Homemade Vegetable Stock 101

Your response to my recent post on Homemade Substitutes for Grocery Staples was explosive, encouraging and thrilling. I’m excited that so many of you wish to move away from pre-packaged items and invest in making more pantry ingredients from scratch.

As the comments showed, plenty of you are already on this journey. You are discovering that self-sufficiency is the way of both the past AND the future and are reaping the rewards of home preserved food.

And so, I want to share another really quick, basic pantry staple – homemade vegetable stock. Making your own vegetable stock serves two main purposes: it uses kitchen scraps that might otherwise go into the garbage (or hopefully the compost) and it yields a fragrant broth that is suitable for a myriad of dishes.

Need another reason to make your own vegetable stock? How about to control the sodium content of your food? Added salt: not necessary.

What do I do with homemade stock?

These days a lot of people (myself included) are looking to turn regular repertoire dishes into vegetarian dishes. Katie talked about it recently and showed us how to turn family favorite recipes into meatless meals.

Her simple suggestion of replacing chicken stock with vegetable stock in a recipe is a smart way to eliminate animal products from a recipe – while retaining much of the original flavor.

I reach for vegetable stock for all of the following dishes:

  • Risotto & rice dishes
  • Soups, lentil stews & vegetable chowders
  • Pasta dishes & sauces

SOS: Save Our Scraps

A lot of everyday trimmings from food prep can go in a vegetable stock. If it is not rotten, toss it in!

  • mushroom stems & trimmings
  • onion skins, leek trim, garlic, green onion
  • carrots, celery, peppers, asparagus, broccoli stems, zucchini
  • Stems of herbs

TIP: Don’t have a pot of stock continuously on the back burner? Freeze scraps in an airtight container until you are ready to simmer a pot of stock.

Vegetable Stock: Two Methods

  • 4-6 cups of scraps
  • bay leaf
  • black peppercorn
  • clove of garlic

Method 1: The Quickie

  1. Add all ingredients to a 5 quart pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce temperature to medium and simmer stock for one hour.
  3. Follow directions for straining and storing below.

Method 2: The Flavor Booster

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss scraps and garlic lightly with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and place in a shallow roasting pan.
  2. Roast for 20-30 minutes (depending on size and variety of scraps) until caramelized, but not charred in any way.
  3. Transfer roasted vegetables to a large pot and cover with cold water. Add bay leaf and peppercorn and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce temperature to medium and simmer stock for one hour.
  5. Follow directions for straining and storing below.

Straining and Storing the Stock

Cool stock completely to lukewarm, then strain and discard (or compost) the solids.
Pour stock into clean jars, leaving a good half-inch of headspace. Cool completely in the refrigerator.
Freeze for up to three months or store up to five days in fridge.

What do you use vegetable-based stock for when you’re cooking?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I’m so glad you shared this simple how-to for vegetable stock. It’s so easy and doesn’t cost any additional money – and you know what’s going in your stock! We use scraps, as well as veggies that are about to go bad before we can enjoy them.

    We use stock almost daily. If we’re making rice or other grains, we use stock instead of water. To saute veggies or steam chicken, if I don’t have a bottle of white wine open, I’ll use stock.

    • Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says

      Gina – How do you saute veggies with vegetable stock?
      Since we started buying more local/organic meat, I’ve been diving into more vegetarian cooking in order to keep within our grocery budget. I usually make chicken broth, but I’ve also started whipping up vegetable broth now that we don’t have as many chickens in the freezer. Aimee, thanks for the flavor booster method – I’d never heard of it until now!

  2. Excellent! I have made my own stock before, but I get lazy and don’t do it often enough. These recipes look simple enough to do regularly…

  3. Thanks for a great topic. This is exactly the technique I use for veggie stock (in fact, I have a post coming soon on the topic, too!). I add a couple of bay leaves and dried mushrooms too. Those give an extra boost of flavor. I also sometimes add a piece of kombu seaweed. It has minerals you just can’t get anywhere else.

  4. Great post Aimee! I think it’s about time I started making my own vegetable stock.

  5. If you can this do you need a pressure cooker? I like the idea but I already have 10 jars of chicken broth in my freezer. I bought a water bath canner a couple of months ago, but I haven’t used it yet. This summer/fall will be my first year. I’m excited to have a lot of homemade things on my shelves this winter, even though I’m a bit nervous too.

