Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homemade Vegetable Stock

I have recently started making all of our stock at home, and I really cannot figure out why it took me so long. This is the easiest way to have a constant supply of stock, and it pretty much costs nothing to make.

We used to buy organic stock in the little tetra packs, and it was expensive! The cheapest we could get it (on sale) was about $3 for a one litre container. And we would regularly go through at least two per soup recipe, so it was getting a bit ridiculous. Plus, the amount of sodium in the store bought broths is disgusting!  Once we started reducing the amount of salt in our diet, we really started to taste how salty the broth we bought was, and that was the turning point.

I have many recipes in my many cook books for vegetable stock, but what bothered me was that they all called for the use of fresh vegetables that you would have to discard afterwards. I think it is kind of silly to use beautiful, fresh produce to boil down into a broth. I mean, when you make chicken stock, you use the carcass of the chicken, in order to use up every last bit of the flavor. So why can't I use my vegetable "carcasses"? Now what is a vegetable carcass? It is the part of the vegetable you were just going to throw away and not eat. So I began saving all of the pieces that I was just going to discard anyways, and put them in a large freezer bag in the freezer. When it got full, I made stock. Here is my latest bag:

The ingredients? A lot of broccoli stalks, some wilty celery and cilantro (not going bad, but too wilty to cook with), onion tops, some shriveled ginger, garlic ends, carrot peels, shitake mushroom stems, and a special twist that I think made this batch of stock especially rich.  The juice from canned tomatoes. I had a recipe that called for whole tomatoes, drained and chopped. Well, instead of chucking out the juice, I decided to pour it into the bag, to add a nice tomatoey flavour. 

It takes a couple months to fill the bag, but the full bag also makes enough stock to last a couple months. I think that the size of your family will be relative to how many vegetables you save, and the amount of stock you use.  

So how do you make it? Well, it really couldn't be easier. You start by dumping all of your vegetables into your biggest pot, and covering them with water. Now my pot is not that big, so I ended up diluting my stock at the end, just to make it go a little further, and because it was quite rich. Keep in mind that the bigger your pot, the longer boiling time you will probably need, but you will get more stock. 

Vegetables covered in cold tap water

Next, you put the pot on the stove, cover it, and bring it to a boil. You then let it simmer/boil for about 2-4 hours, depending on how much time you have, and the size of your pot. I had to keep topping up my pot as some of the water absorbed, so just keep an eye on yours. You always want all of the vegetables covered in water. I let mine boil for about two and a half hours. I do not add any salt to my stock, as we like to salt our meals as we cook them, and I don't want to have to count the salt that is already in the stock, but you can do as you like. If you add salt, don't add a lot, and put it in at the beginning of the boiling process. 

Once your stock has boiled for a sufficient amount of time, remove it from the heat, and strain it. I get my biggest bowl out, put it in the sink, and put a big colander on top of it. I then dump the hot mixture into the colander, and let it strain. My bowl wasn't quite big enough to fit everything comfortably, so I ended up using a second big bowl to get the rest of the stock out. I also used a big wooden spoon to squash the vegetables a bit, to squeeze out any water they may have been retaining.  You may end up with tiny little bits of vegetable in your stock if you use a bigger colander, like I did. If that doesn't appeal to you, then simply use a fine sieve to strain your vegetables. 

Next, let your stock cool for a few hours, then ladle it into your freezing containers. I use old yogurt containers, and fill each one within an inch of the top. I find this amount is perfect for our recipe sizes. 

Please ignore the weird yellowish circle on the bottom left container, it is a trick of the light caught by 
my low quality camera.

Label your containers, and freeze them, and there you have it! Homemade stock, made entirely from scrap you were just going to throw away! Now go and get yourself a large freezer bag and start saving your vegetables!



  1. What a great idea! I'm getting my freezer bag right now!

    Stephanie :)

  2. loved your comments on and jumped over. your veggie stock looks yummy!

  3. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I have come over from Down to Earth to see your yummy salad and having a quick look at your older posts. I have been wanting to make some Vege stock and thought this would be how to do it, so imagine my delight to find you'd had success, into the freezer with my vege scraps :) Love your blog!

  4. Thanks Brenna, great idea! Never thought to do this! Will start from today!

  5. Great idea. I also got stuck trying to follow stock recipes and never having all the "right" ingredients. Now I've realised that even if I only have a few ingredients its better than nothing. Something else I add to my stock that you didn't mention is parsley or whatever other herbs and veges are in excess in my garden. Also peppercorns add a bit of spice and any "spare" wine is great for flavour! Thanks for your comment on my blog, I'll be saving my vege scraps now!