Veggie broth is one of those thing that you use a lot of, and the more you use it, the more uses you find for it! Veggie broth is very nutritious and versatile–it can be used to pan fry meats and veggies, to make marinades, in soups and stews, and to flavor rice and other grains. The problem with store-bought broth is it’s full of salt and preservatives, and is cost prohibitive, which makes many cooks shy away from it. Homemade veggie broth tastes better, has no salt, no preservatives and best of all–it’s free!
Making veggie broth is so easy–you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before! All you need to do is stop throwing away veggie scraps and start a broth “collection”. Your collection will be all the bits and pieces you don’t want to use when you are chopping up veggies for a recipe. My broth collection usually has a lot of broccoli stalks and ginger root skins in it. I’ll also throw in onion peels, just-the-wrong-side-of-fresh salad greens (don’t use anything that is rotting, slimy or that has truly gone bad, but wilted and bruised is fine), bruised bits of potatoes, squash skins, the stalks of herbs I cut from the garden, zucchini ends, pepper tops, really anything. I have learned that, for my family, mushrooms in the collection make a terrible smelling broth that no one will eat (even though we love mushrooms), but you may have different results. Store your collection in 1-gallon Ziploc bags in the freezer, filling them as you go. Once you have two full bags of veggie scraps, you will be ready to make broth!
To make the broth, get out your big soup pot (you know the one!) and dump in your two collection bags. Add one gallon (16 cups) of water and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool.
So…. That was the hard part! If you can boil water, you can make broth-easy, right?
Now all you have to do is separate out all the veggie bits. I use a large pasta strainer and my bread mixing bowl to strain out all the larger veggie bits, then strain it all again into another bowl with my jelly strainer. Now all the veggie bits can be disposed of–this is an excellent addition to any compost bin!
I bought myself a bunch of 2-cup, stack-able Rubbermaid containers for just this purpose. Most of my recipes call for either 2 or 4 cups of broth, so I just measure out 2-cup at a time and freeze them into giant veggie broth ice cubes. The broth freezes very well–I’ve used it as long as 8 months after I froze it with no reduction in quality or flavor! To use the frozen broth cubes, I usually just dump the cube directly into the pot or pan I’m cooking with and thaw it out on the spot, but occasionally I remember to transfer what I need the night before to thaw it in the fridge.
The larger container is what I will use within the next week or so. I’ve planned a few soups which are heavy on broth, so I don’t need to freeze that portion, just refrigerate. This recipe will give you one gallon (16 cups) of homemade veggie broth. Be sure to label the freezer containers with the date and contents! Happy cooking!