One of the problems with that is that it’s usually quite expensive. Most of the time, I get around the cost by using the far more economical option of bouillon cubes and water, but sometimes I just use the cheapest option of all - water and salt.
Because the truth is that salt is the major component of canned broth and bouillon cubes alike, with only minimal other ingredients. The sodium content is typically quite high, particularly in the canned versions, with only somewhat less in the bouillon cubes.
One way I work around this and you can, too, is to dilute the broth with extra water.
Real broth - or stock, as it’s also called - is of course made by simmering vegetables and/or some kind of meat for an hour or more on the stove. I use it in almost all of my soup recipes, so I am very familiar with the process.
But until I had the opportunity to spend the day in a professional kitchen during a visit with some of my students, I had never heard of this “poor man’s” approach to making stock.
I was astonished. As frugal as I am, it had never occurred to me that I could use this “garbage” to make anything. I compost, of course, but this is certainly an alternative way to use the byproducts of food preparation so they do not go to waste.
Once I saw the results of this method when the vegetable remnants were strained, it was a “duh” moment for me. The medley of vegetables created a lovely, amber-colored stock that revealed itself upon tasting to be quite flavorful, even before the addition of salt or any other seasonings.
In other words, a much healthier, tastier alternative to the processed one.
So now, during the winter months, I have adopted the practice of saving my vegetable scraps in a container in the refrigerator until I have a couple of cups on hand to make the broth. In my house, since we use vegetables so much, that typically happens within a day or two.
Another option is to freeze the veggie scraps until you have enough to boil and make broth.
While this will not entirely replace my use of bouillon cubes, or salt and water, it’s definitely something I will use to augment those broth makers.
Here’s how you do it:
- Prepare your meal recipe that uses vegetables as directed, and set aside any vegetable peelings or remnants in a pot or bowl. Any vegetable peel or remnant will be fine, from carrots to potatoes, to onions, to celery, etc.
- You will have washed the vegetables prior to preparing them, but just to make sure there is no garden residue on the peelings, give them another wash or two in their pot by filling it with water and swishing the veggies around a bit.
- Drain the bowl or pan and repeat the washing process.
- Give a final rinse under running water.
- Put the vegetables into a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover them - usually 2-4 cups, but it will depend on how many vegetables you have.
- Cover the pan, and place it over high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low to maintain a steady simmer.
- Allow the contents to simmer on low for an hour or so.
- Pour the contents through a colander or strainer into another heat-proof bowl or pan.
- Allow the broth to cool and then store it in a container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.