I’ve never given vegetable broth more thought than writing it down on my grocery list. Apparently, I have been missing out on a whole world of great veggie broth flavor. Was the fact that you actually get a different flavor from different brands of broths lost only on me? I thought they were all pretty much the same. Well, I’m in the loop now, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I won’t have to spend the time reading labels making sure to buy a healthy broth that meets our taste bud needs. From now on, we will be making homemade vegetable broth ourselves.
Since you can use leftover pieces of an array of veggies to make delicious vegetable broth, making it is the ultimate way to get the most out of the produce you bring home and grow in the garden. The ends of vegetables that are often discarded and added to compost have even more to give in the kitchen.
When it comes to making homemade vegetable broth, we don’t really follow a consistent recipe because we utilize whatever is leftover. There are a few vegetables that are always included and others that never make the cut.
How to make homemade vegetable broth
If you can wait for the broth, I wouldn’t even bother buying vegetables solely for broth use. Just hoard, er I mean freeze, what you gradually accumulate. The first step to take when making your own vegetable broth is to wash and save the ends and discarded scraps of veggies.
Now when I am cutting vegetables or making a salad, I save all the ends and undesirable pieces in a gallon size freezer safe bag. I like to knock out a little veggie broth prep by chopping the scraps into smaller pieces before I freeze them. This saves me from having to thaw out scraps just to cut them up before starting the broth. You will be finding a bag full of veggie scraps in the Ball house for the foreseeable future. It’s just too simple not to take advantage of. Plus, I love squeezing all I can out of what the earth gives me.
Veggies to use
We tend to go heavy on the onion family and sweeter veggies like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers when we make our broth. You can use a wider array of vegetables beyond what we are suggesting, but this is just a little list of some good candidates for homemade broth:
- Onions/Garlic (ends and skins too)
- Lettuce (ends)
- Pea Pods
- Leeks (ends and leaves)
- Leftover herbs
Veggies to avoid
Some vegetables just don’t play well with others and should not be thrown in the broth. These and any other strong flavored produce that might dominate the broth in a fierce and bitter way should be left out of this party.
- Cabbage family: Kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, radishes
- Potato (or potato skins)
- Carrot tops
- Sweet potato
Our base recipe
In a way, making your own broth is like making a soup. The flavor is controlled by the seasoning, the variety of vegetables, and the amount of onions added to the mix. And while you craft your own flavor each time you make the broth, there is a base we follow to start off on a good foot:
3 Celery sticks diced
3 Carrot sticks diced
3 Garlic cloves halved
½ cup diced Mushrooms
1 medium onion sliced
When you are ready to get your broth on the stove, heat up a little olive oil in a large stew pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook them until they begin to soften and slightly brown (salt can be added here if desired). Then add the garlic, herbs, and mushrooms. Let them sweat a little before tossing in veggie scraps stored in the freezer. This helps to release stronger flavors into the broth. Another way to achieve a strong broth would be to use a slow cooker and allow the broth to simmer for several hours.
With all the garden goodies in the pot, add just enough water to cover all of the vegetables. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat to low. Leave the vegetable broth to simmer for an hour stirring occasionally. Keep in mind that the longer it simmers, the stronger the flavors will be.
Once the hour has passed, turn off the heat and let it cool. After it cools down, it can be safely strained. We strained our broth into a bowl and then funnel it into jars to use later. It can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or kept for about a month in the freezer.
The vegetables from the broth are then composted and the cycle starts all over again. I know it’s dorky, but I love the complete circle of energy in the garden. Grow it, eat it/use it, break it down, and then use that to feed your garden… where the cycle starts over again. It’s like the sweet potato slips Ryan started– the potato grows, we harvest, create slips, plant, and back to growing. It’s these little tastes of self sufficiency that are the sweetest.