Now and then, we accumulate vegetables in our refrigerators that have seen better days. Although our instinct may be to throw them out (or better—compost!), what we should do is make homemade vegetable stock. You can even keep a sealable plastic bag in your freezer where you store vegetable scraps for eventually making stock. It is such a low-maintenance and hands-off process that we really have no excuse not to; it saves us money at the grocery store, eliminates food waste, and is a delicious addition to so many dishes.
For a flavorful stock, you’ll want to start with a base of hearty root vegetables, like carrot, celery root, and onions. From there, feel free to throw in whatever you have on hand; leek always imparts great taste, as does fennel, parsnip, mushroom, and tomato. To get even more flavor out of the vegetables, try roasting them first. Herbs and spices will lend additional depth of flavor to the stock, as well. Taste the stock as you go and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Be sure to start with cold water, as you want to slowly extract the flavor out of the vegetables as they heat up. You’ll also want to use a large, wide pot, so that there is as much surface area as possible for the vegetables to spread across while still being well-covered by water. When the stock is finished, strain and store it in sealable jars or containers and let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to use.