Win a deck of Permaculture Playing Cards this week in the Permaculture forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Dan Boone
  • Carla Burke
  • Kate Downham

Adding vegetable stock making in my pressure cooker (yummy!) to my existing garden/food workflow

 
gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
615
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am currently eating a plant-based diet for health reasons.  For me, that means cooking with a lot of legumes, and I make a lot of soups.  When I'm in a hurry, I'll throw some canned cooked beans in a bowl with some spices and flavorings (dash of this, splash of that, diced onions and garlic or heavy pinch of powdered ones) and some frozen corn and peas and microwave it.  Viola, vegetable bean soup!  It's not really cooking but it's healthy and satisfying.  But: that fast soup or just about anything else I cook works a lot better when I have a good strong flavorful vegetable stock handy.  The commercial ones are too expensive or too insipid or have too much added vegetable oil (which I avoid) -- but mostly they offend my sense of frugality whether or not they are fine from a culinary and diet perspective.  Especially when:

My morning workflow during gardening months involves getting out in the garden first thing when it's (relatively) cool.  I do my watering, I do my weeding while the hose is deep-watering stuff, I do the basic garden putter of picking off dead leaves and offensive critters, and I usually do a fast harvest of things that need to be picked, which for me, this morning, was tomatoes, cukes, a few kale leaves, a few fat onion greens, some okra, a few small green peppers, a few asparagus beans, and some volunteer purslane.  

My garden is small and my ability to make it produce strongly during the summer dormancy of scorching July/August temps here is weak.  So often when I come in, of a morning, I literally have like two beans and four okra pods and a green pepper and my little bowl of tomatoes and cukes.  But at least a couple of times a week, I know I've got enough stuff getting old in my fridge that I need to have steamed veggies for lunch.  So on that day, I'll also pick a handful of kale and a handful of onion greens and a handful of whatever herbs I got and whatever volunteer "weed" greens are out there (right now that's purslane and going-to-seed sorrel and lambsquarter).  The thing about this is that I don't really *like* some of these vegetables, especially the okra and the kale.  I am still teaching myself to like them, and my current strategy is to steam them up in a wild melange, so that there's not too much of anything I don't like and it's mixed with lots of other stuff I do like.

So I get out my countertop electric steamer (I prefer electric appliances over stove top cooking in the summer when my AC units are struggling) and I chop up whatever I got from my garden.  Today it was kale and the pole beans and okra and an old zucchini and thin-fleshed little heat-stressed green bell peppers and purslane and sorrel and lambsquarters and onion greens.  I also throw in a few store veggies, often including potatoes, white or sweet.  Today it was a big white onion and some carrots and the last of a trio of fat juicy red sweet peppers that were 3 for a buck at Sprouts.  I jam that electric steamer basket full, to be served later with Asian condiments like hot sweet chili sauce and soy sauce.  And then it had been my practice to compost or bin all the ends, cut-offs, and unappealing bits left over from prepping.

But, remember this is a post about making vegetable stock!  And I had done it a few times, the old-fashioned way, with a long simmer of relatively few vegetables in a big kettle on the stovetop.  The results weren't very interesting and did not (IMO) justify the expense in propane, because the stock didn't really brighten up my life.

But recently I had an epiphany that my beloved electric pressure cooker could be used to make stock.  It is essentially pressure-cooking inside a big thermos bottle, so it doesn't ad much heat or steam to my kitchen.  So here's what I've started doing.  

On a day when I know it's steamed vegetables for lunch, I pick a few extra greens and more of the weedy green stuff and especially the herbs that don't go nicely into the steamer basket.  So I have a bit more stuff in the bowl I use to collect my daily harvest.  Then I set the electric pressure cooker vessel right next to the steamer basket on the counter by my cutting board where I do all my vegetable prep.  Now I have three different places for the stuff that comes off my knife to go: stockpot, steamer basket, or bin.  But a ton less gets binned!  As I prep onions, carrots, peppers, zucchini, okra, beans, and kale, all the ends and sides and parings and edible-but-tough stems, sun-scorched or discolored bits, and miscellaneous refuse that's perfectly food-flavored but unattractive or unappealing because of texture?  That all goes in the stock pot while the best bits go into the steamer basket.  Only the truly woody stems, undesirable-flavored seeds, or actual rotten/moldy bits go into the bin.

