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The Briny Addition That Gives Vegetable Stock A Burst Of Umami

herbs going into vegetable stock
herbs going into vegetable stock - Gmvozd/Getty Images

Whether you use it as the base for a stew or drink it straight from a mug when you're feeling under the weather, vegetable stock is a hearty and versatile ingredient with dozens of applications. Unlike vegetable broth, vegetable stock is made from whole veggies and simmered for at least two hours for a more robust vegetal flavor. Delicious as it may be, sometimes vegetable stock lacks the umami depth that's typically found in meat-sourced stocks. However, with the help of one small briny ingredient, you can up the savory spirit of your favorite vegetable stock. Enter olives.

Olives are high in an amino acid called glutamate, which is responsible for the umami flavor profile. Including them in your vegetable stock is an easy way to provide it with a full-bodied and satisfyingly savory depth that complements the earthy essence of the other vegetables. Olives are typically sold in brine, and if your favorite olive jar is packaged with a fermented brine, it can contribute to the development of complex flavors and bolster its umami essence.

Adding olives to your vegetable stock is as easy as dropping a handful into your pot of simmering veggies. For a more pronounced umami flavor, introduce them earlier in the cooking process, but if you want a more understated savory presence, incorporate them into the mix about halfway through the cooking process.

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Olive Varieties

Various olives in bowl
Various olives in bowl - Avocado_studio/Shutterstock

All olives contain umami notes, but they come in different shades and flavors, so before you add them to your next batch of vegetable stock, consider the different cultivars to determine which type works best in your recipe.

Bold and intense, Taggiasca olives pack a strong umami punch, making them one of the finest choices for giving homemade vegetable stock a meaty depth sans meat. Rich and nutty, kalamata olives possess an umami-forward spirit that's subtly accented by smoky, fruity undertones. Niçoise olives, commonly used in French and Mediterranean cuisines, boast a mild savoriness with a pleasant hint of bitterness that meshes seamlessly with the other earthy veggies and greens in your stock. Mission olives are an American cultivar with a classic olive taste punctuated by a present saltiness that can enhance the other flavors, spices, and aromatics included in your stock.

Whether or not the flavor of olives is diminished by removing the pit remains a great debate among foodies. Some say olives that contain the seed at their center have a stronger flavor than those that have been pitted, but any type of olive, pitted or not, flaunts an intense taste, so the choice is ultimately yours.

Uses For Olive-Infused Veggie Stock

Vegetable stock in bowl
Vegetable stock in bowl - Margouillatphotos/Getty Images

Now that you've fired up the pot for a batch of olive-studded vegetable stock, you'll need some ideas for putting it to use. This umami-jammed vegetable stock is a versatile concoction that can be applied to a vast range of recipes, ensuring that your options for use aren't limited.

Use olive-infused vegetable stock as a base for marinating various meats and plant-based proteins like tofu, seitan, and tempeh. The stock's umami-dense profile will provide a flavorful and tenderizing effect on your go-to proteins. Include the olivey vegetable stock in soups or stews to give them a satisfying and hearty baseline that serves as a canvas for other ingredients to shine. Rice and other grains can be boring on their own, but cooking them in this briny stock gives them an exciting new edge. Incorporate stock into sauces and gravies to give them an earthy yet comforting flavor that enhances a wide range of dishes from pasta to mashed potatoes.

Don't limit yourself, either. Drink it from a mug to soothe a sore throat or cook it into a paella recipe, because if you can dream it, with this olive vegetable stock, you can achieve it!

Read the original article on Daily Meal.