How to Make Vegetable Broth with Scraps without a Recipe
This blog isn’t merely a recipe website. Yet, this is a recipe post. Think of it as a recipe that isn’t a recipe – a guideline to a process that works for your kitchen and how you cook and create. With this “recipe” you will learn how to make vegetable broth with scraps collected from the meals you prepare at home.
I learned how to cook without a recipe by making soup. One of the first things I tackled was making vegetable broth with odds and ends that I saved, as part of my choice to reduce food waste. If you have read about how to reduce food waste, you will see I recommend saving onion and carrot ends and peels, corn cobs, tough leek leaves, and broccoli and cauliflower stems, etc.
Not only will you save money by using every part of the vegetable you buy, you will also stretch your dollar by using the “waste” to make new meals. Why buy vegetable broth in cubes or packs if you can make it with what you already have?
Which scraps can I save?
You can save just about any scraps – including tough broccoli and cauliflower stems. For the best vegetable broth, gather any combination of these ingredients:
- Onion peels and ends
- Carrot peels and stubs
- Garlic peels
- Corn cobs
- Tough green leek leaves
- Green onion stems
- Celery ends and leaves
- Parmesan rinds
- Broccoli and cauliflower stems
- Bell pepper cores (without the white pith)
- Mushroom stems (if you don’t use them in your cooking)
- Woody asparagus stems
How to Make Vegetable Broth with Scraps
- Save, save, save!
I currently use large freezer bags to collect scraps and store them in the freezer. I pack the bags with scraps until they are bulging and can barely close before making vegetable broth. You may find yourself making vegetable broth with scraps more often if you have a bigger family but, as a family of two, I make vegetable broth with scraps every couple of months.
- Think about the ratio
Though you can and should gather any combination of the scraps above, you want to err on the milder side of vegetables to make up your vegetable broth. Milder, sweeter vegetables include onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and corn cobs. Use smaller amounts of broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus stems. If you use too many of the bitter vegetables, you will end up with a bitter broth that won’t taste good.
- Wash your scraps
Either before or after collecting odds and ends to make vegetable broth with scraps, wash them. If you don’t, you will end up with a grainy broth that tastes like dirt.
- Sautee or don’t
Some recommend sauteeing the vegetables in a rich oil like olive oil before adding water and simmering. I don’t usually bother but if you are so inclined, and feel like spending more time, go for it.
- Bring it to a boil then simmer
You will need to fill up the biggest pot you have with the scraps and water. My biggest pot is 4L, which is roughly 16 cups. Some days I squish the entire bag of scraps into the pot and fill with water for a super intense broth. Other days, I use half the bag and fill with water for a more mild broth. It is important that you bring the scraps up to a boil before bringing to a light simmer for at least an hour. If you have more bitter vegetables in there, do not simmer for more than an hour. If you have mild, savory vegetables, simmer for up to 4 hours.
- Strain and let cool
After allowing the vegetable broth to bubble away and cook on its own, strain the scraps out, reserving the liquid. Either discard the scraps, compost them, or donate them to a composting service afterward. I don’t have the ability to compost at the moment in my little kitchen, so I discard the scraps knowing I got one more use out of good vegetables. After the vegetable broth has cooled completely, either store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few months. If you think about it, label your container in the freezer. Frozen blocks of different broths, soups, and chilis start to look alike after a while.
Once your vegetable broth is ready, either use it right away or freeze it for later. You can use the broth for soup, cook rice or risotto, or add a bit more flavour to stew, cooked meat, or pasta dishes. If you want to make a rich vegetable soup, add potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and whatever else is in your fridge or pantry. The possibilities are endless!
I want to see what you are making! Tag me @finnyfromscratch on Instagram so I can see your lovely vegetable broth from scraps or drop a photo in the comments!