Zero-Waste Vegetable Broth

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I love to make soups, but I hate to buy broth for several reasons:

  • If you read the label of virtually any commercial broth on the shelf at the grocery store, you’ll probably find loads of salt and—depending on the brand—crud.
  • Canned broth can expose you to the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA. Food and beverage cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA. In adults, BPA has been linked to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.
  • Although Tetra Paks may not contain BPA, they are lined with plastic. I don’t want my food—especially liquids—coming into contact with plastic.
  • Single-use packaging is wasteful.
  • Store-bought broth tastes bad.

So, I make my own broths. This post features vegetable broth. Click here for my bone broth recipe.

My vegetable broth recipe cuts down on waste on two fronts—the packaging and the ingredients. Throughout the weeks, as I prep my vegetables, I throw very little into my compost bucket. Instead, I save celery tops, carrot ends (not the leafy green parts—they may lend a bitter flavor), the ends of onions, cauliflower cores, garlic cloves that have begun to dry out, the ends of green beans, tomato cores, broccoli that has seen better days and so on. I collect these bits in glass jars and containers and freeze them. As I collect more scraps, they go into the jars. Once I have amassed at least a few jars’ worth, I make broth using the following recipe.

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Ingredients

  • Vegetable scraps
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)

Directions

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1. Throw the scraps into a large pot and add water. I don’t completely cover the scraps with water because after you cook them for a few minutes, they shrink down and become immersed in liquid.

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2. Simmer the scraps for about an hour. Add salt if desired.

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3. Strain the scraps. I set a metal colander inside a metal bowl and dump everything into the colander. Lift out the colander and reserve the scraps for the compost pile.

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4. Pour the broth into jars. I have a handy funnel with a strainer in it but it doesn’t catch the super fine particles. You can also use cheesecloth.

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There you have it. Two jars of tasty, healthier-than-store-bought broth that, aside from my time, cost me nothing to make. I threw nothing into the trash, and even these food scraps didn’t go to waste.

I’ll probably use some of my broth for this Alton Brown baked bean recipe and for creamy vegetable soup.

27 Comment

  1. This didn’t even cross my mind. By the time you collect enough jars, has some of that food begun to spoil? And how long does the broth last? Thank you!

  2. I freeze the scraps so they stay good until I have enough of them to make my broth. Sometimes it takes me a while to horde enough (two or three weeks), and so if I stored them in the fridge, they would definitely go bad. (I also save and freeze chicken bones. When I have enough of those, I make bone broth.)

    I would say the broth stays good for a couple of weeks, but I almost always use it up right away (or at least within a week). Last night, for example, I made Spanish chicken and rice and when I assembled the ingredients, I realized I had no broth! So, I pulled my scraps out of the freezer (luckily I had enough) and made some just in time.

  3. Interesting, I was waiting for a perfect broth recipe and found one 🙂 Thank you 🙂

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for following my blog 🙂

  4. […] the fabulous Zero waste Chef suggested freezing scraps until there’s enough to make her Vegetable Broth recipe. But by far my favourite Twitter response, solely for its comedy value, was this idea for using […]

    1. Your bike ride sounds like an ideal way to celebrate the end of a successful week. We have compost bins where I live, but the person in charge is very strict about what goes in, so I may have to make my own. If you come up with a lazy way, please let me know. Ours are just chicken wire cylinders and I suppose I could do that. I’ve seen pallet “bins” but they are bigger than what I want. Thank you for the mention. I really appreciate it 🙂

  5. […] So, my one thing would be to learn how to make something from scratch that you ordinarily buy premade. Start with something easy, like making vegetable broth from scraps.  […]

  6. […] In other cooking news, I made about 12 cups of veggie broth for zero (additional dollars), thanks to this post at Zero Waste Chef. […]

  7. What kind of metal funnel/strainer do you have? Where can you buy one?

    1. I have this one from Williams Sonoma, Sarah: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/stainless-steel-funnel-strainer/

      I love it. I use it to for bottling my kombucha and kvass and for so many other things.

  8. […] the compost heap. In fact, even my vegetable scraps don’t make it to the heap until after I’ve made broth out of them. Occasionally I find the odd furry lemon or a puddle of what-had-been-parsley in the back of the […]

  9. […] were macerated, blended, chopped; or marinated overnight with wine: who leached their flavours into stock, or roasted crisp around the body of a duck who dreamed of honey-glaze. Chillies, who spilled their […]

  10. […] on this note may I say #PumpkinRescue, that pumpkin bits make a *soup stock that is wonderful in gravies, thickened with butter and flour, and maybe umami‘ed-up with […]

  11. Awesome, definitely going to try this!

    1. It’s SO easy! And basically free!

  12. One could just freeze the broth, right? Maybe in cube trays and then into jars?

    1. Yup! I do that Adi. Sometimes I freeze it in jars but I prefer to freeze it in an ice-cube tray. Once it’s frozen, I transfer the cubes to a glass jar.

  13. Can you use other things? Like carrot and potato skins I peeled?

    1. Sure Kim. I use carrot peels, potato skins, little bits of tomato, garlic that’s too small to bother peeling…all sorts of vegetables. I just avoid anything bitter like chard.

  14. Hello,
    I was thinking about adding egg shells to the broth, what do you think? As a vegetarian, I don’t make bone broth, so I thought that egg shells can enrich my vegetable broth with calcium and other minerals.
    Also, are there any don’ts to put in the broth that can spoil the taste? I made a batch and it is OK, although I would not call it delicious. I plan on adding it only in small amounts to my meals, I would hate the idea of throwing it out, but I am also afraid of spoiling the taste of my food.
    Thanks.
    kika

    1. Hi Kika. I love the egg shell idea and am going to try it. Thank you! I find if I simmer the broth too long, it can start to taste bitter. I usually let it go for about an hour. Also I don’t add bitter scraps like chard. Mine typically contains more carrots, celery, onion and cauliflower than anything else. I recently made some with corn cobs tossed in. That was very tasty. I hope that helps and you like the next batch better. I wouldn’t eat it if it tastes really bad. You could water your plants with it if you don’t want to waste it 🙂

  15. […] and clean the green buds (but keep the external leaves they will be great in your leftover vegetable broth). Cut the bulbs into half, place them onto a baking pan, sprinkle with oil and cover with a baking […]

  16. […] Still working on the compost bin situation.  In the mean time, I am going to start saving veggie scraps by putting them in the freezer and later turn them into veggie broth! […]

  17. […] ez a recept, és először nagyon furán néztem rá, hogy ez aztán már tényleg gáz! Krumplihéjból meg […]

  18. […] to a boil before letting it simmer for an hour. Strain after cooling to make some ready-to use vegetable stock. Great for making gravies and soups, it can be kept refrigerated for three days or frozen for a […]

  19. […] your vegetable scraps in the freezer to make a rich vegetable broth […]

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