Free Zero-Waste Vegetable Broth from Scraps

I love to make soups, but 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 may contain BPA (or another bisphenol). 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 a bone broth recipe.

Homemade 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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  • Vegetable scraps
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)


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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 half an hour. You can add salt now but I prefer to make this unsalted and add the salt later to whatever I decide to cook.

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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.

Learn more here.

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61 Replies to “Free Zero-Waste Vegetable Broth from Scraps”

  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.

    1. I’ve been doing it and it is delicious! How long do you believe the scraps will last in the refrigerator? We live in a boat and the freezer is very (very very :-)) small. Thanks for being so inspiring! X

  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 🙂

      1. Katharine Sorensen says:

        Fabulous! I’ve been doing this on a modest scale for several years with anything my hens can’t eat. Having noted your points re the potentially harmful health aspects of commercial broth/stock I’ll now ramp up my production efforts, and I’ve shared this post with my 3 sons in their 20s to adopt the habit early in life!

      2. Hi Katharine,
        I hope your hens aren’t upset 🙂 Do you think they will eat the spent vegetables after you’ve made the broth? People often ask me what to do with those scraps. Thank you for sharing the recipe! I wish I had started making this in my 20s. It’s such a simple thing and reaps so many benefits.
        ~ Anne-Marie

  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.  […]

    1. I recently made vegetable broth from vegetable ends accumulated and stored in the freezer. However the flavor was very metallic. So much so that I was not able to use the broth and had to throw it away. Any idea as to why that happened?

      1. Sandra Johnson says:

        Did you use an aluminum pan? Not good for acid foods like tomatoes.

  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:

      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.

    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. Hi, Anne-Marie, I have tried twice to use veggie scraps for making veggie broth, but both times they came up bitter. I was wanting to know if you had ever run into this. I am not sure what is making mine bitter, but it is gross. I have onion and garlic skins, leftover potato peels, carrots, maybe some chard (?), some asparagus spears… Has this happened to you before? What should I be avoiding? Thank you!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Catherine, Yes that has happened to me. I recently made a batch and threw in a bunch of onion skins and the broth was horrible. So I avoid those. I would also avoid chard or anything bitter like it (so no beet stems). ~ Anne Marie

      1. I made a veggie scrap broth but found I forgot to pull one of my produce stickers off 🤦‍♀️. Safe to assume I should probably just throw this batch out right?

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

  19. […] 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 […]

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

  21. […] Sounds like an awesome idea, but how can someone start getting involved? The answer comes in a simple form: vegetable stock. […]

  22. I live in an apartment and vermicompost. I was wondering if the vege scraps could be given to my worms after I made the broth. I don’t give them anything that has been cooked with oils or ghee, but that wouldn’t be the case with this, and I wouldn’t add salt until later.

  23. […] your own vegetable broth from food scraps is a great way to save money and reduce food waste at the same […]

  24. […] your own vegetable broth from food scraps is a great way to save money and reduce food waste at the same […]

  25. […] Find a healthy and easy vegetable broth recipe here  […]

  26. […] veggie scraps to make broth. Here’s a recipe from Zero-Waste Chef that I […]

  27. […] Like many of you, I love my vegetables. One of my favorite foods are beets- I’ve written many recipes, and even a roundup post filled with beet creations. But it makes me sort of sad every time I go into a supermarket and see beets (or beetroots), round and unattached spheres, sitting forlornly in a plastic bin. Because the beet is more than just the beetroot- it is also the tender and delicious beet greens, and the fibrous, flavorsome stalks. And while I’ve used the example of beets, the amount of edible food that doesn’t make it to our plates is sad. Not only are we wasting calories, but valuable micronutrients, and new and exciting flavors. In order to eat sustainably, we need to take a zero-waste approach to the food we consume, and make sure we are getting the most out of our vegetables. So next time you find yourself about to throw away vegetable scraps, check this list or do a little research. You might end up with a new favorite food. Read further and we’ll give you all the inspiration you need with 24 recipes using unused vegetable parts. If you don’t have time to come up with anything, most veggie scraps can always be used for a vegetable broth! […]

  28. […] have been conditioned to throw away the ends and peels of produce. The solution? Use them to make veggie broth. Put veggie food scraps in your crockpot with water, salt and pepper, and herbs to make stock. When […]

  29. What do you use the broth for?

  30. Hello! Could you list the no-go scraps that make for a bad broth?

  31. Thank you very much for the idea! At first I was very sceptical about that because I don’t really need that stuff. But then I decided to give it a try and then I cooked soup using the broth. It tasted much better than usual. So now I’m a fan and collect and freeze scraps.

  32. […] Broth from Scraps: this sounds a bit weird but it’s actually very good! Freeze your scraps (carrot and other root […]

  33. I read that you shouldn’t use cruciferous vegetables when making bone broth. I read a lot of blogs, so I can’t tell you where I saw that. But I see that you use both broccoli and cauliflower. What are your thoughts on this?

  34. Been doing this for a while, I always end up with waaay more broth than I can use so I can it using a pressure canner and shelve it. I use it in place of water to cook rice or bulger or couscous I give it away to my coworkers as long as they promise to bring my jars back lol.

  35. […] stock from vegetable scraps: make super healthy vegetable stock – without store bought nasties – from leftover vegetable scraps and peelings you would […]

  36. […] I was going to compost anyways. The ZeroWaste Chef has a great article on how to make your own vegetable scrap stock along with hundreds of other ways to create less waste in the […]

  37. […] your own vegetable broth from food scraps is a great way to save money and reduce food waste at the same […]

  38. […] Zero-Waste Chef also has a great recipe for zero-waste vegetable stock, that is well worth checking […]

  39. […] OF VEGETABLES(which are most often quite edible), e.g. carrot-top pesto, sauteed beetroot leaves, vegetable broth, roasted potato peels, broccoli stem stir fry, tomato carpaccio […]

  40. Can’t wait to try this, have got my scraps collecting in the freezer. How long does the broth last for ? Do I store it in the fridge?

  41. I hope you are not sick of reading this because I’m here to offer my confirmation: this broth is indeed easy to make and absolutely makes a difference when you use it to make soup or risotto (as I just did). Thank you for your directions and all the information you share with us.

    1. Not at all! Thank you very much for the testimonial and kind words 🙂

  42. […] The simplest solution to those odds and ends is to throw them into a pot and make broth. Things that would be great for this include celery tops, cauliflower cores, onion cores and ends, dried up garlic cloves, and so on. If you do not have enough scraps right away, you can start a collection in the freezer until you have enough. Throw the vegetable scraps into a pot and cover with water. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, then strain into glass jars. If you would like, you can add salt while simmering to provide extra flavor. The scraps can then be composted. A secondary bonus of making your own broth is that you avoid the single use containers found in the stores and reduce the amount of sodium in your broth! For a great broth recipe, as well as guidance on other zero waste topics, click here. […]

  43. When trimming vegetables, how to determine what to use or toss? Sometimes older carrot tops are dark brown and slimy but the carrots seem okay. I scrub with a brush with water. Would you toss the carrot tops or save for soup? For asparagus, the cut end is sometimes reddish before trimming. Should that be saved or tossed? What about lettuce that has a reddish stem or is wilted? Wilty spring mix lettuces?

    Basically, I’m trying to find out what parts should be tossed or trimmed. If I see mold, it just gets trashed.

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