Then when my steamer basket is steaming, I add a few things to the stock pot.  This includes the herbs from my garden that I don't use with the steamer (today that was a bit of sage, thyme, a little sprig of lemongrass, and some pinched-off basil flowers, and dried-out greyish bits of the sorrel), a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning, a few fennel seeds, a bit of garlic powder, a pinch of smoked paprika, and a cheating little bit of turmeric powder so the resulting stock is less gray/brown and more golden.  I also check the fridge for other neglected store veggies, which today yielded me some celery tops for the stock.  I top up the pressure vessel to its max fill line with water and set the cooker to max pressure/max time (which on mine is 99 minutes).  Set it and forget it.  

I let the pressure cooker cook and return to near room temperature (which takes some hours given how well it's insulated).  Then I just run the stock through a wire strainer (a colander would work) and return all the fleshy bits filtered out to the compost or trash depending on how lazy I am feeling.  (I have...complexities...about composting kitchen waste, and it doesn't always happen.)  Anyway, the stock goes in wine bottles in my fridge, and (as I can remember) I also freeze some in ice cube trays to store in the freezer.  I don't trust the fresh/bottled for more than a week or two, but now I can splash it liberally into everything I cook instead of the cooking water I was too-frequently using before.  The stock ice cubes will keep effectively forever I imagine, but I haven't been doing this long enough to test that and in any case I don't expect my supply to last more than a month or two past the time when my garden is frozen down to near-nothing.    

Net result is that by combining it with an existing kitchen workflow I get really tasty vegetable stock in unlimited quantities (well, compared to my limited needs when cooking vegetable foods for one person) at close to zero cost in money and with less than ten minutes of additional kitchen time.  I suppose this is old hat to experienced kitchen people, but I've had to learn 80% of my cooking "skills" (primitive as they are) since I started trying to make whole vegetable foods interesting enough to eat three squares a day of.  And for me, the keys to cracking a good vegetable stock turned out to be:

1) incorporating it in my existing garden/kitchen/eating workflow;
2) using the "set it and forget it" electric pressure cooker
3) freezing the stock into cubes before it sours in the fridge
4) using a much larger diversity of vegetables and flavorful herbs than most stock "recipes" suggest

It wasn't until all of these came together for me that it all began to seem worth the bother.

Hope that some part of this will prove helpful to somebody!


 
master pollinator
Posts: 11483
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
777
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Super!  I don't have a pressure cooker but I wonder if a slow cooker would work?
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
615
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tyler Ludens wrote:I don't have a pressure cooker but I wonder if a slow cooker would work?



I believe it would!  I didn't think of that before I got the electric pressure cooker or I would have tried it.  Downsides might be (a) not as energy efficient and (b) puts a bit more heat into your kitchen for longer and (c) takes a lot longer overall, albeit there's no watching required. But still, I think it would work just fine.  I'm not sure how it would work out on flavor.  Traditional stovetop simmered stock (probably I was making it wrong) always came out muddy and dull-flavored for me, while the pressure cooker seems to retain more flavors.  I would expect the slow cooker to be somewhat intermediate?  Just guessing here.
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
315
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just let my peelings, cuttings, etc build up in plastic bags in the freezer until I have enough to do a stock pot full.  (If I have left-overs, they go into the bags also.)  Free nutrition, and flavor from what most people just send to the landfill (after it has stunk up their trash bin since last week's pick up).

I'll have to look into those stand-alone pressure cookers.  I can just set one up on my back porch, and keep all of those BTUs out of the house during warm weather.
 
steward
Posts: 3158
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
621
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pressure cookers are the best for broth!  Also pretty awesome for cooking beans, rice and potatoes.  My pressure cooker makes brown rice in the time it takes to cook white rice in a regular pot.

If you have a modern pressure cooker (not with the jiggly weight thing, that leaks a fair amount of steam) you are using far less energy and heating up your house less than open cooking.
 
Posts: 130
Location: Wyoming Zone 4
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan, how long do you pressure cook your stock?  You said your cooker will go to 99 minutes, but I missed where you set the timer for stock.

