Don’t Trash It: Homemade Scrap-Bag Vegetable Stock

All about how to make homemade vegetable stock or broth from months of saved veggie scraps.

You know how people either composted their vegetable scraps or threw them in the trash?  I’ve got a much better and tastier idea:  Scrap-Bag stock, made from said scraps.  The best parts are that

a) it’s pretty much free,  and

b) you don’t have to make any effort at all in buying the “correct” assortment of veggies, because it doesn’t really matter what you use (to a point….more on that later).

I’ve always found store-bought vegetable stock to be…lacking.  It just doesn’t taste like anything much, except sometimes maybe tomatoes. And I rarely want to cook with a tomato-based broth.  I like something a little more clear and flavorful, tinged with onions or something, because I use my stock as a soup base, to cook rice in, or for sauces.

The beauty of scrap bag stock is that you get flavors from bygone seasons, as you’ll generally only make this 2-4 times a year.  So that farmers’ market spring garlic, asparagus, cilantro, zucchini, etc that you bought can enjoy a little Renaissance  later on.  And you don’t have to read the label on a carton of stock

at the store to see if some brilliant manufacture decided to add glutinous seasonings to it:  you KNOW your stock will be gluten-free!

My well-used bag of veggie cutting scraps, all bulging and ready to become stock!

All you do is collect your veggie scraps in a two-quart plastic ziplock bag in your freezer, and boil them/simmer for several hours when it’s full. Since boiled veggies, we’ve always been told by mom, “lose all their nutrition into the water”, we can give ourselves a big high-five, because all we’re looking to harvest here is the water itself.

When you are prepping your veggies for whatever meal you’re making, wash and cut like normal, and put the crap that you’re not going to eat in the freezer bag and back into the freezer. No biggie. And provided that it’s not rotten or moldy. (But I didn’t need to tell you that…please tell me that you knew that part already!) That’s it. Not exactly a haute cuisine prep step.

Now as I mentioned earlier, you can use MOST veggies for this, but not all. Some veggies will be too strong flavored or spicy and take over the flavor of your whole stock, leaving you with something for your efforts that you won’t want to use.  Here is a list of the kinds of veggies to NOT put in your scrap bag:  turnips, broccoli, cauliflower parsnips, jalepeños, habaneros, etc. You want your stock to be complex and yummy and savory, not club you over the head with one gross unpleasant flavor.

So without further adieu….



  • 2 quarts of frozen random saved vegetable scraps
  • 18-20 cups of water.
  • Salt if you want


  • Huge Dutch oven or stockpot
  • big bowl
  • fine large strainer
  • ladel
  • large measuring cup
  • 8  x “Medium” ziplock freezer bags


  1.  Fill up your pot with the water

    I always find the scrap bag veggies look so pretty when they’re first dumped in!
  2. Dump your Scrap Bag contents into it, and put the lid on.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a whole bunch of hours, say between 3-5 hours. Keep it covered so that your broth doesn’t evaporate.
  4. Turn off heat and let cool. Your whole house wil smell yummy, like you actually combined the veggies for this liquid magic on purpose.

    The strained broth has such a pretty color.
  5. Strain the stock into the big bowl.  You now have a beautiful veggie broth.
  6. Add the salt to taste if you want a pre-made salted stock.image
  7. Pour a 2-cup measure into each ziplock bag, and push out the air, sealing while standing up. (This is because some people like to freeze their liquids flat, and store them like little file cards. Others like to freeze standing up for a more compact frozen broth, which will fit easily while frozen even into small saucepans without the “edges” melting over the sides like the frozen file card method may). You should get eight or more two-cup bags of veggie stock.

And there you go: perfectly proportioned, nutritionally-charged broth packs to cook a cup of rice, half a cup of risotto, or any recipe that calls for “two cups of stock” (which seems to be pretty much all of them) .  And all it cost you was about 10 minutes of working time, and a little gas or electricity.

Now what about those mushy veggie remains that didn’t make it past the strainer? Well, my friend Colleen Rhodes, seamstress extraordinaire over at Meins Designs on Etsy feeds her happy vegan dog the boiled veggies. He thinks it’s a big treat! Or you can compost them. Or toss them. Because now your veggie scraps have finally finished doing their nourishment  job.

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