Making homemade vegetable broth was our favorite homesteading project at my last community house, the Big Red Barn, and I’m continuing to carry on the tradition. It’s simple, delicious, nutritious (much healthier than store-bought), and makes great use of a waste stream (veggie scraps). I usually use veggie broth for cooking in place of oils (for health and economic reasons) or water (to add flavor and nutrients). And now that I have a solar oven, I have the added benefit of simmering the broth outside in the solar oven rather than on the stove.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Save veggie scraps in a plastic bag or Tupperware in your freezer. I usually go for garlic and onion peels, celery and carrot butts, carrot tops, cabbage/tomato/potato scraps, broccoli stems, kale stalks, remnants of herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, ginger, etc.), even apple cores or lemon peels. I don’t use scraps from veggies that you don’t usually cook (cucumbers, lettuce, etc.). Other than that, I’m usually not too picky about what I keep for broth, but try to avoid having too much bitter (ex: mostly kale stalks) because that can affect the flavor of your dish (Kathryn, remember that horrible squash soup we made?).
- When you’ve filled up a bag or two with scraps (depending on the size pot you’re using), you’re ready to make broth! I used to use a huge pot and would save up 2-3 bags of scraps, making broth once or twice a month and storing it in the freezer. Now that I have limited freezer space, I make smaller batches on a weekly basis and use it fresh. If you’re using the Solavore Sport solar oven, I recommend using one quart-size bag of veggie scraps for each graniteware pot.
- If you’re using a solar oven, pre-heat the oven.
- Pour the frozen veggie scraps into your pot, and fill the pot with enough water to mostly submerge the veggies (once the scraps begin cooking they will sink lower into the pot). Feel free to add seasonings (extra garlic, onion, ginger, or spices) if desired (you can always add these later when you use the broth in cooking).
- Bring to a boil on your stove.
- Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer. Or, if you’re using a solar oven, place the pot(s) in the pre-heated oven.
- Allow to simmer until you smell a strong, rich veggie broth aroma (this is harder to identify if you’re using the solar oven – just let it simmer for an hour or two and go give it a smell).
- Turn off the heat or remove pot from solar oven and let cool.
- When the broth is room temperature (or cool enough to package in glass or plastic), strain out the veggies and pour the broth into storage containers to keep in your fridge or freezer. If you’re freezing the broth make sure to leave enough space in the vessel for the liquid to expand when frozen (we’ve cracked plenty of glass jars and wasted lots of broth this way!).
- Keep one jar of veggie broth in your fridge to use for soups, rice, sautéing vegetables, and more!
- Enjoy, and repeat!