Weekend Project: Veggie Broth

Back in the spring, I decided that at some point I wanted to make an enormous batch of veggie broth, and then freeze it to use for soup and all kinds of other yummy things. For starters, I kept calling it “veggie stock” but then did some research and this is incorrect. As a general rule, stocks are liquids that have had bones cooked in them, while broths have had only meat (or in this case veggies) cooked in them. By making my own broth, I would never have to buy prepackaged broth, which has a ton of sodium. I’m reducing food waste and making healthier food all in one go here.

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So to start this project, I grabbed a big freezer Ziploc bag and labeled it as “scraps for veggie broth”. Then every time I had clean vegetable scraps, like the middle of a carrot after using a peeler to shred it, or the end of an onion, or little bits of leftover garlic, I threw them in here. I had some celery tops, and tomato cores, and parsley that was getting close to past it’s prime. Basically anything that was clean, not moldy, and not a bitter vegetable (i.e. no kale, no brussel sprouts) is fair game. What I really liked about this was that it was cutting down my food waste. Instead of throwing out that parsley that was getting a little old, or losing so much of an onion by trimming the ends and peeling, I could just throw them in my freezer bag and know they would be used later. I also started saving any plastic containers I could find at this point. Since the broth was going to be frozen, and I don’t have a magical endless Tupperware, I knew I needed a lot. This meant that every sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, or bulk food container that came through the door was washed and saved.

When I decided that there was enough scraps and the bag was full, I grabbed my giant stock pot on a Sunday morning (I’m really fun to hang out with, I swear), put it on the stove, dumped the contents of the freezer bag in it, and then topped it up with water. At this point, I added some herbs and odds and ends to it. I had some bay leaves that probably wouldn’t bring a ton of flavour unless they were simmered for hours: perfect! Ditto for dried basil I’ve had since first year. Same goes for coriander seeds that came from a hand-me-down spice rack one of my roommates decided she didn’t want. Basically anything that wasn’t gross, but wasn’t good for much else went in. I put it on high heat to bring the whole thing to a boil and get it heated through. With such a big pot of water, this does take a long time. Once it came to a boil, I reduced the heat and let it simmer away for the next 6 hours while I went about my day.

After letting the broth simmer, I turned the heat off entirely and let the pot sit for an hour to cool down a little bit before straining. Then, I carefully scooped out some of the bigger pieces of vegetable so they wouldn’t be in the way. Now here’s the fun part: I had to strain all of this liquid and get it into containers to go in the freezer. While a really find sieve would have been perfect for this, I do not have one, and my colander was going to let way too many piece of wayward veggie scrap through. So obviously using a jelly bag was the right idea, right? For each container of broth, I placed the jelly bag just inside the top of the container, and ladled broth through it. This worked really well sometimes, and other times made an enormous mess as I tried to wrestle the container and the jelly bag and vegetable pieces and warm liquid. Next time, I will find myself a sieve for this, and find a way to bring the very heavy and very warm pot closer to the sink. Live and learn.

Finally, once all the containers were full, I let them cool completely, put the lids on, labeled them with the date, and got creative making room for them in the freezer. Now we’re all just waiting to see what I can make with all this! Stay tuned!

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