This post will teach you how to use up food scraps generated through everyday cooking in your kitchen to make delicious vegetable stock that can be used in so many ways. Stock is a base for all kinds of dishes - from soups and stews to risotto and casseroles. You can also substitute broth for water when cooking grains, like barley, or pasta to infuse the dish with extra flavor.
Why Make Vegetable Stock From Scraps
I started making my own stock to reduce food waste in my kitchen and use up veggie and fruit scraps, but there are so many benefits including:
Saving money - A good vegetable broth can cost upwards of $3.00. Making your own can help reduce grocery expenses, especially since broth is mostly water!
Reducing waste - In addition to reducing food waste, making your own broth means you don’t have packaging to deal with and helps keep excess cartons out of landfills.
It’s healthier - Homemade stock is better for you because you have full control over the quality of vegetables you use and the amount of salt you add. A lot of store-bought broths are made from vegetable concentrates and can contain preservatives.
How to Save Scraps
Saving scraps while you cook is an easy practice to add into your kitchen routine. Whenever I’m preparing a dish, I keep an empty container near my cutting board. As I generate scraps, I put them in my container right then and there. Once I’m done cooking, I transfer the scraps into a Gallon Ziplock bag I keep in the freezer. When that bag is full, I know it’s time to make stock! You can also blend/process scraps prior to freezing to save space.
What Veggies to Use for Vegetable Scrap Broth
Only use vegetables with a flavor profile you want expressed in your broth, like onion skins, carrot peels, garlic nubs, and celery tops. You can also add sweet potato ends, parsnips, leek greens, mushroom stems, fennel tops, summer squash tops, apple cores (the added sweetness is nice!), and herb stems.
The only scraps you want to avoid are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale stems as they can give your broth a sulfuric taste. These types of vegetable scraps are great for a Veggie Frittata.
What Else Can Be Added To Broth?
At a minimum I recommend adding salt, which helps to draw flavor out of the vegetable scraps. However, if you are sensitive to sodium, it can be omitted.
You can also add other ingredients like aromatics (whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme sprigs) to incorporate more flavor into your broth.
Adding a dash of white or apple cider vinegar before cooking your broth will extract more of the mineral content of the vegetables and make it more nutritious.
My secret weapon when it comes to homemade broth is adding parmesan cheese rinds. Since the rind isn’t good to eat, throw it in your broth for an incredible umami flavor instead of throwing it in the trash.
Broth has a very simple flavor and is a great medium to experiment with flavors and learn how different ingredients taste, so I recommend having fun with it and trying new things!
Steps to Make Vegetable Scrap Broth
For each quart of vegetable scraps, use 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. You can scale these ratios based on how many scraps you have collected and your own preferences.
Combine the scraps (frozen is fine), water, and salt in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 10-30 minutes.
Strain into another pot or a large bowl and discard the vegetables. Divide the broth among lidded containers and cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, store in the fridge and use within one week, or freeze for up to 3-6 months.