While stocks and broths are easy to find in shelf-stable forms at the grocery store, they are also incredibly easy to make using kitchen scraps – which makes them virtually free.
Note: While the words “stock” and “broth” are often used interchangeably, technically “stock” refers specifically to those made with bones, while “broth” refers to liquids made from meat or vegetables. We’ll use the term “broth” for the purposes of this article.
Vegetable broth is an incredibly versatile ingredient known mainly as the base for soups and stews, but broth can also enhance your risottos, mashed potatoes, purees, and even savory pie crusts. Any savory recipe that calls for water can be replaced with broth for a little added flavor.
Step 1: Gather scraps
The next time you’re peeling carrots, skinning onions, or even peeling potatoes, save those scraps in a bag or container and keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to use. If you’re wanting to make true stock or a meat broth, you can also add bones or scraps of meat. Be sure to remove as much fat as possible to make the storing step easier.
Many scraps you wouldn’t expect really enhance the flavor of a broth. We’ve found success with the following:
- Bell pepper
- Carrot peels and tops
- Potato peels (this will darken your broth a great deal and make it starchier)
- zucchini ends and peels
- cheese wax
- onion and garlic skins
- squash pulp
- wilted vegetables
Step 2: Cook
When you’re ready to prepare your broth, get out a stock pot or large sauce pan and add your stored scraps. Cover with water, and add a few spices to taste. We frequently use thyme, pepper, salt, bay leaves, and parsley. Over time, you’ll get a feel for what scrap/water ratio you like best, but if you’re just starting out try to think about two to three times as much water as scraps. The water will reduce.
Bring water to boil quickly, then reduce and simmer for as long as you like. I love the smell of simmering broth, so I tend to let mine go for a couple hours.
Step 3: Store
If making vegetable broth, strain the liquid into sanitized jars immediately and store. Vegetable broth will keep for about 3 months in the freezer and about a week in the refrigerator.
If making meat broth, let the mixture cool completely so you can skim fat off the top before straining and storing.