Making your own vegetable stock is so easy I feel ashamed every time I reach for that stock cube in my pantry. Now that our CSA is pumping out a huge assortment of local, organic vegetables every single week, I’ve gotten into the stock-making groove and try to make a batch every week or two.
The process starts when I drag my CSA haul into the house. Almost every vegetable gets rinsed before going into the fridge and the reason for this is two-fold. First, I like to separate each vegetable from each other so I can get a sense of what vegetables I’ve got that week to make planning ahead easier. The other thing is that I know that most of the dirt and bugs are off my produce so that when I actually use those vegetables and add the scraps into the freezer, I know they’re clean and my stock won’t taste like dirt. Dirty stock isn’t good.
I keep my vegetable scraps in the freezer rather than my fridge. The freezer allows me to make the stock on my own time rather than being forced to because the bucket of scraps have a very limited lifespan. Fennel fronds, onion skins, carrot nubs, celery leaves, and whatever vegetable scrap that isn’t mildewy, rotten or badly blemished goes into a bucket in my freezer. When the bucket is full, it’s stock time! And it’s ridiculously easy to do. Cover your scraps with water, add some herbs, simmer and strain. That’s it. Really.
What your stock looks and tastes like will depend very much on what you’ve been adding to your bucket. This batch had a LOT of fennel which is a good thing in terms of taste. There was also a lot of kale and chard stems, green onions, broccoli stalks and cabbage leaves which helped to make this stock quite dark. If you’re particular and are looking for a lighter coloured stock to use in clear soups, use carrots, yellow onions without the skins, celery, parsnips and other light vegetables.
Strong flavours can dominate the broth and if you’re not sure how you’ll be using the stock, you may choose to leave out the salt and chilies.
homemade vegetable stock
organic vegetable scraps
2 bay leaves
1 T dried thyme
4 dried chilis
1 T kosher salt
Add all your vegetable scraps collected during the past week or two into a large pot, along with the bay leaves, herbs, chilis and salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour. Strain using a cheesecloth or dish towel into a clean glass jar. If you plan on freezing, leave a 2 inch headroom at the top of the jar. Freeze or use as needed.
I really like your idea of keeping a scrap bucket in the freezer – I always feel pressured to make stock on the weekend…and it’s usually the last thing I want to be doing!
You can also make stock in your Crock Pot. Load your scraps and water then let it go overnight. Because you cover the Crock Pot there is less evaporation.
I also keep freezer bags for broth, but in addition to vegetable scraps, I add chicken bones from roasted/grilled chickens or scraps of fat, meat, and bones off of lamb steaks and pork roasts. If I’m lucky and have a lot of good bones, I’ll get a really gelatinous batch. I put everything in my crockpot with a bit of vinegar (supposedly it breaks down the bones a bit to get more of the gelatin from them), water, bay leaf, peppercorns, and garlic, and let it cook on low for 12-18 hours. It’s very no-fuss and makes a flavorful stock. It also saves us so much money on broth or stock!
The last time I tried this, I ended up with a fairly bitter vegetable stock. I wasn’t able to determine which ingredient made the stock bitter, but it was a fairly diverse mix of the kind of things one uses (onion skins, stalks from dark leafy greens, etc. Any thoughts? Can you describe the taste of a well-made vegetable stock?
This looks really good.
When it comes to stock, I use the bouillon cubes but I often wish I were more frugal in the kitchen. Out of convenience, I toss end cuts and wilted/over ripe fruit and veggies in the compost bin. I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to save food items that can be re-used for stock, soup or smoothies. This is a great post that I’m sure will come in handy.
Thank you so much for this! I am lucky enough to have a very large stand-up freezer in my basement that I love filling with staples. Can’t wait to try this!
Ooo I’m so going to start making a scrap bag from now on!
One man’s refuse is another man’s liquid gold.
We do the same thing, turning our scraps into stock, although your CSA bits are much more conducive to stock than what we’ve been receiving. Any chance you know if leftover corn cobs can be used in stock? That’s the question of the week ’round these parts.
Can this be canned in a water bath for 10 or 15 min? I do a chicken broth from the bones and put in a few veggie scraps and have always had good luck canning it.
I totally save all my veggie scraps in the freezer! But I have never put broccoli and kale trimmings in, I always thought it might make the stock weird tasting for some reason. I trust your recipes though, so I’m going to start saving those too. Yay, less food waste!
Lana, the freezer is the way to go. No pressure!
Liz, I have no crockpot, but thanks for the tip!
Maegan, I’ve never heard the vinegar tip. I also keep a separate bag for chicken bones in my freezer too for stock.
Robert, it’s true that your stock can be bitter depending on what you use. I don’t mind using funkier veg because often I’m using just a bit of stock at a time or I’m using it for soup where there’s already a lot of strong flavours. If you like something a bit milder than the trifecta of carrots/onions/celery is a good base.
Yes, Bijoux, just try a bucket in the freezer and see what you come up with!
You’re so lucky, Gretchen to have a freezer and a stand-up one at that. Nice.
Joanne, I’m pro scrap bucket 🙂
Molly I’ve never tried corn cobs but I’m sure it would add some sweetness! Give it a try! I think it would be great.
Carol, I’ve never canned a thing in my life, but if you’ve already gotten good results with chicken stock, I’m sure this would be fine too. Though I’d be wary as a noob canner about canning anything that wasn’t acidic or full of sugar!
Jacqui, try it. Maybe you’ll like it or not! I’m totally fine with it – it tastes great in broccoli soup 🙂
Thanks so much for this! I’ve already made two batches and love it. It’s a great way to use excess veggie scraps and have my own broth now that soup-season is upon us.
A quick question – how long do you think the broth lasts in the fridge? I have two jars I want to use, but they’ve been in there about a week. Should they be OK?
HK, glad you enjoy making the stock. As for keeping it, I usually freeze it in a few small jars so I can use it when I need to. Not sure if it’s still good or not to use. If it smells good, I’d try it out and then freeze the rest immediately. Though, I’m always a bit nervous of something after a few days in the fridge unless it’s heavily sugared or pickled.
Thanks the tips! I did a little research online and most places say that homemade broth should be OK for a week maximum in the fridge. The broth I had smelled and looked fine and I went ahead and used it and I’m still alive (yay!)
Thanks again 🙂