Homemade Vegetable Broth

It’s not as intimidating as it sounds.

I’ve always balked at making my own vegetable broth. Buying vegetables specifically for broth seemed like such a waste! I may be squeezing out the flavor, but what about the nutrients? So many are left behind in the limp vegetables that are thrown away (or composted). I tried it and I just couldn’t get into it.

So, I resorted to bullion. I like the flavor and ease of bullion, but so many are SUPER high in sodium and have ingredients I cannot pronounce (why are THOSE always the most tasty?!). 

I cannot resort to the prepared broths. They are far too expensive.

Again, I turned to homemade vegetable broth. I was convinced there had to be an easier and cheaper way to make vegetable broth. Others say “Oh, just through your scraps in a pot and make broth!”  I didn’t understand how that would work. I never have enough scraps from one meal to make broth. I rarely have enough time or energy to make one more thing while I’m making a meal. This just didn’t seem practical.

Then, I realized that I could save my scraps until I had enough and then make broth when I had time.

Simple concept. But it changed everything.

What I do

When I’m using vegetables for a dish, I through the scraps into a ziplock bag and place in the fridge. When the bag is full, I dump it into a large soup pot and cover the scraps with water. I bring it to a boil and let simmer for about 2 hours. I scoop out the veggie scraps and through them away. Then, I place the delicious broth in 1-2 cup glass jars and freeze it.

Why I do it

If I didn’t save the scraps, they would be thrown away. So, if I save them and don’t end up using them before they go bad, it doesn’t matter – they were going to be thrown away anyway.
Plus, by freezing my broth, it will keep for several months instead of several days, giving me more flexibility as to when I use it. Instead of recycling glass jars, I re-use them. They work great for freezing broth and cooked beans. Trust me – it doesn’t take long to have a plethora of glass jars available.

I don’t add any salt to my broth when I’m making it. Instead, I add salt when I use it. The dish determines the seasoning needed. By keeping my broth really simple, I make it more versatile.

What veggies to use

Pretty much anything. Ginger peelings, peelings from any root vegetable (e.g., carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips), stems from greens (e.g., kale, chard, collards), onion peelings, winter squash peelings and seeds,  mushroom stems, and herb stems are all delicious.

I’ve found that garlic peelings don’t lend much flavor, and I generally keep out tomato stems.

It usually takes me 2 weeks to gather enough scraps for a batch of broth. I have yet to have any of the scraps go bad before I’ve been able to use them.

If you’ve never tried making vegetable broth before, now is a great time to start saving some veggie scraps. You have no risk in saving some scraps that were going to be thrown away anyway. Once you have a full bag, make some broth. Think about a time when you are going to be home anyway and can have a pot of veggies simmering in the background.

Using frozen broth

When I want to use broth, I run hot water over the jar for about a minute and then microwave it for a couple of minutes to melt most of it. This enables me to get it out of the jar and add it to my dish, which is usually in a saucepan and warming on the stove. It takes about the same amount of time to use frozen broth as it does to make broth from bouillon.

Are you convinced yet? I hope so! This has been one of my favorite recent discoveries since baked oatmeal. Try it!

Homemade Vegetable Broth
Approx. 4 quarts broth | 2-3 hours | Print

1 gallon ziplock bag of vegetable scraps
1 gallon of water (or so)

  1. Place vegetable scraps into a large soup pot. Add the water. Check to see if there is enough water by stirring the scraps. They need a little bit of room to move around but not too much that your broth becomes diluted. You can always  dilute your broth later if it is too strong.
  2. Cover. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook for 1-2 hours or until the broth is to your liking. Remember that it will taste a little flat because there is no salt added at this time.
  3. Turn off the heat, remove the cover, and let cool about 30 minutes. Using a strainer or a slotted spoon, scoop out most of the vegetable scraps and toss (or compost). Place the strainer on top of a liquid measuring cup and pour the broth through the strainer into the measuring cup until it is full. Pour the broth into glass jars, leaving a little room at the top to allow for expansion (broken glass jars in the freezer are not fun…). Repeat until all the broth is in the jars.
  4. Let cool for an hour or two and then place in the freezer until ready to use.

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