I’m a stickler for not wasting food. Our family goal is to waste no more than 3% of all the food that comes into our home. So, I make an effort to research how to use every bit of edible material. It turns out that making homemade vegetable stock is not only easy, nutritious, and delicious, it also utilizes much of the plant that you may be tempted to just throw into the garbage.
Now for some even better news! It contains no added sodium or preservatives and, literally, costs you pennies to make!
If you have a pressure cooker, prep time is just minutes. Today, I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step and throw in lots of photos. Ready? Let’s go!
Step 1: Save vegetable scraps in your freezer
There aren’t a whole lot of rules when it comes to homemade vegetable broth.
- You can use nearly any part of the plant.
- Tomatoes, especially if not deseeded, can make broth bitter.
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes will make your finished product cloudy.
- Some people avoid items with really strong flavors like beets, broccoli, and cabbage.
- Since my goal is to strictly avoid waste, I pretty much use everything I have saved in the freezer bags and throw it all in the pot.
- As a result, my broth is slightly different every single time.
While cooking, I just make sure that the items I plan to freeze for broth are washed before they are placed in the freezer bag. When I have two, one-gallon bags full of vegetable scraps, it’s time to make broth.
Here’s a look at what I had on hand for this week’s batch.
Step 2: Place scraps in a large pot or pressure cooker
If you’ve never made veggie broth before, you will not believe how seriously easy it is! I dump the contents of the freezer bags into my pressure cooker. Alternately, you can use a large pot. Then, cover with water until all the scraps are submerged in water.
Look at your stock. If you don’t have too many onion scraps, it’s always a great idea to add a roughly chopped onion or two and a few cloves of garlic.
This is the time to also add any herbs you’d like. Consider, throwing in a half of a lemon or some lime. As a rule, I don’t add too many herbs. If you do add them, be sure that they are not too powerful. For instance, rosemary is just too overpowering for use in broth. I don’t salt my broth. Although, fresh cracked black pepper is always a good idea. If you start with a neutral flavor, it’s easy to change the profile by adding herbs and spices while cooking.
Step 3: Pressure cook for 17 minutes
Although the time needed to cook may vary, in general 17 minutes is plenty of time to pressure cook and obtain a rich, full broth. Before I purchased a pressure cooker, I used the stovetop. The method is identical. Just throw in the scraps, cover with water, and add the seasonings. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Then simmer for 45 minutes. That’s it!
Step 4: Strain
Strain the finished broth, pushing on the vegetable mixture with the back of a spoon to release as much liquid as possible. The vegetable scraps will have released all of their nutrients into the broth and you can now throw them out or compost them with a completely clear conscience. You have truly used them to the fullest measure and have not wasted a thing. You’ve also created a wonderful tasting addition to future soups, stews, and other recipes. Congratulations!
Step 5: Store or Use
You can store your broth in the refrigerator for up to a week or move it to the freezer for up to six months.
If freezing, wait until it has fully cooled and measure into hard-sided freezer containers or freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible. Seal and label with the date and how many cups of liquid are inside. If you place the bags on a hard, flat surface (like a cookie sheet) they will freeze flat. After they are completely frozen, remove them from the cookie sheet and stack them in your freezer.