This is the first in a series on basic cooking skills and making things from scratch. If you have a kitchen skill you’d like me to cover in this series, be sure to leave a comment below!
Entering the world of “real food” on the Internet can be overwhelming. There are many opinions about what qualifies, and what’s the best, and what you should and should not do, but one thing that most of the real food world agrees on is that making things from scratch is a good idea. Some of those things are complicated. Some of those things take a lot of time and effort. This is not one of those things. Making your own vegetable broth takes about 10 minutes of hands on work (and that’s split between a couple different times!). You can do this.
Start by labeling a large freezer bag “Broth Bag”. Any time you peel or chop vegetables, put the peelings and extra bits in here, and keep it in the freezer. The exception is if something is going bad. Don’t save the funky bits. If you’re not sure you want to do this, did I mention that homemade vegetable broth is free? You’re using up bits that were going to get thrown out anyways.
Almost any vegetable will work! These are the ones we use most commonly:
- Carrot peels and ends
- Onion peels
- Celery ends and leaves
- Butternut or acorn squash peels and stems
- Pepper tops
- Ends of zucchini or other squash
About the only ones to avoid are potato peels, because they make the broth really starchy and weird. Once the bag is full, it’s time to make broth!
You don’t need much equipment to make your own broth either:
- A crockpot or large stock pot (depending on the method you choose – more on that below)
- Something to store the finished broth in – I use some old coconut oil jars and pyrex containers
- A way to strain the broth – I use a mesh sieve like this one
- Something to hold the bits you strain out until they cool off – I just use a smaller pot
Optional, but helpful:
- A large pyrex measuring cup to get smaller quantities of broth out of the pot for easier pouring (but you could use a ladle also)
- A funnel to keep the broth going in the jars/containers and not all over the counter – I use this one that came with my canning gear
Crockpot Method: Dump your broth bag into your crockpot (no need to thaw first). Fill the crockpot with water until almost full, about 1/2 inch from the top. Add 1 tsp. salt, a good sprinkle of black pepper, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. dill weed. You really only need the salt, but the rest of the seasonings help round out the flavor.
Cook on low all day long, at least 8 hours. I usually start it in the morning after breakfast, and strain it after dinner. Or you can also start it in the evening, and strain it the next morning. Whatever is easiest for you!
Stovetop Method: Dump your broth bag into a large stockpot and fill with water until almost full, about 1 inch from the top. Use the same seasonings as listed in the crockpot method. Cover and heat to boiling, then lower to a simmer for 1-2 hours. The longer you simmer, the more flavor you’ll have. But you have to babysit this one a little bit more to make sure the water level doesn’t go down too much. Otherwise that kind of defeats the purpose. This is why I almost always go with the crockpot method.
Both: Once the broth has cooled a bit, use your sieve to scoop out a good portion of the veggie bits. Then, using a ladle or pyrex measuring cup, scoop out more broth and pour through the sieve into your storage container. Repeat until you’re out of broth. Cool completely on the counter, then label and store in the refrigerator. Use or freeze within one week. (Important: If you go to freeze your broth, take the lid off while it initially freezes to account for expansion! You don’t want to break your jars!)
Do you make your own broth? Tell me about it!
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