Once you've been cooking your meals at home for a while, you'll start notice the giant piles of veggie clippings that end up in your trash. Stop wasting them! You can throw them in a compost bin, of course, but maybe you don't garden. Or maybe, like me, you cook so damn much that you end up with more clippings than will fit in your compost bin. That's when it's time to start storing them in a plastic shopping bag in the freezer. Then, once the bag is full and overflowing, it's time to make vegetable broth!
Collect the ends and stems from vegetables like onions, leeks, fennel, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, greens, asparagus, carrots, celery and herbs. If you notice some leftover veggies at the bottom of your crisper drawer that are about to go bad, throw them in the freezer too. I typically avoid veggies that are too starchy to make broth, like potatoes and corn, or too strongly flavored, like ginger and rosemary, but if you're feeling adventurous you can always try experimenting with something weird.
When your freezer bag is full, it's time to make the broth. Since the stems and ends of vegetables tend to be places where dirt collects, put your clippings in a colander and rinse them well. Then, toss them in a big stock pot.
Now go through your crisper drawer again. Got any old carrots and celery that have been sitting there for a while? Maybe a package of fresh herbs that you never seem to get to the bottom of? Throw them in too. For some added flavor, I also like to put in a few cloves of garlic.
Fill up your stock pot (giving it a few inches of head room) and turn the heat up to high. With all those frozen veggies in there, it will take a long time to start boiling, so let it do its thing and check up on it every once in a while. When the pot comes to a full boil, turn the heat down to a healthy simmer.
You want the veggies to simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until they take on a dull, greyish appearance. The lack of color is a sign that the flavors and nutrients have been transferred to the broth.
When the broth is done simmering, get out a second, smaller pot and start straining the broth through a wire mesh strainer. I use a ladle to scoop up veggies and broth from the big pot and transfer it to the strainer. Then, I like to mash the veggies down a bit with the back of a spoon to make sure all that yummy juice gets through.
After you've strained the broth, give it a taste. You can then decide whether or not to add salt. Since most vegetable broth has some salt added, I like to stir in small amounts until it tastes "right" to me. Of course, that step is entirely up to you.
Now you're ready to ladle the broth into jars or sealable plastic containers. This time, I ended up with about 2-3 times the amount of broth you see in the picture above.
Store the broth in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
For recipes that use vegetable broth, click here.