Waste Not, Want Not: Vegetable Stock from Kitchen Scraps

After reading Faye’s excellent post about making vegetable stock on her blog Sustaining Life, I was inspired to attempt it myself. And just in time too: I’ve made soup a couple of times this fall already and using plain water definitely leaves something to be desired.

I’ve never been a fan of purchasing stock from the store because it seems like a lot of packaging, either an unrecyclable carton or multiple cans. A couple of people have recommended bouillon cubes, and I agree those would probably be a good option. However, I like the idea of using the scraps of all the produce I’ve already bought. It’s like making something out of nothing!

As Faye advised, I stored my scraps in a plastic bag in the freezer. It took me about a month to collect enough to fill the bag. Here’s the collection I ended up with:

Vegetable scraps frozen in plastic bag

I reuse tortilla bags for everything.

I followed Faye’s recipe, first seasoning and roasting the scraps in the oven, them simmering them in water for a little over an hour.

Frozen vegetable scraps in a Pyrex baking pan

Some scraps I included were a pumpkin rind, a few apple cores, red and green pepper stems and membranes, onion ends, and rutabaga peelings.

Vegetable scraps in pot with water

Vegetables in pot after having been simmered

I could tell it was working because my apartment started to smell like delicious soup. After letting the stock cool, I removed the big vegetable chunks with tongs and then poured the remainder through a strainer.

The finished stock is a lovely golden brown and has an oh-so-slightly sweet flavor, probably due to the apple cores. My only puzzlement with the process is that I put in 8 or 9 cups of water and ended up with only 5 cups of stock. One culprit may be the fact that the lid to my stock pot has steam-release holes in it. The stock also came out a little more oily than I expected, which I’ll take as a lesson to lighten up on the olive oil during the roasting step. (I eyeballed it instead of measuring—a classic blunder. Come to think of it, I eyeballed the water amount too…)

Homemade vegetable stock in plastic container

The whole process was very easy and didn’t make a mess. Now I have tasty stock to use for making soup, rice, or anything else that could use a flavor boost instead of plain water, and I didn’t use anything other than scraps I would have thrown away. I definitely plan to continue collecting scraps for my next batch!

If you want to try it yourself, be sure to check out Faye’s post for the specific recipe and a helpful list of what veggies not to include in stock.

Have you ever made your own vegetable stock? How cool is it to make food out of [clean, edible] garbage??


  1. This is so great to see! I have never tried making stock with apple cores before, but I love that idea. It sounds like it might be a good way to get that spicy-sweet flavor that Vietnamese Pho has! So glad to see that this was easy and fun for you :)

  2. Elizabeth

    I have done this many times, and always happy with the outcome. Also good to throw in the bones and skin from a rotisserie chicken. The Best broth has onion, celery and carrot scraps, plus whatever else. I freeze it in 1- and 2-cup chunks to pull out as recipes require — no more opening a box that gets buried in the back of the fridge. I’ve never heard about roasting first; my scraps go straight from the freezer to the pot. But yes, you do need a really huge pot to start with to make it worth doing. :)

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