I haven’t bought stock or broth from the store in years. Chances are, you have everything you need to keep a solid supply of homemade stock right in your kitchen. The secret? Kitchen scraps! Save your kitchen scraps in a freezer bag and use them to make stock, rather than throw them away.
Ends of onions and carrots? Throw them in. The celery you bought with good intentions that’s starting to wilt sadly in your crisper? Add it to the stock bag. Lemon peels, herb stems, leek tops? All fair game. For great bone both, save the bones and carcasses any time you eat meat. Whole chickens, rack of lamb, pork shoulder – all of it is perfect for kitchen scraps stock. The only thing I’d take a hard stand AGAINST including is broccoli, cauliflower, or anything cruciferous. These veggies will overpower all the other flavors and it won’t taste good.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this easy way to save money and reduce food waste. Plus, it tastes way better than anything you can find in the store.
First, let’s talk through the different types of stock and their uses:
- Seafood stock (shrimp peelings, lobster shells, etc., veggies, spices, and a bit of white wine): This is great for seafood bisques and stews like bouillabaisse and cioppino.
- Chicken stock (bones and leftover pieces from chicken, veggies, spices): This is really the go-to and can be used in any recipes that call for stock.
- Beef or lamb stock (bones and leftover pieces from steaks, rack of lamb, etc., veggies, and spices): Great in lots of soups like French onion, pot roasts, and gravy.
- Pork stock (bones from pork shoulder or other cuts, veggies, spices): Perfect for split pea soup but can also be used in place of other types of stock.
- Veggie stock (veggies, sometimes roasted, and spices): Can be used in place of anything listed above for vegetarian recipes.
Most of these are interchangeable – the taste is relatively similar so feel free to substitute based on what you have.
So how do you do it?
What you need for kitchen scraps stock:
- Gallon (or larger) ziploc freezer bags
- Freezer scraps collected over time
- Spices such as salt, pepper, and bay leaves
- Stock pot
- Large bowl or liquid measuring cup
- Ladle or small liquid measuring cup
- Fine mesh strainer
- Quart ziploc freezer bags
- Sharpie for labeling
How to make stock:
- Take a gallon ziploc freezer bag. If you want to go big, get one of those XL ones – this is what I do for chicken stock. Typically, I have one bag going for each type of meat I’m working with, so usually I’ll have a big bag with chicken scraps and a couple smaller ones for lamb and pork.
- When you have bones from dinner, take the bag out of the freezer, drop in the bones, and put it back.
- Every time you’re chopping onions or other vegetables, especially carrots and celery, instead of throwing away the scraps, take your bag out of the freezer and drop the trimmings in, then put it back in the freezer.
- Once your bag is full, and you have a full day to dedicate (I know this can be rare, but it’s so worth it), it’s time to make your stock. Pull your bag from the freezer and pour the contents into a dutch oven or large stock pot, depending on how big your bag is.
- Fill the pot with water until all of the contents are covered.
- Add some flavoring – typically, I’ll throw in a couple bay leaves, some salt and pepper, a few cloves of garlic, a fresh onion if I have one to spare, maybe some white wine if I’ve got some open. Don’t go too heavy on the salt – you want to be able to control the salt content when you go to use the stock in a recipe.
- Give it a good stir, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Let your pot simmer over low heat for a few hours. Usually I’ll start my stock around 10 or 11 in the morning and let it go all day, until 5 or 6 in the evening. After a few hours, you should have a nice, rich, deep golden color.
- After 6 – 8 hours, turn off the stove, remove the cover, and let stock cool slightly.
- Once stock has begun to cool, you’ll want to separate the good, yummy liquid from all the veggie chunks. Put a large bowl on your counter (or, if you have it, a large liquid measuring cup is even better) and cover that with a fine mesh strainer.
- Take a small liquid measuring cup or ladle and scoop the contents out of the stock pot. Pour this over the fine mesh strainer, catching the big solid pieces and letting the liquid filter through. You’ll need to empty the strainer into your compost pretty frequently as it collects the bigger pieces from the stock pot. Do this until your bowl is full and let it cool some more.
- Once the liquid has cooled, you’re ready to portion it out. Use quart-sized freezer bags and label them as you go. Pour or ladle your liquid into these bags in three-cup portions, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal the bags. Lay them flat out the counter.
- Repeat this process until you’re out of liquid.
- Place your individual ziploc bags into a plastic grocery bag, then transfer the whole thing to the freezer.
- Pull out one bag at a time anytime you have a recipe that calls for stock.
Once you’re in the habit of doing this, it becomes second nature, and it really goes a long way. I love quick, simple fixes that make a big difference!
We’d love to hear from you – tell us what you’re doing to cut down on food waste.