How to make your own vegetable broth out of food scraps


Because I do not compost in my apartment, I have started saving my vegetable scraps from cooking in the freezer in a reusable freezer-safe bag (I’m always trying to reduce my plastic waste in the kitchen, even though they can be a pain to clean).

It may seem silly to store food waste, but I bring new life from the discarded bits of my favorite vegetables and herbs by simmering them into a tasty broth.

Making my own vegetable broth helps me save money on groceries and add an extra-rich, homemade flavor to soups and stews (or, if I’m being honest, my favorite wild mushroom risotto).

A bag and a jar filled with frozen vegetable scraps to be used for broth or stock. | Photo by Sam Schipani

Almost all your vegetable kitchen scraps can go into this broth: onion tops, bottoms and skins; green onion scraps, if you aren’t regrowing them; garlic skins; mushroom stems; celery tops and bottoms; and potato skins (though blogger Jessica in the Kitchen warns that potatoes can make broth look cloudy).

You can also add sweet vegetables like corn, squash, fennel, chard, lettuce, parsnips, green beans, pea pods, peppers, eggplant and asparagus. Vegetable tops like beet greens, carrot tops and the various stem and leaf scraps of herbs like dill, thyme, parsley, cilantro and basil also help add flavor to your broth. Avoid Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower though — they will add a bitter taste to your broth.

Vegetable scraps can stay frozen for up to six months before you use them. Be sure all your vegetable scraps are clean and free of mold before you freeze them so you do not have a dirty, moldy broth.

Photo by Sam Schipani

Seasonings like salt, pepper and bay leaves can also be added to your broth to enhance the flavor.

Vegetable Broth Recipe

Preparing vegetable broth using frozen vegetable scraps. | Photo by Sam Schipani


  • 3-4 cups frozen vegetable scraps, or about one full gallon-sized freezer bag
  • 10-12 cups water
  • Salt, peppercorns and bay leaves (optional)

Special tools:

  • Large pot
  • Water, between 10 and 12 cups
  • Mesh strainer or cheesecloth


  1. Dump the freezer bag filled with frozen vegetables into the pot.
  2. Fill about three-quarters of the pot with water, until the scraps just start to float.
  3. Place pot filled with vegetables and water on burner and bring to a boil. If desired, add salt, peppercorns and bay leaves to taste (I use about 2 tablespoons of salt, about 10 whole peppercorns and 2 bay leaves).
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until broth is fragrant and the vegetable scraps have softened.
  5. Strain vegetable material out of the broth.
  6. Store liquid broth in mason jars in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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