Friday, April 25, 2014

Make your own vegetable broth from scraps and trimmings - save money, eat healthier

Many families find themselves tightening up their grocery budgets more than ever, but do not want to eat a lot of processed or canned foods. One way to save money and avoid highly processed or high sodium foods is to make your own vegetable broth from trimmings and scraps.
Vegetable broth made from trimmings, scraps and peelings
Save all the vegetable peelings you have from vegetable preparation, like peeling carrots or trimming up celery or zucchini, squash, tomatoes, onions, etc. Vegetables like cucumbers or lettuce do not work, so do not bother with those vegetable trimmings. Some people do not like to use trimmings from cabbage or Brussels sprouts or broccoli because it makes the broth too "gassy" but I've used them with no problems.
I use vegetable broth to make a variety of soups and I also use it in a variety of recipes. One of my favorite soups is a very cheap and easy soup to make -- white bean soup. Here's a link to the recipe for the white bean soup
White bean soup made with vegetable broth
Some people use a pressure cooker to make the vegetable broth, but I do not have a pressure cooker and I do not want one. I used to use my old crock pot, but the temperature gauge on that one wasn't working right so I had to get rid of it (it was about 15 years old!). Then I used my good crock pot but I gave that to my son when he went back to Indiana after his dad died. Now I just use this crappy Paula Dean stock pot that isn't good for anything else (Good thing I only paid $8 for it!).

I store all the veggies trimmings in the freezer in bags. Save more money – use the plastic grocery bags or plastic bags you use to in the produce department. Even the bag that carrots or celery come in will work. When I have enough put all the trimmings and scraps in the pot straight out of the freezer and cover with water. If you use the crock pot set it on high for the first hour then reduce it to low and let it "cook" overnight - about 8 to 10 hours.

If you use a stock pot -- I think mine is 6 to 8 quarts -- I add the vegetable scraps and trimmings and water, get it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 4 hours. You may have to use a slotted spoon to push the trimmings down a few times. I cover it the last couple hours and simmer on medium low.
The color of the broth will vary based on what veggie trimmings you put in. I notice I get a deeper color when I have a lot of carrot peelings.

That's about it! I strain it with the mesh strainer in the colander just to make sure any seeds from bell peppers don't slip through, but you don't NEED to do that! I measure the broth out into good zip locking bags -- about 2 to 3 cups per bag -- label and date. I make sure they're zipped tight and lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and then put that in the freezer until they're frozen solid. They're easier to stack when they're flat like that.

Another great way to store some of the vegetable broth is freeze it in ice cube trays. When its frozen solid, pop them out and put a few in small zip locking bags, label and date and then you can use one or two at a time in recipes. These are really good to use when pan cooking chicken or pork chops – use it instead of butter or oil.

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