Thanks!

Edited to add:  Never mind.  I reread your post again, and there it was.  The full 99.  Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1028
Location: Longbranch, WA
141
goat tiny house rabbit wofati chicken solar
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am not making vegetable stock but steam juicing berries and apples but the operation would be the same. I am taking advantage of the summer heat in my west facing outdoor kitchen. Around 6 PM the sun coming under the porch roof reaches the top of my outdoor kitchen counter and the temperature reaches 90 to 100F.  By that time I have all my prep done and it takes very little input from the electric hotplate to get the temperature above boiling. By the time the steaming is done the sun is behind the distant trees and the temperature drops to a comfortable level to complete the storage phase while I still have daylight.

So for a summer kitchen I recommend the west wall on the outside of your house. Do the preparation in the morning shade and the cooking in the afternoon sun for for maximum use of  the cycle of coolth and heat.
 
Posts: 101
Location: Czech Republic; East Bohemia; Latitude 50˚ 12' 34"
10
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dan Boone wrote:  I also freeze some in ice cube trays to store in the freezer.  I don't trust the fresh/bottled for more than a week or two, but now I can splash it liberally into everything I cook instead of the cooking water I was too-frequently using before.  The stock ice cubes will keep effectively forever I imagine, but I haven't been doing this long enough to test that and in any case I don't expect my supply to last more than a month or two past the time when my garden is frozen down to near-nothing.    



I have found that my ice cubes shrink over time because of the tendency of things to sublimate in a freezer, so I put my ice cubes in a sealed box in the freezer to keep the ice cubes longer-- like I'm going out of town or whatever, they should be there when I want them. They seem to last longer when they are sealed up and it makes room in my ice trays to make more. Just thought it might be something you could try, or maybe the sublimation will make yours more concentrated?

I'll have to try this method for stock, might be a tad more efficient than my normal simmer all night long.

Jason
 
Posts: 3
Location: Spain
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dan Boone wrote:   I also check the fridge for other neglected store veggies, which today yielded me some celery tops for the stock.  I top up the pressure vessel to its max fill line with water and set the cooker to max pressure/max time (which on mine is 99 minutes).  Set it and forget it.  


We use a pressure cooker all the time (we own 6, for a variety of reasons). The whole point of pressure cooking is it gets the job done FAST. For example, vegetable stock should be done in 5 minutes at a reasonable pressure; give it 10 if you want overkill. 99 minutes would be excessive using a normal pot; that long with a pressure cooker is just a waste of time and energy
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
615
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Rynne wrote:The whole point of pressure cooking is it gets the job done FAST. For example, vegetable stock should be done in 5 minutes at a reasonable pressure; give it 10 if you want overkill. 99 minutes would be excessive using a normal pot; that long with a pressure cooker is just a waste of time and energy



I'm not sure we're on the same wavelength here.

The whole point of pressure cooking is to do cooking jobs fast.  But is stock-making even truly a cooking process, or is it a flavor-extraction process?  In other words, I may be using my electric pressure cooker to do a different thing than it's designed to do, so the default wisdom may not apply.

The way I learned to make meat-based stocks from my mother involved simmering the bones on a wood stove (what we had) overnight -- a long slow simmer that leached all the flavor out of the stock material and reduced the total liquid volume, further concentrating the flavors.

I am only reasoning by analogy when it comes to vegetable stock-making, but what I've tried in the past was a similar long slow simmer.  On a gas stove (what I have now) it's fuel-expensive and I haven't been that impressed with the results; the flavor comes out sort of dull and muddy.  

Online recipes for vegetable stock all seem to suggest about 90 minutes of simmering "or until the volume is reduced by half".    I'm not getting any reduction in my electric pressure cooker, since the steam is captured, but I think that might be why my resulting flavors are brighter and fresher, because volatile flavors are not escaping with the steam.  

I can indeed "cook" the vegetable components of my stock in the first ten or so minutes in my pressure cooker.  But I'm not sure I'd get much flavor out of the vegetables in that time.  I should try the experiment; it won't hurt much (just the cost of one heat cycle) to close it back up and re-cook if the broth is weak.  

