This weekend I had an astonishing amount of asparagus ends, wild leek roots and leaves and fiddlehead stalks. Literally pounds of the stuff that I couldn't bring myself to throw out. I had to do something with all that stuff.The answer, or course, is vegetable stock. I made my first foray into preserving for 2010 this weekend with pickled asparagus, pickled fiddleheads and pickled wild leeks. My asparagus was so successful last year that I was determined to make more this year. So I ended up with 8 bunches of asparagus, roughly 9 lbs of it, 2 lbs of fiddleheads and 2 lbs of wild leeks. The woody ends of 9 lbs of asparagus makes for a huge pile of cast off vegetable.
I tossed everything, including the roots of the leeks, into my big stock pot, added cold water so it was just covering the vegetables. I brought it to a boil, reduced the heat so it simmered, and then walked away and let it cook for a couple of hours, until is resembled something like swampwater. The resulting stock is so intensely flavoured, that I think I'm going to try and make some kind of asparagus consomme, maybe a Thai kind of soup with bird's eye chilis and lemongrass.
One of the great things about making vegetable stock is that it is different each time, depending on what vegetables you are tossing into the pot. I like to keep a bowl in fridge where I put all the odds and ends of vegetables I'm using and then when the bowl is full, I just make a bit of stock. Sometimes I roast the vegetables first, and sometimes I just put them in water. You never have to waste vegetable ends again.