If you’re like me, the taste and expense of store-bought vegetable broth is just not something you want to deal with, and broth can seem like a crazy undertaking, with millions of ingredients and a long time, but once you get in the habit you’ll be glad you did. The control over your flavors, for different kinds of soups or applications is benefit enough, but you’ll also be producing less packaging waste AND stretching your groceries for every last little penny. Who knew onion skins would become your most treasured kitchen commodity?
It works like this: you go through your week, chop an onion here, smash some garlic there, and various other veggies in your travels. Save them, and especially the skins, the seeds, and the leaves. Have veggies that have gone a little limp or are a bit too near the end of their life? Put em in, they’ll boil down to flavor and the solids will be filtered out! Put all these unwanted scraps in a gallon ziploc bag and keep that baby in your veggie drawer until its full (up to 7 days) combine it with a broth bag, cover with water and BOOM broth.
Here’s one such example (its big, you can make 1/4 size no problem!):
6 mushrooms (and stalks from 5-7 more)
skins of 3-4 onions (with ends)
skins of 8-10 garlic cloves
seeds and leaving of 2 bell peppers
ends and seeds from 5 serrano chills
stalks from 1 bunch of cilantro
stalks from 1/2 bunch parsley
stalks from 2 bunches basil
celery leaves and ends from 1 bunch celery
4-6 carrot ends
3 zucchini ends
cut aways from 1 cauliflower head
spice bag (or tied off layered cheesecloth):
3 cardamom pods
2 star anise
1 tbs whole black peppercorns
1/2 tbs mustard seed
1/2 tbs celery seed
1 heaping tbs cumin seed
1/2 tbs caraway seed
5-6 bay leaves
1/2 tbs salt
See that spice bag on top? I got this spice bag at my local asian marketplace, but any cotton drawstring bag (like for jewelry) will be fine, especially after a trip through a high heat dishwasher! I dumped out my full gallon ziploc bag of scraps into my 8 qt. stock pot (leaving the colander in, oh how easier your life will be!)
Then I put the spice bag and salt on top, and covered with 28 oz of water. You want the level of water to be about 1-2 inches max above the veggies when you press them down, otherwise you will have a broth that is too dilute, and we want a broth delicious enough to drink on its own, or be the base for soups, and healthy cooking!
Bring the entire pot to a boil on a medium/high heat covered, then reduce to low, take the lid off, and let simmer 60-90min until your broth is a rich golden color and has reduced noticeably. You can set it and forget it, or go through when you feel like it and stir it to mix the flavors. Tasting along the way is recommended, however, and if your desired end would be enhanced, consider adding some seasonings towards the end of this process like oregano, basil, or any fresh herbs, or extra salt. Remember, a broth should be allowed to cool completely before refrigerating, and there will be enough heat left in this that fresh herbs can be added after you take it off the heat and they’ll incorporate nicely in the 22+ oz of broth that remain.
Let the veggies cool along with the broth, and then lift out the colander (save whatever cooked veggies look scrumptious, like mushrooms, onion, zucchini, to toss onto salads or soups or to snack on) and compost the rest. You are then left with a large amount of delicious broth.
And you can freeze it!, and when its time to thaw, place it in sink with hot water to thaw, or overnight in a fridge. Never buy processed, high salt, waste producing broth again, instead reduce even your own kitchen waste and create a nourishing, comforting, savory broth for all of your cooking needs for pennies on the dollar.