Are you always reading the list of contents of the food you are just about to buy? Eating no convenience products? I am not. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not that consequent as I would like to be. I try to eat healthy, cook with natural ingredients and avoid all the flavour enhancers, artificial colour, flavour, stabilisers etc.. But then this is not always that easy as a consumer. Organisations like foodwatch or sites like the German Das ist drin (That’s in it) – and lately the governmental initiative Lebensmittelklarheit can help to bring some clarity into the big universe of food additives and misleading advertising. A more fun way of spreading consciousness about food is what f. ex. Ulrike from the German food blog Küchenlatein does: On her blog she has this nice category “Kochen ohne Tüte” (Cooking without packet) where she throws some light on common convenience food and their contents – before she cooks the same dish without using a packet, can or the like.
I decided as well to escape food industry in my own way and chose on of those supermarket products I regularly use for cooking to be substituted: vegetable stock powder. There were times when I had three or four different organic stock powders in my cupboard looking for one to be equivalent in taste to the ones by the common brands. I couldn’t find one and gave up… This time I made a restart with homemade stock powder. After reading myself through some recipes to find out that they only vary in nuances, I gave it a try myself – and I am convinced! I was sceptical about the flavour having in mind my odysey for the perfect natural vegetable stock. But this is just great! I should have tried this so much earlier…
What you have to do herefore isn’t very difficult, you just have to bring some time with you.
Grab some classical vegetables and herbs for stock, chop and then blend them. I used:
2 carrots, 1/2 small celery root and leaves, 1 small leak, 2 onions, 1 capsicum, 2 tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 1 bunch parsley, (I also wanted to add some lovage, but couldn’t get one this time)
Weight the vegetable-mixture and add half the amount of sea salt. Spread the mixture on a baking tray and let it dry in the oven at 100° C for eight hours (Put a spoon into the oven door to allow the condensing water to escape). You will have little clusters of salt and vegetable, that you can blend once again. And here it is!
To give you an idea about dimensions ( you can see it on the pictures as well, just take the red bowl as your standard):
My vegetable weighed 1,4 kg, so I added 700 g of salt. After drying and blending it got me exactly 823 g of stock powder (not counting the bits landing on the kitchen surface, floor, in the sink during the whole process…). So, if my calculation is right, the vegetables are concentrated about tenfold now.
I was positively surprised not only about taste, but as well about the yield of the stock powder. For 1 litre of soup you need about 2 teaspoons of the concentrate. This will last me for a great while… and as it is dried, it will probably keep for ages.