I am always on the lookout for ways to save money at the grocery store while also maintaining a healthier diet. Sometimes, that means growing our vegetables. David ordered a bunch of peppers and tomato seeds, both items I use often in cooking. I grow my own organic basil and, since vegetable broth is a frequent staple, I started making homemade vegetable broth.
Why make homemade vegetable broth?
It’s hard to ignore rising grocery prices. Pre-packaged veggie broth costs about $2.00 for 32 oz. That’s 4 cups. I use about 12 cups a week, meaning I was spending $6 dollars a week just on vegetable broth – or about $312 a year. The ingredient list isn’t really horrible on Swanson and other equitable brands, but many of them do contain added sugar. Swanson also contains “natural flavoring”, but doesn’t specify exactly what that is. I like to know what I am consuming.
Through a period of trial and error, I have learned to make homemade vegetable broth. Average cost per 12 cups? Free – unless you count the penny’s worth of salt. I consider it free because I make it with stuff most people throw out. That leaves me $312 a year I can spend on fashion, dates with David, or the electric bill.
What to put in Veggie broth
Well, you can use anything that would normally be thrown out when preparing fresh vegetables. I use onions, onion skins, carrot peels, vegetables that are past their prime (but not spoiled), fresh herbs that are wilting, carrot tops, and stems and leaves from broccoli. Pretty much, anything that you don’t normally eat adds flavor depth.
Each week, I start with a new gallon-sized zipper freezer bag. Before I go grocery shopping, I rummage through the fridge for limp vegetables and wilting greens. I chop them into smaller pieces and toss them into the freezer bag. I store it in the freezer so the vegetables stop aging.
Every night, while cooking, I save the peels, the ends of squash, the yellowing parsley pieces, and the odd ends off vegetables and toss them into the freezer bag. I also chop them into small pieces so the broth gets more flavor.
Things to Save
- Yellow Onion Skins – the brown skins add rich color to the broth.
- Onion pieces
- Celery stems and leaves
- Beet leaves
- Carrot peels, leaves, and ends
- Wilting greens
- Basil, thyme, rosemary and other fresh herbs beyond their prime
- Freezer burned vegetables. Freezer burn isn’t harmful. It damages flavor, but it’s fine for our purposes.
- Stems from leeks and other vegetables
- Mushroom stems and pieces
- Parsley and cilantro
- Bay Leaves
Things to Avoid
- Potatoes. While they are good in stew, potatoes actually absorb the flavor from broth and not add to it.
- Brussels sprouts. These little devils make broth very bitter.
- Beet roots will turn water red, and dye your rice (or whatever you are cooking broth in), red.
- Red Onion Skins – see beet roots.
- Broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables.
- Turnip roots. Greens are ok.
- Rotten food. If it’s moldy, toss it out.
Getting Down to Making Broth
Assemble your equipment
You will need a large pot, a ladle, a gallon-sized zipper freezer bag, and something to freeze your broth in. Some people simply ladle their homemade vegetable broth into quart-sized freezer bags. That works, but I find it’s very messy and the bags sometimes leak. I prefer to use a Wilton Giant Muffin Tin (each muffin tin holds 1 cup of homemade vegetable broth) and Acuisina Silicone Ice Cube Trays (each cube holds 1/2 cup).
I love the Acuisina Silicone Ice Cube Trays. Each cube holds about a 1/2 cup. The trays flexibility allows the frozen broth to slide out easily. These trays are BPA free – which is important because you don’t want your hot broth leaching chemicals. That kinda defeats the whole purpose of making your own all-natural vegetable broth, right?
Since they are dishwasher safe, they are also easy to clean. I have not noticed any warping or staining from working with darker liquids.
You cannot ladle a full 1/2 cup into these and still get them to stack, but it’s only a couple of tablespoons short, and I haven’t noticed any problems with that in the overall scheme of recipe perfection.
OH! You also need your bag of vegetables!
So, you now have a full gallon-sized bag of veggies and you’re ready to proceed to the next stage. If you haven’t already, chop your vegetables. Precision isn’t important, but increased surface area contact means more flavorful broth, so cut them into smallish pieces.
Bring a large stock pot with about 14 cups of water and about 1/4 cup salt (more or less to taste) to a boil. Add your veggies and let it boil for about 30-45 minutes. Stir, occasionally.
Remove it from the heat, carefully drain it into a bowl, and allow it to cool. If you are using zipper bags to freeze your broth, allow it to cool enough that it won’t melt the plastic, or burn you if/when it spills. *speaking from experience here*
You may have small particles of veggies floating in the broth. This isn’t a problem and won’t impact the flavor of your broth. If you want it perfectly strained, run it through a cheesecloth after it cools.
Ladle into a measuring cup and pour into containers.
Use about 1/2 cup in the Acuisina Silicone Ice Cube Trays.
For the Wilton Muffin Tin, one cup is perfect.
If you are measuring into quart sized freezer bags, 2 cups works best.
Place your containers of broth into the freezer. If you use the tins or trays, simply pop the frozen broth cubes into labeled gallon zipper bags.
If using the muffin tins, you may need to let them sit for a minute (or soak the bottom in warm water) for easier removal. For the silicone ice-cube trays, you just twist and invert the little cups like this:
You now have pre-measured wholesome homemade vegetable broth ready for your next recipe! No artificial ingredients, no colors, no preservatives, and no flavorings. If you’ve used organic veggies, it’s even organic vegetable broth, which saves you even more money at the grocery stores.
I received a free ice cube tray for the purposes of this review.
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.
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