Thanks for the input!
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 3158
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
621
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's worth trying different times.  I make bone broth, and have found it tastes better after "only" 4-6 hrs at high pressure (versus overnight or longer, which is what I used to do).  When I make seafood broth, I go for a lot less time as well.
 
Posts: 69
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would have to agree with John Rynne that a pressure cooker for vegetable stock for 99 minutes would be excessive. When I was involved in commercial cooking we would simmer the veal bones for hours. But flavor extraction from bones is quite different from flavor extraction from vegies. Try a batch for 10 minutes. I bet it's superior. Then try 5 minutes.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
615
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think it's time for an update on this thread!

First, a confession: I fell out of the habit of making vegetable stock.  A few things contributed. It's a hassle.  And  I ran short of freezer space so if I froze any for longer keeping, it was a problem. Or I'd lose the frozen stock in the back of the freezer for so long that it took on freezer odors/flavors.  And then a few times I lost track of the time and didn't use refrigerated stock before it soured.  But probably the biggest reason was that my vegetable stock wasn't very exciting.  Full of vegetable flavor, sure, and a useful ingredient, but not the sort of thing that calls your name from the fridge and demands "Cook with me, eat me!"

I got to thinking about this a little while back in connection with beef broth.  Now, I'm currently mostly trying not to eat animal products, but sometimes I taste when my wife cooks them for herself and others.  And she's got a method of cooking beef roasts in a slow cooker where she browns it, throws it in the slow cooker pot with some onions and carrots, and "glug glug glugs" a box of commercial vegetable stock on top of it for cooking liquid.  (She's funny about food; she wants everything the same every time she makes a dish, so she wouldn't dream of using homemade stock, which is never the same twice.)  

When her roast is done, she pulls it out of the liquid along with the vegetables.  The cooking liquid, which is now a hybrid veg/beef broth full of beef collagens and beef fat and is extremely delicious, she has no interest in.  She'll feed it to the dogs.  Except, I usually stand there dipping bread in it and stuffing my face for a little while before I get my willpower under control and remember that I don't want all that beef fat in my diet.  

But like I said, this got me thinking.  Why is the beef broth so much more attractive and inviting than my vegetable stock?  Some of it's the beef fat, for certain; and the presence of dissolved collagens gives it a rich body that vegetable stock usually lacks.  And some of it is the broth/stock distinction; broth has seasoning (salt and pepper at least) while stock usually does not.  

That sent me to the internet to do some research.  What could I do, I wondered, to make a vegetable stock as rich and unctious and delicious as that beef broth?

For some palates, it will never happen.  There's no genuine substitute for animal fats, flavor-wise; and vegetable collagen is not really a culinary thing.  But I figured I had to be able to improve my vegetable stock game.  And I turned up several suggestions from diverse sources.  They included:

1) better attention to the flavor profile, by using fewer (or no) bittering brassicas, and by including more sweet vegetables/fruits.  In addition to the carrots everyone uses, parsnip is recommended, or even an apple.
2) more alliums, all the alliums.  Once source says [url=https://skillet.lifehacker.com/how-to-make-truly-great-vegetable-stock-1822194489]there's no such thing as too many alliums[/url] and insists that onion and garlic [i]skins[/i] are essential.  
3) making broth instead of stock -- cook it with salt and pepper.
4) add body with potatoes, beans, or cooked bean liquid.
5) use any or all of dried mushrooms, nutritional yeast, miso, soy sauce, or MSG to add umami.
6) add a little bit of vegetable fat to more closely simulate the fatty mouth feel of animal fats in meat broths.
7) brown or roast some of the vegetables before putting them in the stock pot.

I haven't tried all of these suggestions; I doubt it would be prudent to try them all at once.  But this morning I made a vegetable broth that was miles better than any I've made before.  Indeed I spooned some into a bowl and sopped it up with some old pumpernickel bread, and found it very nearly as satisfying as the same snack with beef broth.  

