I'm a huge fan of making your own stock. Vegetable, chicken, or otherwise, it's a great way to save money and inject meals with extra nutrition and flavor. Up until a couple weeks ago, I always made my stock in a large pot on the stove top. I even wrote a post about it. However, I have recently been converted to a new method: making stock in the slow cooker. It's easier, and you don't have to worry about baby sitting a pot or things boiling over.
As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, I collect veggies scraps as I cook meals and add them to a bag in the freezer until it's stock making time. Things like the ends of onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and asparagus all stay snuggled up in my freezer, along with fresh herbs that were about to spoil, waiting for me to use them. Just stay away from stinky veggies like broccoli or cabbage. Of course you can make your stock with fresh ingredients as well, but the frozen scrap collector version makes me feel much more savvy. I mean, you're basically getting something for nothing. What would have been compost or trash becomes food! Every time I make stock I get super excited about this fact and always tell Jasen about how cool it is. He plays along. :)
To make your stock, simply add your chicken carcass (if using) and your veggies until the slow cooker is full, then toss in a couple bay leaves and salt to taste. I usually do 1 teaspoon of salt, but, remember, you can always add salt when you cook with the stock later, so better to add too little rather than too much here. Pour in enough water to cover everything, put on the lid, and then cook on low for 8-24 hours. I like to do this right after our chicken dinner and let it go over night. It's always nice to wake up to a house that smells like soup.
Filter your stock using a fine mesh strainer or unbleached coffee filter. You can then refrigerate your stock if you'll be using it soon, or freeze it for later. I've been freezing mine in jars for easy and plastic free storage.
Note: These jars were refrigerated. When freezing, be sure to leave plenty of room for expansion.
You can use your stock to make soup (obviously) or in any recipe that calls for it. It can also be used instead of water when cooking rice or other grains to add extra flavor.
Do you have any money-saving cooking tips? Leave them in the comments below!