In Top 5 Things to Keep in the Freezer, I introduced the idea of keeping a veggie scrap bag in your freezer, which is how you make my sixth top frozen staple item—homemade veggie broth.
If you have a compost program in your community or a backyard compost, most of your food scraps probably end up there, but making homemade veggie broth is another fun and resourceful thing to do with scraps. Stems, ends, peels, and any veggie pieces that aren’t usable in your cooking but are still flavorful and nutrient-packed, are all great candidates for your scrap bag. I tend to freeze a lot of kale stems, leek greens, onion pieces, celeriac skins herb stems, and carrot peels. I don’t recommend using potatoes or potato peels because they are too starchy and, in general, don’t freeze well. If something has mold or has begun to decompose, it’s better to compost it.
Store your broth in the freezer for up to three months. Use your homemade broth in any recipe that calls for broth or to make soup. I often make a simple week-night soup by defrosting homemade broth and throwing in potatoes or pasta and whatever vegetables I have on hand. The flavors come together quickly when cooking with homemade broth, and every broth is a little different.
veggie scraps to fill a 1-gallon freezer bag
1 tsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic or 1 shallot
Additional vegetables if not already in your bag
1 onion or leek
1-2 celery or 1 cup celeriac
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
1-2 bunches of fresh parsley
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp tomato paste
mushrooms or mushroom stems
This scrap bag was mostly kale stems, so I added frozen celeriac, fresh garlic, and rosemary.
Wash and coarsely chop any optional fresh vegetables you’re adding. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Cover with enough water to submerge the vegetables and then top off with another couple of inches. You want to be able to stir the vegetables easily. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about an hour.
Turn off the heat and scoop out large veggie pieces with a slotted spoon and discard. Then place a fine mesh colander over a large pyrex or heat-proof bowl (do this in the sink in case it splatters). Carefully pour the broth through the strainer into the bowl. Discard or compost remaining veggie scraps.
Transfer broth to an airtight container (glass jars work well), leaving a little space for expansion as they cool.