Tuesday 11 November 2014

Vegetable broth for free!

This weeks thrifty food tip is how to make your own vegetable broth, absolutely free.

You can buy vegetable broth in cans, cartons, or powder at the store, but not only is it pretty expensive, even for the cheapo stuff, but it is also usually full of preservatives and artificial flavours and colours and very high in sodium to boot. 

Instead, why not just make your own?

You'll need a gallon freezer bag, a freezer, some cheesecloth

 (optional, but makes things much easier) or a wok skimmer and a crock pot/slow cooker, rice cooker, Instant Pot, stock pot, or other large pot for simmering or pressure cooker, and a marker. 

Every time you make a salad, trim veggies for dinner, slice onions, etc, there are some bits, like ends, stems, peels, and such that usually get thrown out. 

All you have to do is start saving those bits in a freezer bag kept in your freezer. Green onion caps, onion skins, celery and cucumber ends, tomato cores and stems, bell pepper seeds, stems and the white "pulpy" bits, artichoke stems, green bean ends, carrot peelings... You name it! Toss it all in the bag. When it gets full, time to make your vegetable stock (or start a new bag and make the stock later.. whichever). 

  • Line your pot with the cheesecloth, if using and dump all the trimmings in. 
  • Fill to the top with water. 
  • Add any additional salt or seasoning, if desired.
  • Turn the crock pot on low and let it go for 8-16 hours. 
    •  If you're using a rice cooker, turn it to the "cook" setting until it starts boiling, then leave it on warm for the same amount of time. Check water level periodically and add as needed.
    • If using the stove, bring to a boil and then simmer on lowest possible setting for 3-5 hours, at least. Check water level periodically and add as needed.
    • If you're using the Instant Pot/pressure cooker, set it to manual/pressure for 90-120 minutes and let it do a natural release.
  • When it tastes like broth, turn off the heat and let it cool enough to handle. 
  • Pull up the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the liquid you can into the pot, or skim solids out with a wok skimmer or strainer. (The veggies can then be composted or added to animal feed. Just take out any bits that are still too tough, like tomato stems, and beware of giving dogs onion, as they can be toxic to some dogs)
That's it!
Once it's done, you can use it right away, or you can freeze or can it. For freezing, I suggest using a rinsed out, cardboard milk carton, freezer bags,reditainers, or, if you want more measuring control when you use it, ice cube trays.

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