Homemade vegetable stock from leftover vegetables and herbs is a great way to add flavor to many dishes you make. It is also an easy way to limit waste while cooking! The best part is that it’s SO EASY and requires one more step during your regular cooking process.
Vegetable stock isn't too expensive at the store, but nothing tastes better than making it! Trying to be environmentally conscientious? A stock from scratch is a great way to use leftover food scraps as well. I've always tried to compost, but keeping leftover food scraps in a small apartment does not bode well! Instead, I read about using food scraps to make your own stock and after the first time I made it, I will never turn back. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!
What is vegetable stock
Vegetable stock is a stock made from vegetables only. Simmer water with vegetables to make veggie stock.
difference between stock vs broth
The difference between a vegetable stock and broth, is that stocks is the base of cooking dishes like soups and sauces. A broth is technically any liquid that meat is cooked in. Broth is the next step after stock and has additional meat, vegetables and seasoning. In addition, broth is meant for sipping, while stock is meant as the base for recipes.
WHY MAKE YOUR OWN STOCK?
- LESS WASTE - I’ve almost eliminated food waste from hard vegetables! Only by making my own vegetable stocks. I use vegetable stock often and it feels good to not throw anything away.
- SOLUTION FOR PRODUCE SLIGHTLY PAST PRIME - Ever bought a huge container of parsley with the goal of making fresh herbs your ~thing~ for the week? And then it’s a week or two (or three..) later and you’re like oh…? Yeah, I’ve been there too. Instead of throwing those herbs out or produce you were positive you’d use: freeze them and use them for good!
- TASTES GOOD - I mean, duh!
- HEALTHIER SODIUM LEVELS - You add your own salt to your preference. You can omit salt so that each time you make something you are in complete control of the sodium level. There’s nothing worse than using stock and it turns out saltier than you thought.
- SAVE IT FOR FUTURE USE - Every month or two I like to make a huge batch of vegetable stock and then freeze portions of it. I like to use Souper Cubes to save for the future in pre-proportioned sizes of ½ cup to 1 cup so that I know how much I need. You can use veggie stock to cook anything like rice or quinoa to soups and stews.
INGREDIENTS FOR VEGGIE STOCK
WHAT VEGETABLES TO SAVE & USE in a homemade vegetable stock
- CARROTS - Make lots of carrot juices? Save the pulp.
- ONIONS / LEEKS - Red onions will turn stock a purple-ish, pink color.
- BELL PEPPERS - I usually do not use bell peppers in my stock, but you definitely can. It will taste pepper-forward, so it’s a great addition for pepper soups, chili’s, etc.
- PARMESAN RINDS - Although completely optional, parmesan rinds can add umami flavor.
- TOMATOES - Make lots of tomato juices? Save the pulp.
WHAT VEGETABLES NOT TO USE
You should only save the harder vegetables listed above. Things I’d never use in a homemade vegetable stock are things like:
- Broccoli / Cauliflower
- Green Beans
How To Make Homemade Vegetable Stock
Making your own Vegetable Stock is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
STEP 1: Collect & Freeze Leftovers
Collect the scraps of stock ingredients (read above) when you are cooking. Each time I cook I like to keep a small bowl next to me so that I can easily access a place for the scraps. When I’m done prepping the vegetables, I empty into a Stasher bag or a gallon-sized Ziplock bag. I also do this if I’m cleaning out produce from the fridge past its prime. (I prefer a Stasher bag as they reduce the waste of Ziplocks and stop freezer burn. If using a Ziplock, double-bag.)
Aim for an equal amount of vegetables scraps of each kind.
STEP 2: SIMMER LEFTOVERS WITH SPICES
Once the freezer bag is full, take out a large soup pot and empty the food scraps into it. Fill the pot with as much water as possible (about 12 cups), leaving about 2-inches from the top so to not boil over. Add about 10 whole black peppercorns, 3 cloves, and 1 bay leaf. Simmer the stock for 2-3 hours - the longer you simmer the stronger the vegetable taste.
I usually lightly salt the stock with 1 tablespoon of salt while I'm simmering. I leave it under-seasoned so that I can control the salt levels when I cook with it.
STEP 3: STRAIN AND FREEZE (OR USE RIGHT AWAY)
Strain the food scraps and pour the finished stock into jars for the fridge (will last up to 10 days).
What to do with leftover vegetable stock
You can freeze into ice cubes. If you’re short on space in your freezer, you can let the stock cool in the pot. Next, pour into large Ziplock bags so that they can still close. Close them and lay them flat, letting out all extra air. Lay flat in your freezer so it freezes in a thin layer. Once frozen you can stack or keep in a shelf-like manner.
How to use Vegetable Stock
Use this vegetable stock in soups or to add flavors in rice and quinoa. Try it in Vegan Mexican Rice.
How to Make Vegetable Stock from Leftover Veggies
- Frozen Vegetables and Herbs
- 12 Cups or more Water
- 10 Black Peppercorns
- 3 Cloves
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tablespoon Salt optional
- Put all ingredients into a soup pot on the stove. For an unsalted stock, do not add salt. Cover with enough water to reach 2 inches from the top of the pot. (The more water, the longer you will simmer to get flavor)
- Turn on low heat for a medium simmer. Place the lid on.
- Simmer for at least 2 hours and up to 3 hours. I usually simmer for 2.5 hours, but if I use a larger pot, it takes longer to get the stronger flavor out. If you have more than 12 cups of water, simmer for at least 3 hours and until the strength of stock is up to preference.
- Strain into ice cubes tray, ziplock gallon bags, or mason jars. Or strain and use immediately. For fresh stock, keep in the fridge for up to 10 days; frozen stock, keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.