Every day, edible food ends up in landfills. Perhaps it’s just nearing the end of its life, or it’s the unwanted parts of vegetables like onion scraps or broccoli stems. But what if there was a way to reduce your food waste and save money? We’re sharing the best tips for how to transform your kitchen scraps into a delicious vegetable broth.
Vegetable stock is a very versatile ingredient that’s a critical ingredient in many dishes. Risotto, soup, stroganoff, and even just deglazing the pan are just a few ways you can use it! Buying vegetable stock at the grocery store can really add up over time. In my grocery store, veggie broth starts at $2 a can! Not to mention loaded with sodium. With some recipes calling for a few cups, making your own vegetable broth is a great way to save money. Once you realize how easy it is to make, you’ll save yourself the trip to the store. Not to mention, it makes your house smell phenomenal.
The Untapped Potential of Vegetable Scraps
In the world of sustainable cooking, vegetable scraps are like hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Onion skins or peels, carrot tops, celery ends, and herb stems might seem insignificant, but they pack a punch of flavor and nutrients. Most times, they are often thrown away because their value is overlooked.
Before you toss them away, consider giving them a second life in your homemade broth. There is no set vegetable broth recipe; you use what you have, and the combination will create delicious flavors. My preferred method of making homemade broth is vegetable broth, but the method is the same if you decide to add a poultry carcass or other animal bones to create chicken stock, fish stock, or beef stock.
Collect your ingredients (over time)
The process of preparing to make vegetable stock starts with saving various vegetable scraps over time. The best way to do this is to store your scraps in a freezer bag or a freezer-safe container. This will prevent them from spoiling in the refrigerator or on the counter. It might take a few weeks to collect enough to make stock, but it happens sooner than you realize. When the bag gets full, that’s the perfect time to make stock.
Another great practice I use to gather my ingredients to make vegetable stock is to make it on the same day your clean out your refrigerator. Half an onion you used for a recipe? Put that in the stock. Any wilted vegetables that you won’t eat or you were going to discard? Save it for the stock.
Aim for a mix of aromatic elements like onions, garlic, and leeks, along with root vegetables such as carrots or carrot peels and potato peels. Some other great adds are bell peppers, the stalks of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower make great additions as well. Don’t forget to add celery, parsley stems, and any other odds and ends you have in the vegetable drawer. The more diverse, the better!
How to Make Vegetable Broth: A Rough Guide
Here’s a rough recipe of the vegetable scraps I collect, and how I make my vegetable broth:
- 3 onion peels
- Half an Onion
- Garlic Skins
- 5 Garlic Cloves
- 1 carrot
- Beet Tops
- 1 tsp Whole Black Pepper Corns
- 1 tbsp salt
Get a Stock Pot Ready
The steps for how to make vegetable broth doesn’t get more simple than this. It’s quite impossible to mess up. All you’ll need is a large pot or a Dutch oven. Place the vegetable scraps in the pot, and then cover with a few cups of cold water, or enough so that you cover the ingredients.
Once covered, bring the pot to a gentle simmer. This is where the magic happens. As the vegetables release their essence into the liquid, creating your own homemade vegetable stock broth that’s both comforting and tasty. Add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavors.
If you don’t have one, here are my suggestions for some great large pots:
Customize your Flavor
Enhance the complexity of your homemade vegetable broth by adding different spices. Some great options for spices to add are bay leaves, peppercorns, and a pinch of salt to elevate the flavor profile. Feel free to get creative and experiment with your favorite herbs and spices. A dash of turmeric, ginger, or a sprig of thyme can add a unique twist to your vegetable broth.
Simmer, Simmer, Simmer
Now, let the broth simmer away on low heat. This slow-cooking process allows the flavors to meld and intensify. As you wait, your kitchen will be filled with the irresistible aroma of homemade goodness. It’s a good idea to keep the pot on low for a few hours with the lid covered to preserve the flavors. The longer it simmers, the greater depth of flavor you have.
How to Store Vegetable Broth:
You’ll know your delicious homemade veggie stock is done when the vegetable water is golden or dark brown. If you’re doing this for the first time, it’ll take a few hours. When it’s reached this point, you’ll want to grab a few containers, a ladle, and a fine mesh strainer.
My preferred way to do this is to place the mesh strainer on top of the container and ladle it in. Seal the container once it’s full and refrigerate immediately. You can also freeze the container, but if it’s glass, let it come to room temperature first so the glass doesn’t shatter. Make sure you compost all of the scraps!
Some Ideas for Storage containers:
- Freezer safe containers
- Airtight containers
- Deli containers (reuse what you have)
- Food Saver Bags
Recipes with Vegetable Broth
Other Ideas for recipes that use vegetable broth include mushroom stroganoff, french onion soup, and risotto. But if you’re looking for recipes today, check out some of our recipe suggestions below:
The humble homemade stock is a culinary superhero poised to rescue discarded veggie scraps from the bin. It’s the perfect base for soup, sauces, or meals that elevates your cooking and transforms kitchen waste into a flavorful solution. It’s not just about crafting delicious meals but about taking a stand against food waste. Reduce your food waste and save money by incorporating homemade vegetable broth into your culinary repertoire and make the change for you, the planet, and your wallet!
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