How to Make Vegetable Broth from Scraps
Gobs of my recipes call for vegetable broth. Even, say, soup that could have chicken in it. The main reason is obvious: most of what I make starts out vegetarian, the meat added later to only a portion for my resident carnivore.
So, a few years ago, I started saving my veggie and herb scraps and freezing them in a gallon freezer bag. When the bag is packed to the brim, I brew up a big old pot of vegetable broth concentrate. Then I freeze it in measured portions and take it out as I need it, adding water and sometimes salt and, voila: veggie broth!
What is vegetable broth made of?
My homemade vegetable broth recipe always contains the following foundation vegetables:
Other vegetables that work well in vegetable broth:
- Parsley leaves & stems
In addition, my vegetable broth contains:
- Bay leaves
To get a gallon-bag full, I just throw my scraps in a designated bag and once it’s full, I make some broth! I peel an onion – the peel goes in the bag (after washing). I chop off the ends of a bunch of celery – into the bag. A couple of carrots languish in the bottom of the produce drawer. I stick them in the bag before they go bad. You get the drift.
Not only do I save a ton of money by making my own vegetable broth from my discards, it adds such a wonderful depth of flavor to dishes that I never quite get from store-bought broth. And I love being able to control the amount of salt that goes into a final recipe.
Homemade Vegetable Broth from Scraps
Freeze your veggie and herb scraps in a gallon freezer bag, then when the bag is packed to the brim, brew up a pot of vegetable broth concentrate. Then just freeze and bring it out when you need it. Easy, delicious, and free!
- One-gallon freezer bag full of assorted vegetable and herb scraps: onion ends and peels, celery bits and leaves, carrot peels and ends, shallots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, leeks, scallions, parsley stems, sage, bits of thyme, rosemary – anything you want, really, though I do avoid lettuce and cucumber.
- About 12 cups of water (to start)
- One or two bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- After you’ve amassed a gallon-sized freezer bag full of veggies from days of diligent scrap-gathering, dump the frozen contents of the bag into a large stock pot.
- Fill the pot with water about 3 inches from the top – I end up adding around 12 cups of water initially.
- Add the bay leaves and peppercorns.
- Lightly push the vegetables down with a wooden spoon. Avoid stirring at any time during the process – that can make the broth cloudy.
- Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, keeping at a steady, simmer.
- Simmer until the liquid has reduced by just about half – this takes about an hour.
- Add enough water to return the liquid to its former level. Push the veggies down every once in awhile.
- Bring to a simmer again, and again continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about another hour.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Strain the broth concentrate by first pouring it through a colander and then pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Pour the broth concentrate into containers in 1/2 cup, 1 cup, or 2 cup increments. A standard muffin tin is 1/2 cup, and works well here.
- When the broth concentrate has frozen completely, remove from the freezer and place the chunks in a labeled freezer bag.
- When you’re ready to use the broth, bring out a broth concentrate cube and place it in a bowl. Pour an equal amount of hot water over the broth cube (if the broth cube is 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup water) and and, if desired, add 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of finished broth.
- You may need to microwave the frozen broth concentrate to thaw it completely, or let it sit on the counter for a bit until it thaws. Depending on the recipe, I’ll just add it frozen and adjust the recipe times accordingly.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a portion of the proceeds. More about this here.