How to make homemade vegetable broth

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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

Veggie Broth Ingredients

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
Carrots are great for veggie broth - even the greens!
Carrots are great for veggie broth – even the greens!
  1. Yellow Onion Skins – the brown skins add rich color to the broth.
  2. Onion pieces
  3. Celery stems and leaves
  4. Beet leaves
  5. Carrot peels, leaves, and ends
  6. Wilting greens
  7. Basil, thyme, rosemary and other fresh herbs beyond their prime
  8. Freezer burned vegetables. Freezer burn isn’t harmful.  It damages flavor, but it’s fine for our purposes.
  9. Garlic
  10. Stems from leeks and other vegetables
  11. Mushroom stems and pieces
  12. Parsley and cilantro
  13. Bay Leaves
Things to Avoid
  1. Potatoes. While they are good in stew, potatoes actually absorb the flavor from broth and not add to it.
  2. Brussels sprouts. These little devils make broth very bitter.
  3. Beet roots will turn water red, and dye your rice (or whatever you are cooking broth in), red.
  4. Red Onion Skins – see beet roots.
  5. Broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables.
  6. Turnip roots.  Greens are ok.
  7. 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).

Acuisina King Size Ice Cube Tray
Acuisina King Size Ice Cube Tray – each cube holds about 1/2 cup broth

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!

Let’s Begin

Now we're cooking veggie broth

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.

Drain your veggie broth into a bowl.
Drain your veggie broth into a bowl.

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.

Ladling broth into Acuisina 1/2 Cup Ice Cube Tray
Ladling broth into Acuisina 1/2 Cup Ice Cube Tray

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.

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Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

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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Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It’s just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I’m loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

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.

30 Comments

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  • Amanda Tempel

    March 21, 2016 - 8:39 pm

    I seriously need to try this. Me and my boyfriend have started eating healthy, and trying to make only home-made meals, with farm fresh ingredients. I’ll be trying this, this weekend – Thank you!

    • Alicia Taylor

      April 18, 2016 - 3:31 pm

      Cool – let me know how you like it!

  • Joely Smith

    March 15, 2016 - 5:06 pm

    I am TOTALLY bookmarking this page! Thank you!! This is so easy and makes total sense! I have no idea why I have not researched this before. This is a lifesaver I love making soups but hate running to the store for broth! I most always have the veggies on hand!

  • brianna

    March 13, 2016 - 9:34 pm

    This is a great veggie broth recipe. I don’t make it often, but this is the recipe I use when I make it too.

  • Valerie | Tailored & Talented

    March 13, 2016 - 11:51 am

    In my household we’ve made vegetable soups and stews. But never tried vegetable broth. Can’t wait to try this recipe out! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 13, 2016 - 9:06 pm

      Let me know how it works. It’s the basis for a good vegetable stew.

  • nicole

    March 13, 2016 - 10:38 am

    what a great idea!. I love homemade broth and the idea of making it a storing for later is so convenient.

  • Michele

    March 13, 2016 - 9:04 am

    I really do love this idea!! I shudder when I think of how many veggies I have thrown out over the years-being single has its downfalls. This would be a great way to use all those before they hit the garbage!

  • April Hammond

    March 13, 2016 - 8:39 am

    I don’t make soup often, but when I do I make my own broth. I love your suggestions of things to put in it- more options! I also make my own chicken broth using chicken bones.

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 13, 2016 - 9:07 pm

      I am primarily vegetarian (I eat fish, so am pescatarian), so I don’t make chicken broth – but my grandmother does and taught me when I was young.

  • Jeanine

    March 13, 2016 - 8:23 am

    Yum. This is great. I’ve made broths before but never vegetable. Good to know I can do it if I want to.

  • Nicole Escat

    March 13, 2016 - 6:51 am

    Thank you for sharing! My husband is vegetarian, he will love this. Looks so tasty and healthy!

  • Tammilee Tips

    March 12, 2016 - 10:32 pm

    I never thought to make broth like this!! What a great recipe, I love that you know exactly what goes in it.

  • Holly @ Woman Tribune

    March 12, 2016 - 9:33 pm

    I have been cooking from scratch a lot more over the last few years and absolutely love making my own broths. It’s cost-effective, and it tastes better!

  • Valerie Robinson

    March 12, 2016 - 9:08 pm

    Oh my goodness! You are brilliant to make your very own batch. Will be trying -thanks!

  • Debbie

    March 12, 2016 - 6:41 pm

    This is a great idea. I make extra when I know I will be using it later in the week. Saving it like this is awesome.

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 12, 2016 - 7:03 pm

      I like doing it this way so it is always available when we need.

  • Chelley @ A is for Adelaide

    March 11, 2016 - 10:13 pm

    This is such a great idea! I also use a lot of broth, but I’ve never made my own! I think I am going to try this out!

  • Elizabeth O.

    March 11, 2016 - 7:19 pm

    That’s quite amazing. Thanks for the recipe and the instructions. I only use store bought ones and it would be nice to be able to make my own veggie broth!

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 11, 2016 - 9:18 pm

      If you do try it, I hope you really enjoy it. It can be healthier because you know what’s going into it – and it’s definitely cheaper

  • maria @ closetohome

    March 11, 2016 - 2:36 pm

    My grandmother used to save all the end pieces and say this is for the soup. I wish I did the same!

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 11, 2016 - 2:48 pm

      Yep – my grandmother did the same with Turkey and chicken parts, too. It’s never too late to start – though, I prefer making broth to soup because broth can be used for so many more things. I only do veggies because I’m a Pescatarian – and don’t eat meat (except fish)

  • Pat Mallette

    March 11, 2016 - 11:34 am

    What a great blog this one is! By doing this weekly, you alwasy have veggie both in your freezer.

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 11, 2016 - 11:47 am

      Yep – and it’s always tasty and healthy – I know what goes into – organic vegetable trimmings 🙂

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