How to save my vegetable stock

I'm making vegetable stock right now, and it's been going for around an hour and a half. Just tasted it and it was super bitter -- and then, duh, remembered I had put dandelion greens stems in there. Is it save-able? If I keep it cooking will the sweetness of the other veg help? Let me know!

Brette Warshaw


Kirk H. August 9, 2017
Easy, chop one sweet apple (red delicious or pink lady) for each litre (quart) of bitter stock then give the stock two more hours. After that, if there's still a little bitterness, I suggest Coconut Blossom Nectar, or Raw Turbinado Sugar, added in tiny amounts, stirred in, and tasted after at least two minutes. This is not strictly about flavour, it's also about chemical reactions.
susanne January 25, 2014
i've been making vegetable stock by tossing the trimmings from vegetables as i prepare them for dinner--carrot tops, thick parsley stems, onion peels, chard stems, red pepper shoulders and cores, etc--directly into the ceramic bowl of my 1.5 qt slow cooker. i add water and cook it on low overnight. next day, just strain and there is lovely broth for making soup for lunch, or for other dishes at dinner. i haven't had any trouble with bitterness, maybe due to the lower cooking temperature? and i do avoid cabbage family trimmings.
Diana B. January 25, 2014
Cookinginvictoria, thanks so much for posting that link - as ATG says, it's a great find!
ATG117 January 25, 2014
That sfgate article is a great fine.
AntoniaJames January 24, 2014
Following up on the point made above that the stock should not be cooked for more than 45 minutes: I went back to check my notes and this and found this Hotline thread on chicken stock from two years ago that may interest you: It was Ruhlman who passed on the advice about the 45 minute maximum time for the vegetables to cook in the stock. ;o)
AntoniaJames January 23, 2014
Yes, NB as well that hard herb stems in particular can cause bitterness, even when cooked for shorter periods. I've learned the hard way that I must remove the leaves from the branches of my lush (gorgeous to look at) rosemary. It imbues a harsh resinous taste.
cookinginvictoria January 23, 2014
Would love to see this topic featured in the food52 column How to Cook Without a Recipe. Much of what I learned about making vegetable stock is from Deborah Madison in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I also cook vegetable stocks for no longer than 45 minutes. Other great tips from Deborah that seem to make a difference: 1) Cut vegetables small (about 1 inch), so that maximum surface area is exposed. 2) For deeper, richer flavor, brown vegetables first in a bit of oil or butter before adding water. 3) After cooking, strain. If vegetables and herbs steep in the liquid for too long, they may give the stock a bitter taste.

This link also has great info about making all kinds of stock:
luvcookbooks January 23, 2014
I agree that this would be a great topic for a column. I make a nice mushroom stock from a Deborah Madison recipe but other vegetable stocks elude me and I end up using water.
SKK January 23, 2014
Totally agree with AJ. Another idea is the best vegetable stock I have ever tasted from 101 cookbooks and is a homemade vegetable bouillon. Have it in my freezer always.
SKK January 23, 2014
So miss the edit button. Meant to say the best vegetable stock I have ever had comes from a recipe from 101 cookbooks and the base is a vegetable bouillon. Divine.
Pegeen January 23, 2014
This topic would make a great column!
AntoniaJames January 22, 2014
For future reference, you really don't need to simmer vegetable stock any longer than 45 minutes. (I've found that all other things being equal, longer simmering vegetable stocks become bitter, even without any offending ingredients. Celery can also make stock bitter.) Several well-respected chefs advise to stop at 45 minutes for a different reason. At that point, the vegetables have broken down to the point where they start absorbing the stock, so you end up throwing that flavor into the green waste bin, compost, etc. I find that peppercorns make stock bitter, too. (I read somewhere that I'm not alone in this. The proprietress of Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Plaza Building also does not use peppercorns in her $16/quart stock, for that reason.) ;o)
Pegeen January 22, 2014
Parsnips? Sweet potato?
Sarah January 22, 2014
Tomato paste is acidic. If you do try adding carrots, don't use the peel as that can be bitter as well. Selecting ingredients for stock should always be done with care. A good ratio to go by is three parts water, one part mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion), and one part additional vegetables. Avoid adding greens and cruciferous (broccoli, cabbage, cress) vegetables because of their strong flavors. Good luck!

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bigpan January 22, 2014
Carrots are a good sweetener - but "shred" them so you will have maximum surface exposed to the broth. Simmer until you like it, then strain. You can also add a bit of tomato paste to offset the bitterness.
Kels M. January 22, 2014
Perhaps adding more carrotts and sweet onions, if you had them, would help cut the bitterness? Even just regular onions, with their stronger flavor, would mask that bitter bite.
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