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Learn New Skills in 2021: Making Homemade Vegetable Broth

Don’t want to scroll through a novel before you get to the recipe? Click here to view the Vegetable_Broth_Recipe.pdf. If you don’t mind a little reading first, carry on 🙂

If there’s one thing people learned last year it’s new skills in the kitchen from making focaccia bread to whipped coffee. If you haven’t tried making your own vegetable broth yet, I definitely recommend adding homemade broth to your “cooking-knowledge toolbox”.

Digital sketch of a old wooden toolbox with a human brain sketched on the side of it depicting a "Knowledge Toolbox". Illustration signed, Sara Kerr TheKerrminator.com.

Broth adds flavors, aromas, and nutrients and can be added to a wide variety of dishes and foods. Sometimes adding broth to a recipe can give it an extra bit of flavor to make a normally bland dish much more rich and flavorful. Plus you can use it in soup and dip the bread you learned how to make in 2020 in it.

Would your meals benefit from broth?

Think about some of the meals you make now.

  • What are some of your go-to meals and what veggies do you cook the most?
  • What sauces, soups, pastas, grains do you eat now?
  • What vegetable scraps do you find yourself throwing out?
  • Are there any savory meals you use water in that you could substitute broth for instead?

Broth could be added to rice, quinoa, lentils, gravies, soups, sauces, ramen, or just drank on its own as a soothing, healthful beverage, just to name a few uses.

The Process

Considerations:

Obviously you could just buy vegetable stock or broth, but I’m going to walk you through a cost-effective way to make it yourself for almost no cost. You could use fresh, whole vegetables, but if you want to be really frugal, you can do what I do, which is save edible vegetable trimmings from cooking other meals. For example, if I chop the leafy tops off celery, or skin some carrots, I’ll wash them  and store them in the freezer. Trimmings like these are edible, just not what I wanted to include in the meal I was cooking. Rather than throwing them out or composting them, they can be saved and used to make broth/stock.

Here are a couple things to remember when saving and storing vegetable scraps and trimmings…

  • Do not store anything that is:
    • Rotten
    • Moldy/Mildewy
    • Dirty 
  • Some vegetables are better for broth than others. Some things to consider when choosing which vegetables you should save for your broth:
    • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and yams tend to make broth cloudy
    • Some vegetables add a more bitter taste, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
    • Here are some great veggies and items to start with:
      • Celery
      • Carrots
      • Onions, green onions, leeks, shallots
      • Mushrooms
      • Tomatoes
      • Garlic
      • Rosemary
      • Thyme
      • Oregano
      • Parsley
Black and white digital line drawing sketch of green onions, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, parsley, and rosemary. Illustration signed, Sara Kerr TheKerrminator.com.

Another thing I want to mention, especially if you’re reading this as someone still learning to cook, don’t forget to have fun with it. I know, “it’s just broth”, what’s fun about that? What I mean is, try to go into any new recipe seeing it as an experiment that you get to develop. Just because I said broccoli can make your broth bitter, doesn’t mean you can’t try! We all have different taste preferences, eating habits, likes, and dislikes so if you have a ton of broccoli stalks, then give it a go. This is not a precise recipe and every time you make it, it’s going to be a little different based on what scraps you’ve accumulated.

Saving Your Scraps

As you’re cooking meals, wash your vegetables well, set aside your clean scraps, chop them up into small pieces and store them in a clean container (I usually store mine in a zip-lock bag, but a Tupperware would work too). Keep the container of scraps in the freezer and continue adding to it until you have enough volume and enough variety to make some broth.

I recommend chopping the trimmings/scraps up before freezing because I have a bad habit of just putting them directly into the freezer whole, which makes things a little challenging when I try to chop them up later while they’re frozen (I usually have to let the larger chunks thaw for a while first).

The purpose of chopping up the veggie scraps into smaller pieces is to increase the surface area to allow for more nutrients to leach from the plant cells into the water.

Cooking methods

You can use your stovetop or a crockpot for making your broth. I tend to do stovetop because it’s easier and quicker for me. Since you, in theory, did all the prep work before this, you should only need to put your scraps/trimmings into your cooking vessel, add water and turn up the heat. If you’re like me and didn’t chop first, do that.

Add water to your vegetable scraps at about a 1.5 to 1 or 2 to 1 ratio, meaning if you have 4 cups of vegetable scraps, add about 6 to 8 cups of water.

Bring your mixture to a boil, then turn down to simmer with the lid off. The longer you simmer, the more bitter your broth can become, so if you’re cooking on a stove top, usually about an hour is long enough. You want to leave the lid off to allow some of the water to evaporate, making your broth more concentrated.

If you’re making the broth in a crockpot, you can leave the broth covered on low to high for anywhere from 4 to 10 hours, depending on your crockpot’s settings.

The video below gives a quick overview of how to make the above recipe (Turn on closed captions for directions).

One other thing I want to mention is salt. I don’t typically add salt to my broth or stock, but if I do, I don’t add much. I tend to leave the salting until I make my final meal so I don’t over-salt. For example, I used some broth recently to make bean soup and there was plenty of salt from the ham I included to perfectly salt the soup. If I had salted my broth, it would have been extra salty, which I personally don’t prefer. It’s up to you, your taste preferences, and your health needs if you want to add salt or not.

Storing your broth

After cooking, remove it from the heat and let it sit for a while or strain the broth into temperature-safe containers for storing. Think about what sorts of dishes you might want to use this for, since that may help you decide how best to store it. For example, if you want to use if for a large batch of soup, maybe a large plastic container would be appropriate. If you want to use it this week, maybe a mason jar in the fridge. If you want to add it to small, individual meals over the next month, maybe freeze some in ice cube trays then transfer the cubes into a container so you can pull out a small amount at a time.

Depending on the scraps you used, you could use a high-powered blender to blend up the used scraps and use this as a soup-base thickener. You could also compost them, or if you have no other options, throw them out. 🙁

That’s it!

It’s as simple as that! Broth is a really flavorful and nutritious addition for lots of dishes so I highly recommend giving it a try, even if you start by just buying a carton and adding it to meals.

Was this a new skill for you? Did you try it? Leave a comment below about why you decided to try making your own broth and how it went. What meals did you use it in?

Once again, you can download the recipe here: Vegetable_Broth_Recipe.pdf and remember it’s a guide, not a set of rules – make it your own! 🙂

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