Thursday, March 6, 2014

how to make super delicious, all natural, no chemical, vegetable stock concentrate from scraps you were just going to throw away anyway.

vegetable stock. its pretty dang essential if, like me, you dont eat meat and want to enjoy things like soup and curry and risotto and quinoa that doesnt taste like dirt (though, cooking quinoa in stock does NOT make it actually tasty or filling). 

well its really hard to find one thats both affordable and not just salt and msg. 

for YEARS i was really into better than bouillon soup base (dont let the amazon price freak you out, its only like $5-6 at the grocery store and makes SO MUCH SOUP and comes out WAY cheaper than cubes). its awesome. mainly because it doesnt have any nasty chemically ingredients (some stores carry an organic version as well), and since the paste is just in a jar instead of already packed in cubes, you can totally control how much flavor gets into whatever youre making. really, if you were to ask me what my favorite broth/stock/bouillion was, id say better than bouillion. 

BUT as you probably all know by now i am allergic to everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. and even the organic better than bouillon concentrate has soy sauce. and soy sauce, unless specifically declared gluten free (in which case, is actually tamari sauce, but thats beside the point), is a big no-no for me. i tried a couple other boullions recently and 1. they really werent nearly as good as the better than bouillon and 2. all of them either contained msg or other suspiciously msg-sounding ingredients and i just found out that i am DEFINITELY severely allergic to msg (i mean, what else could make me sick for a week from a plain salmon fillet at a restaurant?). 

so the time finally came to try something totally crazy that id wanted to try for months but was too afraid to but now i HAD to do it or we were never having soup again (and with a diet as restricted as mine, soup had to be saved AT ALL COSTS):

homemade vegetable stock concentrate from vegetable scraps. 

now, in typical obsessive compulsive firstborn fashion, i did a LOT of research on how exactly i should go about doing this, but since i had a VERY specific end product in mind, i didnt see anything that was exactly perfect. i found plenty of recipes for scrap stock (apparently its totally a thing, and a couple recipes for stock concentrate from whole veggies (but that just seemed like a waste of good vegetables). 

so basically i combined what i thought were the best methods of vegetable scrap stock  making, and stock concentrate making.   

and it turned out pretty dang awesome. so awesome that I'm going to show you how to do it too (obviously). 

this isnt really so much of a hardlined recipe as much as its a tutorial which you can customize to fit your needs/preferences. because the exact ingredients dont really matter so much as the technique, and the technique is what i couldnt anywhere in the internet, anyway. 

so lets get started:

first youre going to need to start saving your vegetable scraps. 

mine had things like carrot, onion, and potato skins, celery ends and leaves, and bits of squash and asparagus. but really you can use anything you want except leafy veggies (lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.)

you just put these in a gallon size ziploc in your freezer and wait till its full, it will look like this:              

depending on how much you cook this could take anywhere from a week to a couple months (it took us maybe three weeks to fill one bag?), but anyway, when its full youre going to pop it in your biggest pot, along with a few other (optional) ingredients:

i added a can of tomatoes (most of the stocks ive bought have tomato in the ingredients but we dont eat fresh tomatoes, so if you have tomato scraps in your bag this wont be necessary), a bunch of parsley (because i didnt have any herb scraps in there), a few cloves of garlic, some bay leaf, salt, and black pepper. again, this part is really up to you.

next fill the rest of your giant pot with water:

and bring everything to a boil (note: this will take FOREVER since your veggies were all frozen), it will look like really ugly soup:

once its finally boiling, lower the heat and simmer everything until quite a bit of the water has evaporated and whats left tastes like vegetable stock (be sure to check periodically to see if you need more salt, pepper, herbs, whatever) this will take about three hours. it will look really gross:

but it will taste delicious. now you need to strain all of the scraps out. you could do this any number of ways, i simply used a potato masher to hold the scraps back while i poured the liquid into a separate pot. if you want to make sure you get every last drop of vegetable goodness (and why wouldnt you?) you could put the remaining scraps in cheesecloth and squeeze out the remaining liquid. i didnt want to wait for it to cool so i just kept mashing the leftover veggies until no more liquid came out. that works too. 

if you were just wanting to make vegetable stock, this is where youd stop:

my full stock pot yielded about 2.5 quarts of absolutely wonderful vegetable stock. 

but were not just making stock here (mainly because i dont want all that stock crowding up my freezer), were making stock concentrate, so were going to add one more step and simmer the strained stock on a very low flame until almost all the water is gone and you have a VERY concentrated bouillon paste (but be careful not to burn it!):

this will take about three more hours.

(sorry for the poor image quality there, at that point it was already dark outside and the lighting in my kitchen is terrible). 

my 2.5 quarts of stock boiled all the way down to fit perfectly in one eight-ounce better than bouillon jar:

now, what I've made here is not quite as concentrated as the actual better than bouillon paste, so it takes about a tablespoon of concentrate to make two cups of broth (instead of a teaspoon per cup, but still, i found a more than satisfactory replacement for something that i can't eat anymore, AND found a way to be less wasteful in the kitchen. a total win-win, right? 

(the answer is right. i had three gallon bags of veggie scraps in my freezer. i made three jars of this)

and there you have it, thats how i made tons of super awesome vegetable stock, basically for free. it is kind of a process, and does take almost a whole day, BUT since most of the time is passive, its really not that difficult. plus, you know, you were throwing those veggie scraps out anyway. might as well make them into something useful and delicious.


  1. Umm... this is pretty much amazing!!!!!

  2. Ok, the idea of making a broth concentrate is BRILLIANT. I've never made any broth before, I always just buy boxes of chicken stock. But I think I'm going to give this a try!

  3. Awesome recipe and how-to! I'm going to start saving my veggie scraps - I always hated throwing them away anyway ;)

    aka Bailey

  4. SUCH a good idea Victoria. I am definitely going to start saving my veggie scraps. Thanks for sharing :D

  5. thanks! i forgot to mention the best part, for the whole day that your making it, your house smells like soup!

  6. thank you! yes! I hate being wasteful and am always looking for little ways to reduce how much trash we make, and this was definitely the Mose delicious way I've found!

  7. seriously, once I found out about the better than bullion i swore I'd never buy boxes of stock again. if you want to do chicken stock you can just throw all your chicken bones in your freezer bag with the veggies too!