I have just come back from another short trip by car. This time it was Berlin. Upon my arrival the fridge was totally empty (no chicken simmered in gochujang this time…) apart from some seriously wilted and generally dying vegetables, leftover from a stock I made two weeks before. I cut them into pieces and dried on my radiators (in warmer seasons I put them into the oven running at the lowest temperature, see the explanation below). Afterwards, they were put into a jar to become an emergency solution when I don’t have time to go and buy fresh vegetables but want to make chicken stock. I know many home cooks who always throw away wilted, slightly dried vegetables found at the bottom of the fridge drawers, so I thought it might be a good idea to share this simple way to avoid food waste.
Everyone uses slightly different ingredients in meat or vegetable stock making process. Some people add cabbage, some use celery… My stock pan always contains – dried or fresh – carrots, green leek parts, celeriac and parsley root (which is difficult to get here, so as soon as I buy it, I dry it). I also put a fresh onion and in recent years I have also started to add a piece of ginger, which doesn’t change the taste, but somehow makes the stock more dynamic, fresh and simply better. Ginger and onions are the only ingredients I never use here in dried form mainly because I always have them fresh in my fridge and, in the case of ginger, because its taste becomes too harsh after the drying process. (I also prepare a special stock only for Japanese ramen soups, but it differs slightly in both the preparation and the ingredients’ list. See the recipe here.)
In case you have some wilted daikon (white radish) or apples, you might consider drying them too. Dried daikon makes excellent pickles and dried apples are a delicious snack.
TIPS: You can mix the dried vegetables in one jar or store all of them separately or store just one vegetable separately if you cannot get it easily or if you buy it rarely. I store separately parsley root because it’s difficult to get here and I dry a big batch as soon as I manage to buy it. Even if other vegetables are fresh, I have to use dried parsley root most of the time.
The ratio between different vegetables depends on your preferences. I usually try not to put too many carrots because the stock might end up sweetish. My leek-carrot-celeriac ratio is – approximately – 4:2:1.
Once the vegetables are dried, you can mix them in a food processor to obtain powdered vegetable stock.
If you don’t stock onion (as I have mentioned I always have it in my fridge), you can also add it to your mixture.
I don’t advise using dried ginger in stocks. The taste becomes much stronger than when using fresh ginger.
Preparation: several hours – several days depending on the drying method
green parts of the leek
Wash the vegetables, cut them into small pieces of your choice (I cut the leek into thick slices, slice the carrot and parsley root with a mandolin and cut the celeriac into big sticks).
If the vegetables are wilted, it might be difficult to peel them, so I just brush them thoroughly.
Place the vegetable pieces on baking paper and dry them choosing one of the below methods:
———DRYING ON A RADIATOR:
Cut a piece of baking paper similar in size and shape to the surface of your radiator.
Place the vegetable pieces, making sure they do not touch each other.
If your radiators are very thin or have another form which doesn’t allow placing a flat piece of baking paper, you can use the STOVE-DRYING method (see below).
The vegetables are ready when they are completely dry. It takes one to three days depending on your radiator’s temperature and the size of the vegetable pieces.
Put the dried cool vegetables in a jar with a lid (or in separate jars). They will keep at least for a year (no need to refrigerate).
———DRYING IN THE OVEN:
Preheat the oven to 50°C (122°F).
Place the vegetable pieces on baking paper, making sure they do not touch each other.
Taste them every 4-5 hours to check the dryness (they should be completely dry).
The drying process can be divided into several days.
Put the dried, cool vegetables in a jar with a lid. They will keep at least for a year (no need to refrigerate).