Vegetable broth is as comforting as chicken soup on a cold winter day, and making your own from scraps you’ve collected is easy, healthy, cost-effective, and reduces food waste. Here’s how.
As we trudge through flu and cold season, making your own broth is the perfect kitchen hack to help boost immunity and soothe symptoms. With a little planning ahead (and some freezer space), the “Ugly Bag” of broth will surely be a delicious addition to your culinary repertoire. This big bag of stuff might not look all that tasty (hence its name), but this humble bag of kitchen scraps is more than the sum of its parts.
Regardless of how much you cook, you are likely to generate some produce waste. The good news is, all of those carrot peels, garlic skins, or ends of the onion have a much more palatable purpose than in the bottom of your trash or compost bin. (Check out what other peels you can save and what to do with them.) In fact, some of the most nutritious and flavorful part of your veggies are in the scraps. Rather than tossing your vegetable scraps you can turn them into a tasty, nutritious broth instead.
What is an “ugly Broth Bag?”
The term, coined by RuralSprout refers to a zip top bag that hangs out in your freezer. Every time you have a leftover vegetable trimmings, place them in the bag, zip it up, and store it back in the freezer until you fill it up. When your ugly bag is filled, it’s time to make broth.
Start by taking two one-gallon zip-top freezer storage bags. (Double bag for added protection–no one wants a spill.) You can also use the reusable, stand-up silicone zip bags. Whenever you cook with vegetables, pull out the bag and toss the leftovers in.
Vegetables that have been hanging out in your crisper drawer or counter for too long and are past their prime can also be added to your bag. Limp or less than fresh vegetables are good to use, however save the rotten ones for the compost – no one wants to sip of rotten onions.
Best Vegetables Scraps for Broth
What vegetables can you toss into your bag? While your ugly bag of broth is a smorgasbord of healthy, but unwanted goodness, not everything can get tossed into your broth. The most common additions are:
- Onions – skins and leftovers
- Garlic – skins and leftover
- Carrots – peels and whole
- Celery tops and bottoms
- Mushroom stems
- Scallion tops
- Turnip Peels
- Herb Stems
Be sure your vegetables are free of rot and dirt. You can get creative and test out new flavors by adding various vegetables, some are generally omitted. Cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli and cauliflower can make your broth bitter (and a bit gassy). Bitter and tender greens, as well as peppers, can overwhelm the flavor of your stock. Potatoes also tend to soak up flavor, rather than release it, and can make your broth cloudy.
How To use Your Scraps
When your Ugly broth bag is filled, grab it from the freezer and dump it in a stockpot. Add enough water to cover the frozen vegetables plus an inch or two. Season with herbs, garlic, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to give your broth an extra pop of flavor.
Cover and bring to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered on the stove for at least an hour or more depending on how dark you want your broth. You can also throw it in your slow cooker, set on low, and let it simmer all day.
Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for two to three days or in the freezer.
Use your flavorful stock as a base for a soup, sauce, rice, a liquid medium for a braise, or just simply warm and sip plain.
Don’t toss the bag unless there are holes in it. The goal here is to make less wasted. Simply place the used bag back in the freezer and fill it back up.
Turning kitchen scraps into a stock is not only cost effective, but it is also nutritious. Considering how easy the broth bag technique is, the added benefits make it a no-brainer.
Natalie LaVolpe is a freelance writer and former special education teacher. She is dedicated to healthy living through body and mind. She currently resides on Long Island, New York, with her husband, children, and dog.