lb carrots (1" dice)
4 stalks of celery (1" dice)
2 onions (quartered)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and whole)
3 tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
2 bell peppers (1" dice)
pinch of peppercorns
few sprigs of thyme
3 Turkish bay leaves
  • Combine all ingredients in pressure canner/cooker and cover with water (do not overfill, as per your canner's instructions).
  • Pressure cook for 20 minutes under 15 lbs of pressure.
  • Strain stock and add soy sauce to taste.
  • Freeze or use with 3 days.
  • Pat yourself on the back.
It's that easy! Next time, I plan to play around with the combination of vegetables to see if I can get a fuller-bodied stock. This is my first one, and I thought it came out pretty decent if not potently flavorful. But then again, I want to use my stock as a base for cooking, so I don't want it to be too overpowering.

(This post is also part of Simple Lives Thursday)


  1. Congratulations! Sauteeing the vegetables will get you a bit more flavor (and don't freak out about the oil, even if you're pressure canning), as will tossing in some herbs. Deborah Madison is right that most of the cruciferous vegetables make disgusting stock (trust me on this), but for some reason the root vegetables (turnips, rutabagas, etc.) add a nice flavor.

    So, will you be making soup?

  2. Thanks for the great advice (as always!)
    I will indeed be making soup, but I'll also use it to add more flavor to seitan, which I like to throw over mashed potatoes.

  3. This is a great article. I never thought to save my veggie scraps in the freezer! What a great tip :D Thanks so much for linking to Simple Lives Thursday.