Don’t throw out those vegetable trimmings! A lot of veggie scraps that are typically discarded can be used to make a rich vegetable stock instead. You can use your homemade veggie broth to add an extra layer of flavor to soups, stews, sauces, and casseroles. Don’t miss out on this EASY crockpot recipe! We’re going to put all those carrot and onion tops, celery leaves, herb stems, and so on to good use.
In the autumn and winter, I make a lot of bone broth from chicken, turkey, and other animal bones. However, I don’t tend to roast a lot of whole chickens in the summer. This means I don’t have the bones needed to make bone broth.
Even so, I don’t generally need to resort to purchasing stocks and broths. I have a solution that helps prevent food waste and helps save on our grocery bill.
Additionally, it is so simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t thought of it before. (Assuming that you aren’t already doing this, that is.)
What we’re doing is taking the trimmings from our abundant seasonal veggies and making them into a vegetable stock. A slow cooker is the perfect piece of equipment for the job. It makes the process almost entirely hands-off and doesn’t require heating up the house.
See, I told you this was going to be easy! Why waste money on store-bought vegetable stock when you can make it for (practically) free?
Stock versus broth, what’s the difference?
Many people use the terms “stock” and “broth” interchangeably, and that is also what I am going to do here. That said, there is a distinction that can be made between these two terms. At least in some circles, they are not wholly synonymous with each other.
Stock is made from mostly bones, while broth is typically made from vegetables and meat simmered in water. What we call “bone broth” tends to be a hybrid of stock and broth. However, vegetable stock and broth are pretty much one and the same, since no bones tend to be involved at all.
Of course, if you happen to have some animal bones on hand, it’s fine to include them in your veggie stock. I had some chicken feet that I added to the slow cooker for a little collagen boost. You could also add salt, pepper, or other spices as desired.
What should I use in my vegetable stock?
Do you see all of those beautiful, whole veggies in the photos above? Those are not what you want to use in your vegetable stock. Save whole veggies for your recipes.
What you want are the parts of the veggies that you were going to throw away. This may include the following:
- Carrot peelings
- Parsley and cilantro stems, as well as the stems and wilted leaves of other herbs
- Trimmings from onion, shallot, and leek tops and root ends
- Those bits of pepper and tomato that are stuck to the stem after chopping
- Carrot, parsnip, and turnip tops
- Celery leaves
- Mushroom stems (not a veggie, I know)
- Bits trimmed from the ends of garlic cloves
- Wilted green leafy veggies (though I recommend skipping bitter greens)
Many of these things are actually fine to use in recipes. To give two examples, celery leaves make a nice substitute for parsley, and cilantro stems are a very flavorful part of the plant! However, if you were going to throw them out anyway, better to incorporate them into a broth.
Obviously, you do not want to use moldy veggies for this, though some wilting or bruising is fine. Use your good judgment about what should or should not go into the crockpot. You may have some veggie trimmings on hand that are not listed above that would be terrific additions.
I don’t tend to use starchy veggies to make vegetable broth. Also, I recommend going light on your use of strong-tasting cruciferous veggies like cabbage.
I used cabbage leaves in one of my stocks once, and the whole house ended up smelling like the veggie while it cooked! My family did not appreciate this so much, particularly since it cooks for 24 hours.
Tips for making your homemade vegetable broth
When you roast a whole chicken, you’ll have enough bones right away to use to make stock. When you make a meal with veggies, however, you probably won’t have enough trimmings to make vegetable stock. You’ll likely need to save your veggie trimmings from several meals to get enough.
My solution to this is to save the trimmings in a gallon-size freezer bag in the freezer. I add more trimmings each time I cook. When the bag is full, it’s time to make veggie stock.
I use a Crock-Pot SVC700-B, an oval slow cooker with a 7-quart capacity. If your crockpot has a smaller capacity, you’ll have to make stock with fewer trimmings.
Cheesecloth will be helpful to strain all the small bits out of the stock. I use Olicity Cheesecloth, which can be washed and reused without falling apart. The finished veggie broth can be frozen in large ice cube trays and stored in freezer bags in the freezer.
The great thing about making your own stock is that you can tailor it exactly as you want it. Control the strength of flavor with the cooking time and amount of water used. I usually feel veggie broths tend to be too weak, so I maximize cooking time and veggies used.
If you feel your veggie broth is a bit bitter, shift the veggie trimmings that you use and shorten the cooking time. For weak broths, add less water and cook longer. For lower sodium broths, you can (you guessed it) skip the salt.
My vegetable stock is always dark brown because of the large assortment of colorful veggie trimmings used. If you’d rather have a lighter broth, omit items like red onions that add a lot of
One last tip!
Don’t be afraid to make this your own. I’ve seen vegetable stock recipes that simmer the trimmings for a mere 30 minutes. I go a full 24 hours to maximize the flavors.
You know you’ve got it right when you and your family like the flavors you’ve created. That tends to be the true test of a recipe’s success!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let’s get cooking!
Vegetable Stock – Make Your Own Homemade Veggie Broth
- 1 gallon bag frozen vegetable trimmings (about 4 L; see post above for suggestions on what to include)
- 12-15 cups water
- 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Note: This recipe fits a 7-quart (6.6 L) slow cooker. If you have a smaller crockpot, you may need to use less water and fewer veggie trimmings.
- Once you've collected sufficient veggie trimmings, put them in your slow cooker with the water and apple cider vinegar. You are also welcome to add additional spices or bones (if desired). I added a few chicken feet to this batch. Make sure you use enough water to fully submerge the vegetables.
- Put the lid on your slow cooker, set it to low, and let it cook for 24 hours. You can skim off any scum that rises to the top of the pot during the cooking period.
- After cooking, put a large colander over a large bowl. Line the colander with a layer of cheesecloth. Strain the stock through the cloth so that it collects in the bowl. Discard the vegetable trimmings.
- Let the stock cool. If it will be used within a couple of days, you can store it in glass canning jars in the refrigerator.
- Any stock that will not be used within a couple of days should be frozen. Pour it into cocktail ice cube trays and place the trays in the freezer. After freezing, remove the cubes from the trays and store in freezer bags.
Do you make your own vegetable stock? If so, what are some of your favorite veggies to use? Do you prefer to use a stovetop, slow cooker, or Instant pot for homemade vegetable broth?
P.S. If you didn’t know that the green peppers in the pictures at the top are Padron peppers, consider getting on my email list! Lately, I’ve been sharing a fun food find each week. You might be inspired to try some tasty new-to-you foods!