A few months ago I saw one of those iffy “do it yourself” videos online. It claimed you could make vegetable stock out of veggie scraps. It didn’t give any specifications on what type of veggies you could use… So I took it at its word and saved veggie scraps in my freezer for two weeks until I had enough to make stock. The stock turned out absolutely beautiful, and absolutely disgusting. Seriously, it was incredibly bitter. I’ll give you a hint, NEVER include zucchini in veggie stock. So I did what I should have done first; research!
Armed with knowledge I made another batch of vegetable stock still using only veggie scraps. It was wonderful! It made enough to use in soups and sauces and casseroles for about two weeks and it made a huge difference in flavor. Now I love making homemade vegetable stock and including it in my cooking. I keep a gallon ziplock bag in my freezer and fill it up with veggie scraps for about two weeks before I have enough to make stock.
This is a great way to use vegetable scraps that you otherwise would throw away and waste. However, if a vegetable has clearly gone bad, just throw it away! A tomato that is a little wrinkly is fine. A tomato that has gone squishy or moldy is not. Always make sure the vegetables are cleaned properly. Vegetable stock flavored with dirt is not the goal. My last tip is to leave out papery onion skins. This is something I figured out through trial and error. When I included the papery onion skins, my stock always had a tiny bit of a bitter aftertaste.
To spare you the trial and error and several hours of research I endured before I figured out what should go into homemade vegetable stock (and what should not), I’ve made a quick reference guide. A general rule is that the body of your stock should be made of onions, carrots, and celery (in roughly equal proportions). And I always include garlic as well. As long as those are the main ingredients, you can add other things like tomatoes, mushrooms, and herbs.
Homemade Vegetable Stock
- 1 ziplock gallon bag vegetable scraps (see my graph on what vegetables to use and which to avoid)
- water to cover the vegetable scraps
- Place vegetable scraps into a large pot. Cover with water.
- Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low cover. Let it simmer for 1 hour.
- Strain with a colander and/or cheese cloth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.