I was running around my kitchen and garden using a bit of this and a pinch of that, so I can't precisely reproduce my "recipe".  But here's what I remember putting in my pressure cooker, all amounts approximate:

A large red onion with skin on, quartered.
A huge (30" tall, greens the thickness of fingers) green onion from my garden, plus its leek-sized white underground parts.
A handful of chives.
A medium-sized head of garlic, with skins, sliced across the equator to halve and expose all cloves.
A yellow potato, quartered.
A large store carrot, chopped in short chunks.
A carrot thinning from my herb garden, with top.
Several inferior (twisted or distorted) sweet yellow banana peppers, ringed.
A Keiffer (homestead) pear, quartered and core removed.
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved.
A handful of dried pinto beans.
A small handful of fresh dill leaves.
Several sprigs of fresh parsley, curled and flatleaf mixed.
Part of one leaf from my turmeric plant
Two or three leaves of swiss chard.
Two small leaves of kale.
About ten inches of sweet potato vine plus leaves
A large sprig of fresh oregano
A fingertip sized sprig of fresh rosemary
A small handful of fresh basil leaves
A handful of dried pinto beans
A couple teaspoons of dried celery seeds
A teaspoon of peanut butter
A teaspoon of tahini
A tablespoon of olive oil
A half-teaspoon of cumin
A half-teaspoon of curry powder (garam masala)
A couple tablespoons of prepared Chinese/commercial mushroom powder (suspected to contain MSG)
A half-teaspoon of black pepper
A tablespoon of salt
A tablespoon of heavy/dark soy sauce

Then I topped up my eight quart pressure cooker (Instapot) vessel with water to the top of the max-fill indicator line.  

Had to pause and think at that point.  People in this thread, and by far the majority of internet commentators, all urge a very short/fast cook for veg broth made in a pressure cooker.  This is said to contribute to "clean" or "bright" or "fresh" flavors.  But I've tried this a few times, and all I get is a weak sort of dishwater.   I think it might be good advice if you're going for a specific vegetable flavor, but for the dark, rich, full-of-umami and body product I have been craving, I continue to think that longer cook times are needed.  However, I decided to compromise between my first impulse (two hours at high pressure) and the internet's "five to twenty minutes" advice that has let me down so badly in the past.  

I did not brown or roast anything first -- too lazy.

So I let it cook for an hour and then come down to standard pressure on its own (a couple more hours.)  And as mentioned above, it was miles better than any I have made before.  It's dark and rich, the small quantity of vegetable oils in it beads attractively on the surface of the broth, and it's got unaccustomed sweetness and body.  I'm really pleased with it!

I think the main differences are due to the potato and the pinto beans and the tiny amount of nut butters contributing body.  Plus, making it as broth (seasoned) instead of stock (unseasoned).  Keeping the brassicas to a miniscule fraction, plus adding the pear, shifted the flavor balance from sharp to sweet.  I will definitely be making more veg broth again now that I know how to make it actually tasty!




vegetable-broth.jpeg
vegetable broth
Vegetable stock
 
Tim Skufca
Posts: 69
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan, great recipe! I appreciate its complexity. It's amazing how much a little olive oil will bring out the flavor, as well as all the other ingredients you listed. Even if one has a fraction of what you've included here, the key point is that it will have tons more flavor than just using water. Cooking a vegan meal that doesn't taste vegan is a skill. Your recipe here is a great step toward that.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
615
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tim Skufca wrote:Dan, great recipe! I appreciate its complexity. It's amazing how much a little olive oil will bring out the flavor, as well as all the other ingredients you listed. Even if one has a fraction of what you've included here, the key point is that it will have tons more flavor than just using water.



The very first thing I did with it is cook up some nice crimson lentils in three cups of the vegetable broth.  I though this would be a good test because lentils, for all their merits, are often quite bland and dull and a bit of a chore to eat.  As I hoped, they were considerably brighter and more flavorful cooked in this broth instead of in water as per usual.

My one quibble would be that I don't consider this a recipe -- more of a "here's what I did" to demonstrate, as you say, the complexity that I think helped.  I think the tips to increase body and sweetness and umami are important, but one could do this with completely different suite of vegetable bits.  Anybody with a full crisper and/or any amount of live garden ought to be able to achieve similar results, regardless of the particular ingredients that go into the pot.
 
Here. Have a potato. I grew it in my armpit. And from my other armpit, this tiny ad:
Chemerical by Take Action Films (Streaming)
https://permies.com/wiki/chemerical
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!