basics

Make Vegetable Stock For Free From Scraps {Quick and Easy in the Slow Cooker}

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Keep your freezer stocked with this practically free vegetable stock made from veggie scraps and you’ve got the base of hundreds of meals. No more stock powder cubes!

make your own vegetable stock for free from scraps
Homemade vegetable stock. Image by Casanisa @ stock.adobe.com

Stock forms the basis of many healthy, inexpensive meals like soups, stews, casserole, risotto, sauces – just to name a few.

Making your own will not only save you money, but it will be healthier, taste a million times better than stock cubes and your homemade stock will have less salt and no additives.

A tetra pack of ‘real’ stock costs around $4 for 1 litre.

You can make three times as much for (practically) free.

The trick is to keep and use your leftover vegetable scraps. Skins and off-cuts and limp vegetables that you might otherwise have thrown in the bin.

Making stock is really easy. It takes time, but you just put it on the heat and leave it. I use a slow cooker and cook it overnight. Just set and forget and then wake up to the beautiful smell of your own stock.

While the ingredients are free, you have to pay for the electricity to make your own stock. Our slow cooker costs about 4 cents an hour to run, so overnight, I spend about 52 cents to make this stock (find how to calculate your appliance running costs here). 

How to make your own Vegetable Stock

Scrap stock starts long before the actual cooking begins. It starts with the collecting of scraps.

Collecting Vegetable Scraps for Your Stock

Keep a bag or container in the freezer for keeping your scraps in. Then…

When you prepare meals, wash your vegetables and save the peelings and the scraps. Put them in your freezer bag and keep it in the freezer so your scraps don’t go mouldy.

Include scraps such as:

  • onion skins and ends
  • carrot peelings and ends
  • zucchini ends
  • mushroom stalks
  • parsley stems
  • the green part of the leek (washed)
  • garlic skins
  • celery tops

Limit things like broccoli stems and cabbage as these can give the stock a strong flavour. I sometimes throw these in anyway, because I don’t mind the flavour. Brown onion skins and red capsicum will give the stock a dark colour.

Vegetables that don’t go well in stock are starchy vegetables like potato, so it’s best to keep spud peelings out of your scrap bag.

make your own vegetable stock for free from scraps

Cooking Vegetable Stock

When you have a full bag, throw the vegetable scraps in a pot or slow cooker. Top it up with 3 or 4 litres of water.

If you like the taste, add a few peppercorns and a bay leaf or two. If you’re short on onion, carrot or parsleys scraps, throw a bit extra in the pot.

Bring to the boil and simmer for a few hours. 

Or…

Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for eight hours or overnight.

After your stock has simmered and developed it’s wonderful flavour, the next steps are:

  • strain the vegetables using a fine sieve
  • divide your stock into convenient portion sizes that suit you (I usually freeze 500ml lots); and
  • freeze for later

You can freeze the stock in plastic zip-lock bags, containers or glass jars as pictured. If you do use glass jars, just be sure to leave plenty of head-room in the jar for the liquid to expand as it freezes. Otherwise, your jars will smash in the freezer!

Now you have an almost free base for soups, casseroles, sauces, stews, risotto, or whatever you use stock for.

Looking for more stock recipes? Check out these related articles:

Make vegetable stock for free from scraps

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7 Comments

  1. Hi Melissa,
    I am loving this tip, and have been doing it for the last few months, but was just wondering if you do anything with the scraps once you have strained off all the stock? Do you put it in your compost or something like that? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jo,

      Yep, I put the used scraps in the compost (although I’ll be honest, I’m not as consistent with this as I would like to be). I have read that you shouldn’t put such we scraps in the compost, but as long as you put plenty of dry matter to balance, I haven’t had any problems.

  2. You can make bone/veg broth as well by keeping all your bones from your roast chooks, hams, chops,etc. Keep them all in the same bag with the vegie scaps in the freezer and slow cook together with a teaspoon or more of apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar helps to leach the minerals, like calcium, out of the bones and into the broth. Strain and store in contianers in the freezer ready for use in stews and soups.

  3. Hi Melissa
    by chance I was making a veg stock when I read this post. I love the idea of doing it in bulk. Thanks I find myself using quite a number of your tips.

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