HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
This is the number one question I get when people hear that I make my own vegetable broth. It is, without question, the number one reason my soups, stews, braised foods in general taste amazing (if I do say so myself). I found the basic recipe in a cookbook I picked up in Ireland. Or rather, the idea of how to do it is based upon a recipe I found in that book. I can’t even really say that I use a “recipe” (or that I am going to do a very good job of writing one here) … but I do have a method that I follow each and every time. The results have never let me down.
So here’s what you need to do in order to get started: save all your vegetable pieces. The skins from onions and garlic, the ends of carrots, leeks, scallions, peels from potatoes, parsnips, turnips, pepper tops and innards, wilted salad greens, broccoli and cauliflower stems, tomato pieces or wrinkled grape tomatoes … save it all! I keep gallon sized freezer bags on hand and when I finish prepping vegetables, or notice them starting to lose their freshness, I toss them in the bag and throw it in the freezer. When I fill up a bag, I grab another and when I have accumulated 4 or 5 bags, I make a date with my stove.
I also have on hand 2 water bath canning pots. You know, the massively big blue pots that bring back images of grandma in the kitchen? I use one for canning and one for cooking … specifically, broths. When I have enough frozen veggie pieces, I empty them into the large blue pot, fill it with water, add sea salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, stir it all together and turn the heat on medium. I stir it whenever I happen to notice it bubbling away and when I get a good rolling boil, I turn it down and let it simmer, with the lid off. If too much water evaporates away, I add a bit more and just keep it going.
After several hours, when the vegetables are nothing but a big pile of mush, I use a slotted spoon and move them into a colander (set in another pot or a bowl) to drain. After all of the veggies are cleared from the broth, I pour the extra drainage from the bowl (which was set under the colander) into the pot and boil again for a few hours. Finally, when the flavor has reached my preferred intensity, I turn off the stove and allow the broth to cool. I generally run the mixture through a cheesecloth one more time, to remove any small pieces still in the broth.
Now, if you happen to have a pressure canner, you can process the broth into jars and make it shelf stable. OR you can measure the cooled broth into freezer storage bags and place them in the freezer to be pulled out as needed. I would say 6 months is about as long as it should keep in the freezer, however, it never lasts long enough in my house to find out. I seriously use it for everything.
So, there you have it … a way to use all those useless, leftover bits of vegetables and end up with a flavorful broth that can be used in everything from soup to pasta. Oh, and add the vegetable mush to your compost pile. Talk about conserving resources!
After a day cooking broth, I feel like the most virtuous kitchen witch in history.