Monday, August 29, 2011

Homemade Vegetable Broth

For many years I purchased organic vegetable broths. These broths can run over $4 for about a quart of liquid. Many are high in sodium and even the ones labeled as "low sodium" have more sodium than I prefer to consume. I could have switched to a cheaper brand, but I would forgo the organic vegetables and gain filler ingredients. I'm not going to say which brand, but this is an ingredient list from a very popular vegetable broth label:
Vegetable Broth (Made from Water and Concentrated Juices of Celery, Celeriac, Onion, and Cabbage), Carrot Juice Contains Less than 2% of: Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Flavoring, Vegetables (Carrots, Onions, Celery), Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Sugar, Potato Flour, Citric Acid, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Soy Lecithin, Celery Extract (Soy Lecithin), Dehydrated Carrots.
I am not interested in the high fructose corn syrup, MSG, sugar, disodium guanylate, or disodium isonate. Last I heard vegetable broth just contained vegetables. I was also confused as to why the broth was made from juices rather than cooking down the vegetables. No, this is certainly not an option for me!

Then it dawned on me that I could make vegetable broth for FREE (well, besides the cost of the water). We have been composting for years and so it is no more work to set aside our vegetable tops, bottoms, and skins. I just save them in the fridge until I gather enough for a large pot. I keep out vegetables that I think will overpower the broth, such as beets. I love adding adding ginger root skins and lemon peel for added flavor! I do not add any salt to the broth.

Many of my friends have asked me to explain how I make my virtually free vegetable broth. Here it is!

Homemade Vegetable Broth
  • Tops, bottoms, and skins (enough to fill a large soup pot)
  • Water
  • Fresh or dried herbs (optional)
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
Place the tops/bottoms/skins in a large soup pot and fill with water just to cover the top of the vegetables. Place in herbs and bay leaves. Heat over medium high and bring to a boil. When the contents boil, turn down to a low simmer, and cover with a vented lid. If you don't have a vented lid, tilt the lid so that some of the steam can escape. Let the broth simmer for about 45 minutes. When 45 minutes is up, you will have a rich dark broth. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool. When cooled, strain and store. The broth will last about two weeks in the fridge. For a longer life, place in the freezer and defrost when needed. Don't forget to compost the strained vegetables!

And there you have it- virtually free and healthy vegetable broth! The broth will last about two weeks in the refrigerator or for several months in the freezer.

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