Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something by clicking this link, I may earn a small commission, but you won't pay anything extra. This helps me keep the site running. For our full affiliate link disclosure, click here.
How often do you find yourself reaching for vegetable broth while cooking? It's the base for so many meals; soups, stews, many sauces, and even marinades. For most families, vegetable broth is a pantry staple.
Did you know that you don't have to spend money on those tiny cans or flavorless boxes of broth from the grocery store? You can create your very own stock from vegetable scraps, in your own kitchen. and it tastes so much better!
First things first; are stock and broth the same thing? Technically, no. Stock usually refers to something that was made with bones, such as chicken stock, and it is usually full of good-for-you collagen. Broth refers to any liquid that has had meat or vegetables cooked in it. For more information, check out this post from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn. Since veggies clearly have no bones (or meat, for that matter), we'll call our creation broth.
Now that we've gotten that fun fact out of the way, let's get started with the good stuff! Making stock is so simple and easy (not to mention cost-effective), you'll wonder why you haven't done it before now.
What ingredients will you need?
A one-gallon freezer bag full of vegetable scraps
One tablespoon of salt (I use Himalayan sea salt)
One teaspoon of black peppercorns
Two to three good-sized stems each of fresh sage, parsley, basil, and rosemary
Three bay leaves
What about equipment?
A large stockpot
A cooking spoon
A mesh strainer
A pot/bowl to strain the broth into. Make sure you can pour out of it.
Mason jars with lids and seals
A pressure canner (optional)
Steps to making your own broth:
First, dump the freezer bag full of scraps into the stockpot and cover them with water. You don't need to be precise, just make sure all the veggies are under the water. It usually takes around one gallon of water. Stir well. Don't worry if the veggies are still frozen, they'll thaw quickly.
Next, add the salt and whole black peppercorns to the pot. Then tear the sage, parsley, and basil into large pieces and toss them on top of the vegetables. Add the rosemary and bay leaves to the pot whole, then stir it well. It's ready to cook!
Place the stockpot on your stovetop and bring it to a full boil. Once it's boiling, cover it and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Let it simmer for about two hours, or longer if you wish. I've let mine simmer for up to six hours before, and it's always fine.
Once it's simmered long enough, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heat. You'll want to let it cool completely before you handle it to avoid getting burned. I usually let mine cool for at least an hour, but sometimes it takes longer. When it's cool, you're ready to move on.
Set your second pot in the sink, and place your colander inside it. Pour the broth into the colander to strain all the vegetable scraps out, leaving the liquid in the pot. Move the colander to the side.
Now it's time to fill the jars. If you're going to can them, leave one inch of headspace. If you plan to freeze them, I recommend closer to three inches to allow for expansion. Set your first jar in the sink and set the mesh strainer on top of it. Slowly and carefully pour the stock through the strainer to fill the jar to the appropriate level. Using the strainer ensures that there is no "sediment" floating in the finished product. Repeat until you have filled all the jars and your stock is gone. I usually get around three quarts.
Wipe the threads of the jar dry and place the lids and seals. If you plan to can these, you'll need to pressure can them following your canner manufacturer's guidelines. I have a Presto* canner (thank you to my sweet husband for that awesome birthday gift), and I process almostbroth at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes. Pint jars process for 20 minutes. Always follow your canner manufacturer's guidelines. Note: The link above is to a slightly newer model of the same canner I use. If you take care of these, they can last you a lifetime.
If you prefer to freeze your broth, leave your jars open (no lids) and allow them to cool to room temperature. Then you can carefully put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, place the seals and lids.
Either option you choose, make sure you label and date the jars clearly. If properly canned, your broth should be safe to eat for up to three years. We always use ours within a few months, however. If you freeze it, it should store safely for up to four months.
I add the scraps from almost any vegetable we use to our scrap bag. This includes tomato ends, green bean ends, squash and cucumber ends, potato peels, sweet pepper tops and seeds, carrot ends, garlic and onion skins, etc. I even add veggies that may be past their prime but are still safe; for example, wilted celery or wrinkled carrots. Stems from whole herbs get thrown into the bag, too.
I have seen other posts recommend not using certain herbs or vegetables because their taste is strong and could be overpowering. I've never had this problem, but if you're sensitive to certain tastes, you might want to consider this when you're adding scraps to your bag.
I have also seen people advise against adding certain things to broth because it might make it cloudy. This does not bother me in the slightest. If you're concerned about cloudy broth, you might want to research which vegetables to avoid.
I use my broth like I would any storebought broth. I use it as a base for soups and stews, and we love using it in place of water to boil vegetables and beans. The flavor it lends is amazing, and sometimes we don't need to use any extra seasoning.
Making homemade vegetable broth allows me to use scraps that would otherwise have ended up in the garbage can. We can no longer have our compost pile thanks to a small herd of Great Pyrenees that like to eat from it. To keep our fur babies from getting sick, we gave up the compost pile. But thanks to this recipe, we didn't have to give up on our scraps. Give this pantry staple a shot, you'll be glad you did!
Do you make your own stock and have some tips for us? Please share them in the comments!