How To Make Your Own Vegetable Stock in a Crockpot (and save $15)

Ok, so last week it was hot, hot, hot around here and I told you how to make homemade frozen yogurt. Well, the last couple of days things have cooled down to the mid-sixties and I am making soup.
Welcome to Oregon.
veggie stock
I love using vegetable stock in soup – it adds great flavor, but I don’t like to spend my money on it. I’d pay between $3 -$4 per quart at the grocery store. During the wet, rainy months of fall, winter and spring, I like to make a lot of soup and it adds up.
One day last year, I was cutting up an onion. I noticed the scraps on the edge of my cutting board and thought that it would be really nice to use them to make veggie stock, but there was just so little.
Ping! (That’s the sound of a lightbub lighting above my head.)
I took all the scraps and put them in a gallon sized ziplock and put them in the freezer. The next time I cut veggies, I added them to the bag. It started filling up with the ends of green beans, garlic and onion skins, wilted carrots, the tough parts of leeks… all of the things that would normally be thrown away.
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When my bag got full, I turned it into veggie stock.
Want to try it? Here’s how:

Dump your bag of frozen scraps in the crockpot.
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I have heard that the best stock has close to a 1:1:1 ratio of carrots, celery and onion. Take a look at your scraps to see if you might need to add a bit more of any of those items. If so, give whatever is lacking an rough chop and throw it in.
Add in any herbs you have lying around. I like thyme and parsley, but if you don’t have any, they are not really necessary.
Turn the crockpot to low and cook for at least 10 hours.
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Your house should start smelling really tasty. Make sure you have something good planned for dinner.
You want everything to be nicely wilted and kind of colorless.
veggie stock
Turn the crockpot off and let things cool. In the meantime place a large colander in a bowl and line it with a clean linen towel.
Scoop or pour in as much as your colander will hold and let it drain..
veggie stock
Then wrap up the veggies in your towel and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the liquid out. This is the good stuff, don’t waste it.
veggie stock
Squeezing by hand is also the reason why you want it cool. I was impatient last time and ended up with red and tender hands. Ouch.
When you are done, throw out or compost the wasted veggies. Pour your new stock into jars for the fridge if you’ll be using it in the next week, or for the freezer.
I got a gallon of yummy stock – for freeeeee.
veggie stock
Pat yourself on the back for not wasting food or money.

Additional Thoughts

  • Go easy on strong veggies like broccoli and artichoke.
  • Some people say that onion and garlic skins give too astringent of a flavor, but I have not found that to be true. Experiment.
  • I have heard that roasting veggies in the oven first makes for a particularly rich stock, but I have not tried it yet. If you do, let me know how it goes.
  • If you forget about your stock, or it gets late and you need to go to bed, I don’t think it hurts anything to cook longer. My last batch cooked for 18 hours an it was great.


I’m ready for soup weather. Have a favorite soup recipe to share?

14 Responses to “How To Make Your Own Vegetable Stock in a Crockpot (and save $15)”

  1. Candy C. says:

    I just used some homemade chicken stock to make chicken pot pie tonight! I really like using stock too but your are right, it’s VERY expensive!

  2. Janalyn says:

    Good reminder Heidi! I have a bag of stuff in the freezer! Way to go!

  3. Lydia says:

    I’m so looking forward to soup season now! We like to add chicken bones to ours and simmer it on the stove for 3 hours or so. Buying a whole chicken is cheaper per pound, and this way nothing is wasted.

  4. Soliloquy says:

    So I’m thinking if the end of the world shows up on my doorstep, I’ll pack up my family and we will come live with you.

    Thought you should know.

  5. Kelly says:

    You might find this humorous, maybe not. :-) I did! I read this over the weekend while we were away from home. I thought it was a great idea and wondered why I wasn’t doing it. Last night I was adding veggies to the beef bones we’d just devoured the meat from for dinner when the answer hit me. We have chickens, goats and a pig. There AREN’T vegetable scraps to save in the freezer because they get eaten by one group of animals or another right away!

  6. Kelly says:

    @Candy

    It’s not expensive at all if you buy whole chickens and use the bones to make your stock.

  7. kristin m says:

    I usually let mine go for roughly 24 hours especially when I make my chicken stock. I usually do mine half lid on half lid off to get a condensed stock.

  8. Melissa B says:

    I’m starting my bag of leftover vegetables to make stock right now in the freezer … what a great idea! I have my chicken carcus on the stove simmering now with celery in it to make chicken broth. I’ve done this for a few years and love it much more than what you get in the store.

  9. Wendy says:

    I noticed you put your veggie stock/broth in canning jars but they have plastic lids so I think that means you didn’t seal them. Did you freeze those? I am not canning yet and freeze most of the things that I make in bulk. Just wondering!

  10. John says:

    Good recipe, I’m making this right now and am looking for a way to really squeeze the veggies; a linen towel looks like it might be just right. I’m using a cheesecloth right now but I don’t want to rip the cheese cloth by squeezing too much.

    Here are some other things you can do with this-

    -Cut the meat from T-bone steaks and put the T-bone in the freezer bag along with the veggies; it gives the broth a nice deep flavor. Throw in shrimp peels and cut the meat from roasted chicken bones and throw those bones in as well.

    -Empty the freezer bag into a roasting pan and roast the veggies for 30 min. to an hour to defrost them (helps cut down the broth cooking time) and to evaporate some of the liquid. Just give it a stir once or twice in the oven.

    -Re-cook the vegetables once you’ve drained them and wait to squeeze them until the second time. Then reduce the liquid from the second cooking to make up for it being a weaker broth. The fancy term for this is remouillage, or ‘re-wetting’.

  11. John says:

    One other thing you can do is to save the juice from when you cook meats, like roasting chicken, etc. Even the liquid from meatloaf! Just drain the liquid into a container and put in the fridge to solidify any fat. Scrape the solidified fat off and put in the freezer. Once all this liquid is saved up throw it in with your soup for instant flavor blast! Soups, beans, chili, or anything you add liquid to is good to go!

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