My friend Craig, who gave me a recipe for baked pork chops and sauerkraut, had what I thought was another really great idea. He made his own vegetable broth to use in dishes. It never occurred to me to save all of my vegetable trimmings until I had a good amount, throw them in a crock pot to simmer and make vegetable broth!
Not to be outdone, I wanted to try this out for myself. I immediately started collecting my vegetable ends: carrots, onions, asparagus, celery, tomato, green onions, bell peppers, etc. My P.S. got on board and when he made meals he put all of his ends into my zippered bag stored in the freezer as well. After just a couple of weeks we had two large bags full of vegetable leftovers to make broth. We were pretty proud of ourselves, being all frugal and repurposing perfectly good veggies.
My largest slow cooker held both bags of pieces, but just barely. I put the frozen pieces in and added water. I couldn’t wait to see what happened. I turned the temperature to medium about 8 pm one evening. Craig said he simmered it for 48 hours, and I was going to let it set and simmer for 2 days.
The next morning I woke to the most hideous smell in my house. I rushed down to the kitchen to see what had died in the crock pot but it looked harmless enough. The veggies had melted and formed a colorful sort of stew as it bubbled gently. But that smell, well I was getting more skeptical by the minute. It didn’t actually smell like something anyone would want to eat.
Seriously, a lot of foods smell not so pleasant if you think about it. I totally love Roquefort dressing, in spite of it smelling like something that came out of my mouth when I had the flu. And Parmesan? Well my family calls it “stinky cheese” even as we sprinkle it on a whole lot of foods we eat. But this broth? It was clearly heading for the category of ‘Foods We Eat But Try Not To Smell’.
I left the crock pot going until 8 pm that evening, a full 24 hours of simmering. The veggies were all cooked almost beyond recognition and I was just plain tired of that smell in my house. Unfortunately it was early spring and still way too cold outside to open windows to clear the air. I also forgot to take a picture before I strained it, but trust me you didn’t want to see that anyway..
That evening I left a message on Facebook for Craig, asking if I’d done something wrong since the veggie broth smelled so bad. Craig left me a reply: If it smelled like dirty socks, you did it right. I replied back: I wish you’d warned me about that smell!
I had let the crock pot contents cool an hour or so, then strained it first through a pasta strainer, then a finer metal strainer I have. Craig had suggested using coffee filters to strain it as he had, but I have a jelly strainer bag I used instead. Eventually it was a fairly clear broth and it needed seasoning. I added salt and pepper until I was happy with the taste, then poured it into my bottle system I use to freeze portions of soup.
I ended up with 5 bottles of veggie broth that were about 12 ounces each. I labeled and dated them and froze them upright, then laid them sideways. You can peek at my soup storage system I posted previously here.
Veggie broth isn’t something my recipes call for often, but now I can have it ready and without all the msg and other artificial icky stuff found in the store brands. I thought it was easy and an amazing way to save veggies that are not getting used fast enough. Lots of veggies lose their lives in my fridge’s crisper drawers. I now have a way to rectify that! Stay tuned for recipes to use my newfound broth.
Collect your end discards from vegetables in a zippered bag and store in the freezer. You could save the ends of many vegetables such as: Tomatoes, Carrots, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Bok Choy, Green Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage
And other extra veggies like: Corn, Peas, Parsley, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower
Most any vegetable will work together with the rest. I’d avoid using strong tasting things like cilantro unless you want that strong presence in your broth, since it tends to take over. You might also want to avoid spicy peppers unless you’re specifically making a broth you want spicy.
When you have enough frozen veg to fill your crock pot, add water to cover and turn it on medium. Let it cook and bubble for 24 hours.
Cool for an hour or so then strain. You might try a larger strainer first, then a finer one before using cheesecloth or a jelly bag to strain the very fine bits from the broth. You don’t need it to be totally debris free, strain it to the consistency you prefer.
Refrigerate or freeze in portions (one or two cup portions would be ideal). Will last for several months frozen, or a few days refrigerated.