It’s so tempting to call this “crap stock” because I’m bratty, but we’ll stick with Vegetable Scrap Stock.
This is one of the best, most economical tricks I’ve learned in my decade of experience as a semi-professional broke person. Vegetable Scrap Stock can turn true broke food into some really delicious and special, while adding a really good amount of nutrition to your plate or bowl! On top of that, it reduces food waste by a huge percentage and saves you a ton of money in the long run. That’s one powerful recipe.
It’s the equivalent of planting vegetable stock in your yard and harvesting two quarts of it from it from it every week. Forever. Even through the coldest of cold winter months, you’re harvesting that veggie stock.
Vegetable Scrap Stock Tips
There are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that have served me well, and saved me some anguish. Give them a try, and you may find yourself building a routine around making veggie stock!
How much you make is up to you – I usually say a gallon bag makes a gallon of stock – but I’m optimistic. If you only have half a bag – make half a gallon! That’s four pints, or eight cups – that’s an awful lot of quinoa and rice or one nice batch of soup!
Gallon bag -> freezer: This is the best, most obvious trick to this whole thing. Use a gallon plastic bag and keep it in your freezer. After each prepared meal, add your scraps to the bag – voila! You’re almost ready to make stock.
Mushroom stems: Some people use them in their daily cooking, some people don’t. Sometimes, it depends on the recipe! If you usually chuck ’em, or you’ve made stuffed mushrooms recently, keep the stems! They have glutamic acid, which is a major flavor-booster and can give your stock a deeper, umami flavor.
Tomatoes: If you slice off the stem end of your tomatoes – keep those! I was shocked the first time I added tomatoes to my stock, not only does it make the color gorgeous, but it adds a fresh bite to basic stock. Frozen tomatoes seem to do just fine, but if you have some fresh ones that need to get used, they’d be great in this stock.
Chop small: The more surface area you get out of your vegetables, the more flavor you’ll be able to extract! You can toy around with sizing and flavor. Maybe you want a stronger onion flavor, but a less strong bell pepper flavor, so finely dice the onions and leave the pepper pieces larger.
Herb carefully: Strong, distinct herbs like thyme and cilantro should be used with caution! It’s an excellent idea to add some – particularly the unused stems of herbs, for maximum efficiency! – but you can easily overpower a stock with a handful of herbs. I wouldn’t add more than a handful of fresh or frozen herb stems, or about a tablespoon of dried herbs.
Cook it down, or don’t: The amount of time that you cook the veggies together will determine the flavor concentration of your stock. I like to let mine cook down and reduce for a more flavorful stock. It produces a little bit less in volume, but makes up for it in taste!
On that note, some of my favorite things to use this stock for are:
- Veggie version of this pad thai
- Stir fry
That being said, it’s always been a dream of mine to get so good at making veggie stock that I can tailor a stock to the dish it’ll be used in, and tinker around with flavor combinations! I encourage everyone to do the same because how does that not sound like the most fun ever?
Veggie Scrap Stock
Makes about a gallon
Use what you have! Don’t stress about matching this vague ingredient list exactly – just rifle through your fridge and dig out frozen scraps from your freezer.
Gallon bag of veggie scraps (from the freezer, or fresh)
1 tbsp. neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola)
About 1 onion
About 1 carrot
About 1 stalk of celery
About 1 tomato
About a gallon of water
1. Chop your onion, carrot, celery, and tomato into small pieces. Roughly chop your garlic into large chunks. Heat a stock pot on medium until hot, and add the oil, followed by the chopped vegetables.
2. Saute until they start to get soft, at which point, add the bag of vegetable scraps. It will make a big sound, so stir everything around to ensure that everything is coated in the remaining oil.
3. Once your scraps begin to thaw and soften, add your desired amount of water. (It won’t reduce very much while cooking, so what you put in is going to be pretty close to what you get out.)
4. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to low/medium-low to simmer for about 45 minutes. Check on it occasionally and make sure it’s still simmering.
5. Place a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. (You may also line the strainer with cheesecloth if you want a clearer stock.) Use a large ladle or measuring cup to transfer the stock from the pot into the strainer. Continue in batches until you have to dump the contents of the pot into the strainer to get the last remaining stock.
6. Let the stock cool and transfer it to mason jars, BPA-free plastic containers, ice cube trays or gallon freezer bags to preserve.
Cook down the carrot, celery & onion in oil.
Add frozen veggie scraps.
Add cold water to the stock pot.
Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. It won’t be cute.
Place a fine mesh strainer in a large mixing bowl. (Cheesecloth optional.)
Use a measuring cup to carefully ladle the stock into the strainer.
Cheesecloth will give you a clearer broth, but going without is just as good.
Strain in batches, pressing the vegetables in the strainer to extract any flavor left over.
Wait for it to cool before packing into containers.
As far as types of veggies to use – it’s pretty wide open. I think my stock had corn cobs, asparagus ends, kale ribs, mushroom stems, pepper tops, onion ends, carrot tops, tomato cores… There’s very little that doesn’t work in here! How about this – if you can put it in a soup, you can put it in a stock. Parsnip trimmings? Yes. Cucumber peels? Maybe not. Broccoli stems? Yes! Strawberry hulls? No. See where I’m going with this?
This is truly one of the most inexpensive recipes ever, and it benefits you in more ways than just your pocketbook. I like to freeze mine in large silicone ice cube trays, then pack them all in a gallon freezer bag. Each of the large ice cube reservoirs is 3 oz., between 1/3 and 1/2 of a cup, so I use that as a measurement.