Vegetable stock is a great way to infuse flavor into recipes. But, at $2-3 a box, it can eat up your grocery budget. Especially, when most recipes call for several cups of stock. Well, I’m going to show you how I have plenty of vegetable stock on hand, for free. Yes, free. I can cross that off my grocery list FOR GOOD.
I keep a large plastic bag in my freezer (I usually reuse a ziploc or bread/produce bag with a twisty tie). I pull it out when I start cooking. Here’s why. When I’m chopping veggies for whatever meal I’m making, I put the trimmings in the bag. Ends and outer layers of onion, ends of carrots & zucchini, tops of bell peppers, ends of green onions, the list goes on and on. You name it, it goes in. (I don’t add nasty, spoiled bits. Ew.)
The bag stays in the freezer until it’s full.
When it’s full
It’s Veggie Stock Making Time!
What you’ll need:
- Crockpot or large pot for stove
- An extra pot for straining
- Large colander
- Fine mesh strainer
- Several glass jars with lids (or, you can use the tall plastic, sturdy to go containers)
First, throw all your frozen veggie bits into a big pot on the stove or a large crockpot. I use a crockpot, because I can put it on medium-low, toss the lid on and forget about it. Fill the pot with water, covering the veggie bits with a few inches of water. For a crockpot, turn on medium-low and put the lid on. You can let it cook about 4-6 hours. For a pot on the stove, turn the heat on high until it comes to a boil. Then, reduce heat to simmer. Let it cook for 2 hours.
When it’s done cooking, it’s time to strain and put in your containers for storage. If you have a giant fine mesh strainer, more power to you! I have a small one, so I use my giant colander to remove the big chunks, then the fine mesh strainer to get the rest. So, I strain it twice.
Put your colander over an empty large pot in the sink. Carefully pour your veggie stock & veggie bits into the colander. The large pot will catch all the stocky goodness. Remove colander and discard veggie bits after they’ve cooled.
Rinse the pot you used to make the stock. Then, put your fine mesh strainer over the pot. Pour your veggie stock over the fine mesh strainer to get the little bits out. Alternatively, if you’re well coordinated, you can do this second straining while simultaneously funneling the stock into your containers. Just rest your funnel on top of the jar, then hold the strainer on top of the funnel with your left hand and ladle the stock with your right hand.
Now, you just need to funnel the stock into your containers! I store most of the jars in the freezer (so, don’t fill them too high!) and keep one or two in the frig for use throughout the week. Sometimes, I’ll freeze the stock in ice cubes for little bits to throw in recipes. Straining and filling usually takes me about 15 minutes.
I usually get 6-8 jars of stock from one bag of leftover [FREE] veggie bits. And, the jars I use are usually from Kirkland’s canned peaches (they are the best jars!). So, I spent nothing for $20 worth of vegetable stock. To top it off, I know exactly what’s in it!