Eating (and cooking) real, whole food can be a bit pricey at times….okay, most of the time. It is probably one of the few downsides (other than the dishes) that comes with choosing a real food lifestyle. When buying organic and/or whole unprocessed foods, often times the grocery bill can creep eerily high. This fact is what often deters people from buying and making “real food”, the sheer cost of it! It’s difficult and frustrating when you are on a tight budget and/or have a family to feed. However, there are shortcuts and tricks out there that you can use to help feed your family amazingly healthy foods while saving a few bucks. No-waste slow cooker vegetable broth is one of my favorites.
You know those carrot tops, celery leaves, unneeded onion halves, broccoli stems, and kale ribs that you just pitch into the trash or compost bin? Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was some way to use those bits of vegetables (that are chock-full of nutrients) that often go unused in something to feed your family? Oh, but there is, my friends! Vegetable broth!
I love having vegetable broth in the freezer because it seems like it is needed in so many recipes. Soups, rice dishes, stir-fries, and so on. Broth is something you will always find a use for, so I always make sure to have a few jars around. And making sure I have some around is so much easier when you can make it out of the stuff you typically throw away….and in your slow cooker to boot.
I know you guys are scrolling through, frantically looking for the recipe for this amazing broth, but, see….here’s the thing. Its hard to write a recipe for something that can be made out of odds and ends. I (literally) just have a big bowl sitting in my freezer that I throw my vegetable scraps into. Once the bowl is full, I stuff it all into my slow cooker, add some sea salt, pepper, and herbs, cover everything with water, and walk away for 12 hours while my broth is infused with all the lovely flavor and nutrients my veggie scraps have to offer.
Here are some of the veggie scraps I use in my broth:
- broccoli stalks and/or leaves
- kale ribs
- carrot tops, carrot peels, and/or carrots that have hung out in the crisper too long and are a bit to rubbery to enjoy raw or cooked.
- green onion or leek tops
- garlic that has started to sprout
- beet tops (though this turns your broth a deep red color and not everyone cares for that)
- celery tops/leaves/bottoms
- potato skins
- leftover onion not needed for another recipe (even if I don’t have a leftover onion, I add one to every batch of broth, as it really adds to the flavor.)
The beauty in this vegetable broth is that there is not one specific ingredient you HAVE to put it. You can literally just throw whatever random veggie bits you have kicking around in your house to good use.
Once you have collected enough vegetable scraps to fill your slow cooker (and how much depends on how big your slow cooker is), you are ready to make your broth. Here is how to do it:
- Fill your slow cooker with vegetable scraps.
- Season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, or whatever other spices you enjoy to taste.
- Cover vegetable scraps and spices with water.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours.
- Once done cooking, allow stock to cool for a bit and carefully (don’t burn yourself) strain the broth through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Discard cooked vegetable scraps and allow the broth to cool completely.
- Once cooled, portion out vegetable broth into containers. Store broth for 5 days or in freezer for months.
Guys, its really that simple….and cheap! You’ll likely never buy pre-made broth again.
In case you were wondering, the difference between stock and broth is often confused and they are often thought to be one and the same. Not true, my dears. While stock and broth are very close, stock is unseasoned and neutral tasting while broth often is peppered (pun intended) with sea salt and added herbs, giving it more flavor. If you are looking to make stock instead of broth, you can still make it in your slow cooker, just skip the salt and added spices.
Love kitchen staples made in the slow cooker? Me too! Try my Crock Pot Tomato Sauce!
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