How To Make Homemade Vegetable Stock

Reusable Nation - food scraps for homemade vegetable stock

Making homemade vegetable stock from veggie scraps is how we avoid buying packaged vegetable stock from the supermarket. It is not only waste free; it is cost free as well.

When setting your food scraps aside for composting, simply start collecting the scraps of the vegetables you can use to make stock separately.

We have been saving up the vegetables recommended for stock for months and now have a huge Ziplock bag (reused from pre-zero waste) full of them in our freezer.

You can store them in any airtight container in your fridge, but if you are not going to get around to making the stock for months like us, store them in the freezer. You can’t use rotten or mouldy produce to make a stock.

 

Vegetables to use and vegetables to not use

We wrote a list of the food waste to put in the stock container and put it on our fridge, so we could easily be reminded of what to put in there and what to put in our compost bucket. We also put up a list of what not to put in there, as not all vegetables work in a stock.

The vegetable ends and skins and scraps that we have been saving for our stock are:

  • onions

  • carrots

  • celery

  • leeks

  • scallions

  • garlic

  • fennel

  • chard

  • lettuce

  • potatoes

  • parsnips

  • green beans

  • pea pods

  • zucchini and other squash

  • capsicums

  • mushrooms

  • corn cobs

  • dill

  • thyme

  • parsley

  • coriander

  • basil

Before you send these vegetables to your compost heap, use them to make vegetable stock. This is the easiest way to get plastic-free stock for future cooking and is a great way to get the last out of your veggies before they get turned into nourishing soil.

Not all vegetables can be used to make stock though; some will cause it to be bitter or have a flavour that is too strong and will overpower the stock if they are put in it. The food scraps that don’t work well in stocks and that have been going straight into our compost bin are:

  • cabbage

  • brussels sprouts

  • broccoli

  • cauliflower

  • turnips

  • swedes

  • artichokes

 

Storing Stock

Make sure you have enough containers to store your stock in once it has been made. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough space in the freezer for the amount of stock you’re making.

It can be stored in either plastic or glass containers or freezer bags. We recommend using whatever you have lying around – reuse glass jars, repurpose yoghurt or butter plastic containers, or use mason jars or old Tuppaware containers.

You can also use ice trays to store it in smaller amounts for little shots of flavour.

We would be wary of freezing broth in plastic bags, however, as research shows that cold temperatures release as many toxins from plastic as high temperatures.

You’ll want to store it in the quantities that you’ll be using it in for ease of defrosting and use.

For a soup you generally use a few cups of stock, around 5 or 6, and for other recipes like curries and lentil dishes you generally use a cup or two from our experience.

It is very important to remember to leave at least 5 cm or 2 inches of the container empty or only fill three quarters of your container so you allow room for the liquid to expand, as the liquid stock will expand and your jars can crack or explode if you don’t.

The liquid stock must be cool or chilled when you put it into the containers you are going to store it in.

Also, only put the lids on your containers after the stock has frozen solid.

Also, don’t forget to write the date it was made on your stock. It can be stored for up to five days in the fridge and for up to three months in the freezer.

 

Recipe for Homemade Vegetable Stock

This recipe uses 4 to 6 cups of vegetable scraps and makes around 2 quarts of stock, which is about 7 cups or 1.9 litres.

It only takes an hour of simmering on the stove. Some people like to let it simmer for longer for a stronger flavour though - the longer you simmer it for the stronger the flavour.

You can also use a slow cooker instead and cook it on low for 8 hours overnight or 3 to 4 hours on high.

Ingredients

4-6 cups of vegetables scraps
1-2 bay leaves
A few black peppercorns
Water – enough to cover the vegetable scraps

Method

1. Place the vegetable scraps in a 5 quart stock pot.
2. Add the bay leaves and black peppercorns.
3. Cover with water and bring to the boil.
4. Simmer uncovered on medium heat for an hour.
5. Take off the heat and strain into a bowl.
6. Leave to cool and then pour into storing containers once cool.
7. Put in fridge and use within 5 days or cool in fridge and then transfer to freezer.

Recipe adapted from Care2’s homemade vegetable stock recipe, which can be found here.