    • I really just make it on a need-to-have basis. I don’t know of anyone who cans veg stock, but I imagine it’s possible. My guess would be pressure cooker, yes.

      • Gale Osborn says

        You are right, vegetable stock has to be pressure canned as it’s not an acid food. I would suggest 40 min for quarts and 35 for pints at 10 lbs pressure.

  6. Thank you! When my daughter is sick, we make “ABC Soup” which is just alphabet pasta made in veggie broth.

    We also boil most of our pasta in veggie broth. Getting a 2 1/2 year old to eat more vegetables than corn and peas has been a challenge, so to make sure she’s getting what she needs, we use this trick that I found in the Sneaky Chef.

    It is so hard to find the reduced sodium vegetable broth and it’s expensive – this is going to save me! Thanks again!

  7. I’ve never made vegetable stock before, though I make chicken stock fairly often (I currently have 8 jars of stock in my freezer from making it last week). Thanks for the recipes/tips. I’ll have to try it out sometime!

  8. The comment about freezing scraps until I’m ready to make the stock made the whole idea so much more feasible. Thanks Aimee!!

  9. This is the perfect first pressure canning project! (In fact, it was *my* first project!) Yes, you have to do it in a pressure canner (it’s low-acid), but it is sooo easy it’s ridiculous. A canner usually holds five quart jars and my stock pot makes five quarts of stock. Fabulous! And then I’m not taking up room in the freezer. 😉

  10. Thank you for this! Totally saving it for down the road. And I especially love the tip about freezing the extra bits and pieces that would otherwise get tossed in one manner or another. I honestly hadn’t thought to do that.

  11. Great post! I love seeing how other folks create their veggie broth.
    As another good flavor booster, instead of roasting the vegetables, I saute them in olive oil and add a few shakes of brewer’s yeast sprinkles. The yeast adds a lot of body if you’re low on “body building,” flavorful vegetables.

  12. I am glad that many of you younger people are getting into making your own groceries. This is what I have done for many years. I am a new blogger and am also posting about Making Your Own Groceries. You might find my post about Cream Soup Mix helpful. http://awell-seasonedkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-it-yourself-groceries-cream-soup-mix.html. Vegetable stock would be a good substitute for the water giving the made-up mix added nutrients

  13. Can you freeze in those glass jars?

  14. thank you for this information! but i wanted to ask something about this:
    “Freeze for up to three months or store up to five days in fridge.”
    – if im freezing it, it doesnt lose its vitamins???

  15. Great post! I used to be adamant about making my own stock. I love using veggie stock for couscous and risottos.

  16. This stock looks so nice and rich! Thanks for the great tips. Just found your blog and although I should be starting dinner right now, I can’t seem to stop clicking through!

  17. I love the flavor booster suggestion, what a great way to make stock! I’ll have to try that next time.

  18. Mmm…I also love the flavour booster method. Great tip.

  19. I’ll have to admit that I never thought about how to make vegetable stock! This is an awesome idea that I will definitely keep in mind!

  20. Thanks for the extra tips. I have a bag of scraps growing in my freezer right now.

  21. Can’t wait to try this recipe, Aimee. I’m big on making my own chicken and beef stocks but have yet to try my hand at vegetable. Bookmarked this! Thanks!!!

  22. Question: how do you defrost the stock if it’s in glass? You can’t microwave it correct? I want to move away from plastic but wasn’t sure how it would work.

    thanks for the recipe. I’ve been making chicken stock from scratch this year but I’ve never tried vegetable. I love the Imagine no-chicken stock so much I hadn’t motivated but now I will!

  23. How about artichoke leaves, would you use them too?

  24. Great post! I’m a recent convert to veggie stock making and I just love the stuff. My freezer usually contains lots of ziploc bags full of herb stems and veggie scraps. 🙂

    I freeze my homemade veggie stock in ice-cube bags (I use a funnel and a ladle to fill them) because once they’re frozen, the bags squeeze easily into the nooks and crannies in my horribly small freezer. I did a test fill to check how much the bags hold, so now when a recipe calls for a certain amount of stock, I just pop in the appropriate number of stock ice-cubes.

  25. This is the best recipe for vegetable broth that I have seen. I never knew why mine sometimes turned out bitter. Now I know I was overcooking the vegetables. It really does make a difference. Thank you so much.

