Store-bought vs. Homemade:
How to Make Vegetable Stock
I have watched one too many documentaries I think.
We have chosen to just go without when it comes to poultry meat and eggs if we cannot either raise them ourselves or source them from a farmer.
This creates a practical kitchen conflict because I am extremely busy as you are, also. We are active in our local community, homeschool three kiddos, run a business, and make much of our food from scratch. I also tutor one day a week at our local classical-style homeschool program. Wednesdays have us running to three separate activities before the day is out, and we have clocked our at-home time to be 2 ½ hours that day.
So here is the conflict: I cannot cook without broth. I just cannot do it. Wednesdays would mean hunger if it weren’t for something to chuck into the slow cooker. Soups and stews economize our dollar, equate to great leftovers that are easily reheated from the freezer, and frees me up that evening to not lean over an intricate meal in the kitchen.
My number one choice is homemade chicken stock. This Awesomeness-In-A-Bowl is great alone or as the base to anything else. When offered various snack choices, I have had kids literally choose a bowl of clear broth over things blander things like carrot sticks. When I am running low on chicken broth, I reach for my next fave: homemade vegetable broth!
Why not just buy chicken broth from the store?
Oi. If you are really asking….
I was going to just pull up an ingredients list for a common brand for you. Nutritional facts a’plenty (very little of it, let me tell you), but ingredients lists are a little harder to find online.
College Inn did produce a label online (at least they offer transparency), and for regular old chicken broth, this is what you have:
Chicken Broth, Contains Less Than 1% of the Following: Salt, Dextrose, Vegetable Juice Concentrates (Onion, Celery, Carrot), Natural Flavors, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Chicken Fat, Mono and Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum.
For kicks and giggles, I highlighted everything not in your homemade yumminess. Oh, and if you didn’t know, that dextrose is a GMO corn-sugar product. Why is everything on that list “less than 1%” and does that mean it is 99% water? I have to chuckle; this must be how they can put “99% Fat Free” on the label. It’s 99% everything-free. Is that what we are paying for? Also, did you notice how low chicken appears on the list? It was chicken fat, not meat, not bones…not that I’m complaining about the fat, but what kind of chicken did it come from?
A healthy pastured one???<maniacal laugh>
Remember that most of the growth hormones are stored in the fat.
Store-Bought Vegetable Broth
The good news is that it actually contains vegetable broth. I know, right?
It is not necessarily vegetarian. The College Inn (kudos for the online label) Brand shows us this:
Vegetable Broth (Carrot Juice, Celery Juice, Zucchini Juice, Onion Juice, Garlic Juice, Red & Green Bell Pepper Juice, Leek Juice, Parsley Juice), Contains Less Than 2% of the Following: Sugar, Tomato Paste, Salt, White Distilled Vinegar, Lactic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Disoidum Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.
I discovered that the Disoidum Inosinate and the Disodium Guanylate are often made from animal sources, and so your vegetable broth may not be vegetarian after all. It works in conjunction with MSG to enhance the flavor. If you do not see MSG on the ingredients list (according to Wikipedia anyway), then MSG is part of another ingredient on the list or might be naturally occurring (such as in Parmesan cheese). In fact, TruthInLabeling.Org says that the "naturally occuring" phrase is bunk since the FDA claims that all MSG is "naturally occuring"...something to think about. Those particular ingredients on the label listed above do rely upon MSG to work and carry certain warnings (such as “not safe for infants under 12 weeks” or for people suffering from asthma).
In fact, many broth labels currently break FDA law on labeling, and you can read a reader-submitted list of those deceptive broth labels here.
So here is the good news….
Free Alternative to Homemade Chicken Broth
This vegetarian broth will cost you nothing.
Save all of your vegetable (and even some fruit) scraps in your freezer. All of them.
The ends? Yup.
Onion peel? Yup.
The bruised parts? Of course.
The pesticide-infused ones? Uh, no. Not those.
Wash all fruits and vegetables extremely well before peeling foods. We use this $2.00 scrub brush.
If you question the source or handling of the food, you should probably discard the peel instead of creating a pesticide tea.
Almost anything goes. A few apple cores and pear peels will add to the flavor, it does not need to be all veggies. Throw them into the freezer until you are ready to use them.
* Add the frozen vegetable scraps to your stock pot.
* Add a water to scrap ratio of 2:1 . For instance, 6 quarts of peel should have 12 quarts water.
* Put them on the stove to simmer. Avoid a rolling boil. You want to keep as much of the nutrition in that water as possible, not create a mold problem in the attic—so once it starts to boil, put it on a very low-medium heat for approximately 3-5 hours (this is my preference for best flavor, anyway).
* Taste test and add salt or other seasonings as desired.
*Use a strainer to separate broth.
It does not get better than that.
Because Free, Healthy, and Delicious is a trifecta….
Nothing in this blog constitutes medical or legal advice. You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.
The College Inn Broth photo is the product picture available at https://www.collegeinn.com.
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