Making broth (soup stock) from food scraps is a simple way to save money and produce a tastier, healthier alternative to store-bought broth or bouillon cubes.
Making our own broth also leads to less waste - of both food and packaging. At the grocery store, broth is often sold in juice-box type packaging. Once the broth is used, we are stuck with the packaging. When you make your own broth, you can freeze it in reusable containers and there is no waste.
You can easily make broth yourself from scraps you would normally throw out. Your version will be more nutrient-dense and taste much better than store-bought products. This will provide the basis of many immune-boosting, healthy meals for you and your family without preservatives, sugars, oil, gums and things you can’t pronounce.
Why is chicken soup so often recommended for a cold or flu? It’s because of the broth, which is full of the nutrients from the veggies and boiled-down bones. Most store-bought broths aren’t made from the bones and therefore don’t contain the health benefits from the minerals and marrow breaking down into the liquid.
- Choose a designated bag or container for your scraps. Make sure to label it for each type of broth you will be making (i.e., vegetable, chicken, beef or seafood).
- As you make your daily meals, save any scraps that could be used for the broth. Put the scraps in the designated containers and keep them in the freezer. Broths containing meat bones also require veggies; for meat broths, aim for a ratio of half bones and half veggies. Carrots, onions and celery make up most of the veggies used in store-bought broth, but since you are making your own, use what you like and have. Do try to add these three key ingredients as they do contribute to making a great-flavoured broth.
- Each time you make a meal, add to your bag. Save vegetable scraps that you would normally throw away (stems, skins, cores), but don’t include anything that is moldy or has gone bad. Veggie scraps will change each season, but you can use onion skins, carrot peels, mushroom stems, pieces of tomato, peelings from parsnips, pepper cores, herb stems, etc. The contents of the bag might not look appetizing, but that’s okay.
- For non-vegetarian broth, add raw or cooked bones.
- Once your container is full, depending on how much you want to make, empty the contents of your container into a slow cooker. You could also do this on a stovetop or on a woodstove; I prefer the slow cooker so I don’t have to stick around. Fill the slow cooker with water until your frozen scraps are covered. At this time, I may add extra onions and garlic if I find I’m not satisfied with the amount already in my scraps. I also like to add seasonings like turmeric, bay leaves or extra dry herbs, depending on what I have planned for this batch of broth. I usually don’t add salt and pepper until I’m making a meal.
- Now you want to cook your broth. If you’re just doing a veggie broth, you can cook it on high for 6-8 hours. For a broth with bones, you really want to pull out all the marrow, so I try to cook mine anywhere from 12-24 hours.
- Once your broth has cooked for the suggested amount of time, turn off the heat, let it cool and strain it. If you’re doing a bone broth, don’t let it cool all the way as the marrow will start to gel and then it won’t go through the sieve. Once it is strained, pour it into containers and store in the freezer for later use. Don’t forget to label the containers.
Use this broth for making soup, cooking rice or other grains, or serve hot in a mug for a loved one with a cold or flu.