Vegetable stocks, made without any animal products, play an important role in vegetarian cooking and are also used in more traditional kitchens in response to customers' requests for light, healthful dishes.The basic ingredients for vegetable stocks are veg-etables,herbs and spices, water, and, sometimes,wine.
Ingredients and proportions can vary greatly. If you want a particular flavor to predominate, use a larger quantity of that vegetable. For example, if you want a broth tasting primarily of asparagus, use a large quantity of asparagus to make it, with smaller quantities of more neutral vegetables (like onion and celery) to round out the flavor. For a more neutral, all-purpose vegetable stock, avoid strong-flavored vegetables and use more balanced proportions of the various ingredients.
Here are a few additional guidelines for making vegetable stocks or broths:
1. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash make a stock cloudy. Use them only if clarity is not important.
2. Some vegetables, especially strong-flavored ones, are best avoided. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and artichokes can overwhelm a stock with a strong flavor or odor. Dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach, develop an unpleasant flavor when cooked for a long time. Beets turn a stock red.
3. Cook long enough to extract flavors but not so long that flavors are lost. Best cooking times are 30 to 45 minutes.
4. Sweating the vegetables in a small amount of oil before adding water gives them a mellower flavor, but this step can be omitted. Butter can be used if it is not necessary to avoid all animal products.
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