  26. fantastic! I have never made veggie broth before, I dont know why, I guess I just always make chicken. Saving the scraps is such a great idea.

  27. Wow this really is a great post. My mom used to make something like this only that it is from different kind of fruits such as apple, grapes, pineapple and many more. This will encourage more people and even kids to eat veggies no matter how much they don’t like to. Thanks for sharing this one… i don’t like to eat veggies but i guess i will try this one. Can’t wait to share it to my friends.

  28. Thank you so much for posting this. I keep meaning to do this, but when I’m in the rush to get dinner on the table I always forget. I’ll need to stay on top of things and at least toss stuff into the freezer.

  29. Included this great idea in my Friday Finds post and shared it at Finding Joy in My Kitchen today.

  30. This is so fabulous! Why have I not done this yet? I am bookmarking this one!

  31. So you freeze it in glass jars and don’t have a problem with glass breaking? I’m scared to try it, but I’d love to not use plastic baggies anymore. 🙂

  32. What a timely post. My boyfriend and I decided to try going vegetarian for a month, this is day two!
    I’m currently roasting some veggies in the oven and decided to use the scraps to make a broth, including the peel of sweet potatoes.
    And while all this was cooking, I made myself a salad for lunch, and decided to throw the tomato bits and cucumber peel into the stock …. I hope it doesn’t ruin it. I can see the cucumber flavour being overpowering.

  33. Great idea! I definitely want to try this. Stock is one of those ingredients that is too expensive when looking for the low-sodium variety…plus I never seem to use the amount in the cans, which can lead to waste. (Sorry I’ve been so absent lately, Aimee! We have a new sheltie puppy who’s been taking up my time. You didn’t loose a reader!)

    • By the way, I’m making this again this morning and my kitchen smells wonderful. I’m ready to ditch my dinner plans and make some veggie soup with my fresh stock! 😉

  34. In follow-up to Andrew’s comment above about his stock being bitter – I tend to cook mine a while, as well; sometimes longer than two hours. However, I’ve not had the bitterness from the length of the cooking time, but it can come from some of the ingredients used. Many times, I have read that sulfur-containing veggies can give broths and stocks an off-taste – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. I lean toward leaving them out of the stock phase, but putting the veggie parts in the final soup/stew. The trims end up in the compost pile or are given over to my worm farm – still no waste.

  35. Sarah Glaser says

    Aimee – I just stumbled across this post looking for tips on having a continuous pot of stock going. I noticed you commented on this option in your Tip. Ages ago I knew a man of senior age from the Netherlands. He always had a small pot on the back of his stove in which he tossed his scraps. I’ve always wanted to do this, and he’s not around anymore to ask how to do it. Does the pot go in the fridge when the heat isn’t on? Surely you don’t just keep the heat on constantly. If you have any suggestions for how to do this, I’d much appreciate it. Is there a time limit on how long a person can let a pot go?

  36. Thank you for sharing this easy technique. I get all giddy when I find ways to cut down my waste in the kitchen. I have been making veggie stock this way for a few months and it is soooo handy and simple! I use it for all sorts of things now and usually replace chicken stock with the veg since I have it on hand and it’s fresh. I mentioned your technique in my post about Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup on Cooking Ripe! Thanks for your recipe! Loved the addition of sweet potato. I used it as inspiration for my carrot and sweet potato soup posted on Cooking Ripe!

  37. I have no idea why i never thought to save scraps and make stock. I recently saw a blog on the Bountiful Baskets website and since i have recently started using the co-op to get a better deal and fresher fruits and veggies i though i should give this a try. My question is pertaining to ingredients that might make stock taste bitter. I have a bunch of veins and stems from collard greens in my bag of frozen scraps….should i leave these out of the stock? I would hate to end of with a huge batch of bitter stock!

  38. Hi, i am currently pregnant and will give birth ina few weeks, thinking that when baby will eb 6 i will need to give it food reach in ingredients and as safe as possible i was thinking that i should start making my own stock… so i came across this and loved it. You make it look so easy… The only problem for me was being only me and my husband we dont consume as many vegetables but knowing that i can freeze the scrap until i have enough is great 🙂
    Do you have a chicken stock recipe as well? Thats the main ones i use, chicken and vegetable…
    Thanks 🙂

  39. <3 loved the post. I am going to feature your image on my blog (& of course linking it for you) If you're not comfortable with that please email me & I will take it down.

    <3 Nameste

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