Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Better vegetable stock

with 4 comments

Edward Schneider tells us how. The Eldest will like this tip—she loves her pressure cookers.

Tasteless vegetable stock: you’ve probably bought it; you’ve probably made it; and you’ve surely wondered why you’ve bothered. It has always puzzled me that a pot of vegetables and herbs have so much flavor when you eat them or use them in a stew, but when simmered in water yield such an insipid broth — even if you brown them first. But it never puzzled me enough to investigate the problem: most of the time I prefer to use chicken or veal stock.

There are, however, those dishes or occasions that call out for vegetable stock — a light risotto, a vegetarian guest — and salted water is a poor substitute.

A couple of years ago Jackie and I, having overcome our parent-instilled fear of improvised explosive devices, bought ourselves a pressure cooker, which we use mainly for dried beans. I noticed that the broth from pressure-cooked beans was considerably more flavorful than what I was used to, and I began to add additional water to the pot so that there would be extra broth.

Then the penny dropped: use the pressure cooker to make vegetable stock, and it would get more of the goodness out of those onions, carrots, leeks and whatever else went into the pot.

It really works. Typically, I lightly brown the vegetables — making sure there are a few onions and numerous carrots and a little celery; leeks are desirable and the tiniest mite of garlic not unwelcome — then add plenty of water and some herbs. I always use parsley, and lots of it, but I’m more judicious with thyme and bay because their intrusive flavors seem to be intensified under pressure. Same goes for pepper — just a half teaspoon of whole black peppercorns is ample. Use whatever vegetables you want: tomato peelings, a bit of bell pepper, the odd celery root or parsnip, scraps of lemongrass. But bear in mind that distinctive flavors will circumscribe the stock’s versatility.

And put in some salt, just a little.

Clamp on the lid and bring the cooker up to full pressure. Turn down the heat and let it cook dangerously away for twenty or twenty-five minutes (read the instructions). Then, don’t release the pressure unless you need the stock right away: let it cool on its own. Strain, chill and store or freeze.

It really will taste of the vegetables rather than the shopping bag you brought them home in.

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2008 at 2:38 pm

4 Responses

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  1. For a good store bought one, try I have found it nice a flavorful.



    30 September 2008 at 4:21 pm

  2. I really, really don’t get the fear that people have about pressure cookers.. I use them often, and they are great! Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe for risotto, for example, that takes less time to make than a box of Rice-r-oni!


    The Eldest

    30 September 2008 at 7:11 pm

  3. I’m with you. There is no fear involved with the new pressure cookers. They are quiet, fast, efficient and DO NOT blow up.
    Stock, risotto, soup, stew, chili and I could go on and on but I won’t. You can check out my blog at or my website at http:.// I am a true pressure cooker evangelist. I think that they may help all of us go green — more beans, more vegetables, faster than ever.



    1 October 2008 at 6:46 am

  4. I love my pressure cooker. And it does make good stock. I save all my (non-nasty) veggie scraps in the freezer till i have a good pile. Throw it in the cooker, ( i might add an extra onion, or some celery) and cook away for about 15-20 minutes.

    I bought my cooker for beans but use it for a lot of stuff now just to save time and energy.


    Sorghum Crow

    1 October 2008 at 7:19 am

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