Homemade Stock Cubes

by Barry Lewis

Ingredients

For the stock powder

1 Carrot, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 leek, chopped

1 onion, quartered

1/2 tsp paprika

Salt (20% of the total weight of vegetables)

handful of parsley

handful of thyme, no stalks

handful of rosemary, no stalks

4-5 sage leaves, chopped

For the risotto

Approx 800g-1kg butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and choppped

3-4 sage leaves, chopped plus extra to fry/garnish

few tbsp olive oil

1tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

300g arborio rice

150ml white wine

1.5litre vegetable stock

60g parmesan

I’ve always wondered what is in a stock cube / stock powder. So in this video I decide to attempt to make my own homemade vegetable stock, then make a risotto and compare the taste versus a store bought one!

Homemade stock cubes / powder

This is quite an easy thing to do, the thing that is the most complicated is waiting and not getting distracted! Prepare all of your vegetables and herbs you are using, you can mix this up in a massive amount of ways / styles using your favourite ingredients, perhaps even charring peppers beforehand could be a really fun one to try for example. Weigh all of the ingredients on a scale, whatever they come to, weigh out 20% of that weight in salt to act as a preservative for the stock powder.

Add the paprika, salt, herbs and vegetables to a non stick pan & mix together – remember, no oil required… and cook over a medium low heat, stirring often for 2 hours or until fully dried out. Once it starts cooking initially the vegetables will sweat and let out lots of moisture, we are effectively simmering this off and drying out the vegetables and herbs fully. Do not leave it for too long without stirring or it could burn easily. Once dried, remove from the heat and place into a blender. Whizz the mixture up until smooth and baby food like in appearance.

Now pre-heat the oven to 130fan/150c and spread the mixture out onto a lined baking tray evenly. Bake for 90 minutes, taking it out and stirring it / breaking it up every 30 minutes. By the end you should have dried out crunchy crumbs of super condensed vegetable stock! It won’t look like that though and don’t be tempted to taste it either – it’ll taste like the sea!

Place the dried out mixture into a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs, this is now your very own homemade stock powder that will last for 3 months sealed in an airtight container in a cool place! You could also freeze it, although if you want to make it stock cube shape a small amount of water added with the powder and pressed into an ice cube tray can help achieve that, but really, as a powder in a jar, it’s just as good, plus a bit neater!

The taste of this homemade stock is super condensed and really powerful, plus you know exactly what has gone into it! Put it in whatever you fancy, such as this risotto….

Butternut squash risotto

Start off by scattering the butternut squash and sage on a baking tray and drizzling the olive oil on top. Using your hands or a wooden spoon mix and coat well in the herbs and the oil. Roast the butternut squash until charred, around 30 minutes on an oven pre-heat to 200fan/220c.

Meanwhile get a saucepan and fry the onions in the butter on a medium heat, stirring continuously, don’t char the onions, just cook them through for ten minutes. Then add the rice in with the onions and keep cooking coating the rice in the butter for a further 5 minutes. Add in the wine and keep cooking over the hob, let the wine completely evaporate off before slowly adding the stock in 4 or 5 batches, adding the next batch after each bit evaporates away. This will probably take about 20-25 minutes in total to get through and the rice should be nice and creamy.

Take the squash out of the oven, mash up some of it and stir through the rice, leaving some chunky pieces to garnish with. Also stir through the cheese and another tbsp butter and turn off the heat, allowing the ingredients to melt into it. If you have time, in a smaller frying pan fry some sage leaves in oil for a few minutes resting on kitchen towel. When serving pile up the risotto rice, dump some chunky butternut squash on top, then sprinkle over the fried sage leaves if using. Delicious!

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