Food

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Cut up vegetables with scraps

I cut up all these vegetables to prep meals for the week – onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, carrots, zucchini & 2 types of squash plus some cilantro ends from the salsa I made. Normally I would throw all of this into the compost pile, but not today – not yet.  Today I am throwing all of these “scraps” into a post of {filtered} water first to make homemade vegetable broth.  THEN they’ll go into to compost pile.

I rarely buy chicken, beef, or vegetable broth anymore, and by rarely I mean only around the holidays when chicken broth is on sale & I can’t possibly have enough on hand.  And I never EVER buy bullion cubes at all.  Why?  Just take a look at these nutrition facts from a large popular brand of vegetable bullion cubes:

 

Vegetable bullion

 

The biggest thing that jumps out immediately is that the very 1st ingredient is SALT! And look at the % daily value of salt!  There’s really no need for that OR the palm oil. Palm oil is not bad for you nutritionally, it’s just not a sustainable resource.  But “modified palm oil” is slightly suspicious.  Pretty much everything on this ingredient list is completely unnecessary except for the vegetables.  But even those are dehydrated.

No thanks.

Even my preferred brand of broth has it’s share of problems.  Still there’s all that salt.  And other ingredients that I wonder why they are there – flour, sugar, yeast. Why??

 

 

 

 

There’s no unsalted version of the vegetable broth, but there is an organic version.  It still has 22% DV of sodium.  Best to stick to the unsalted versions of the brand’s chicken & beef broths.  At least with those there’s no added salt, so whatever sodium content is there is coming from the ingredients naturally.

Neither of these options appeal to me, especially when serving friends & family who may have problems with blood pressure.  It may be quick to just open a can or carton, but it’s just as easy to whip up your own homemade vegetable broth.  Here’s 2 ways I do it.

 

First the method I used for this post:

Option 1 – Homemade Vegetable Broth From Scraps

Save the tips, ends, peels, and other scraps for vegetables you are using in your recipes.  If you don’t have a lot at 1 time, you can save them up from multiple cooking sessions.  Put the scraps in a zippered freezer bag & store in the freezer, adding to it every time you have more scraps.  No need to thaw before using.

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Option 2 – Standard Homemade Vegetable Broth

The only difference between option 1 & option 2 is that in this option, you cut up veggies specifically for making the broth, as opposed to using scraps. Honestly I only use this method when I need to use up some veggies before they go bad. You can literally use any vegetables you want, but I typically use whatever I would normally have on hand.

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage (Does cabbage go bad?  I have never seen that happen.)
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes

 

The Process

**Everything from here on out is exactly the same whichever option you are using.**

Put all the vegetables and/or scraps in a large pot, cover with filtered or previously boiled water and bring it to a boil.  Lower the heat and let it simmer for at least 2 hours or more.  The longer it simmers, the deeper, richer & more concentrated the flavor.

You can break up the time like I did for this session.  I started it in the evening while dinner was cooking & it simmered for about 2 hours.  When we put up the leftovers, we put the vegetable broth in the fridge too.  I took it out the next morning, added more {filtered or previously boiled} water and let it simmer pretty much all day.

If you have a crock-pot that would work great because you could skip the fridge & just let it simmer overnight.  Even with the crock-pot turned off, I think it would be fine without refrigeration.

When it’s done simmering, let it cool then strain the broth into a large bowl. No special equipment is needed; you just need a strainer that will not let any bits of food through.  I use a standard metal mesh colander & strain into a measuring bowl or large measuring cup because that makes it easier to divide for storage.

Speaking of storage… the options are endless.  You can:

  1. pour the broth into ice cube trays, freeze, then pop the cubes into freezer bags.  Use however many you need at a time, and pop the rest back into the freezer.
    • each tray makes about 2 cups of broth (16oz) – most cans are 14.5 oz
    • 7 cubes = 1 cup of broth
  2. pour the {pre-measured} broth into containers and store in the freezer.  I would suggest using wide flat containers (vs. tall) so they take up less space.
  3. pour the {pre-measured} broth into very sturdy, super high quality food storage bags and pop them into the freezer.  You will need help with this method to hold the bags in place while you pour.
    • No help?  No problem.  Put the baggie in a bowl or other container with high sides to hold it while you pour in the broth.
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Now you have all natural homemade vegetable broth at your disposal whenever you need it.  No cans, cartons, cubes.  And nothing added that you don’t want or need.

After making this batch, I ended up with about a cup left – not enough to freeze but just enough to make Vegetarian French Onion Soup for lunch.  Mmmmm.

A few things you may have noticed:

  1. There is no salt or pepper mentioned.  You could add any spices you like (even fresh hot peppers), just remember that if you flavor your broth any dish you make with it will have that flavor as well. I don’t add any spices because I like to add them for each individual dish.
  2. Another reason for not using spices is because I compost & I still want to be able to compost the veggies after the broth is done.  If there’s salt, pepper, or anything else in there, it can’t go in the compost.
  3. I keep mentioning using “filtered or previously boiled water”.  That’s because you want your broth to be as wholesome & fresh as possible.  In the Houston area, we have hard water with lots of trace minerals so I don’t usually use that to cook.  But it’s okay if I boil it first.
  4. Do NOT add oil or butter unless you are planning to use the broth right away.  It will not freeze well, it will be more like slush.  Think about what happens when you make gravy or soups with oil or butter; the fat forms a layer on top as it cools.  Same goes here.

This method can be used to make practically any kind of broth – chicken, beef, bone, fish or seafood stock – the options are endless.  Once you get used to it, you’ll never rarely go back.  Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll like it better than the store bought options.

Enjoy!

\ní-ˈkō-lä\
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I love food & wine, paint & power tools. I am a creative introvert, programmer turned decorator, wife and mom, & mental health advocate. I am the decorator owner of Xtraordinary by Design. My mission - rid the world of builder beige & furniture sets.

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