A reader asks the following question:
“Your recipes call for vegetable broth. Can I used canned or boxed or do I have to make broth from scratch? And why vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken broth?”
Please join this discussion and post your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s the answer . . .
Broth – Canned vs. Boxed
For best nutrient density, I like homemade broth, but I understand that not everyone has the time, or wants to take the time to make their own. In this case, a high quality store bought broth is very convenient. Broth is available in either cans or aseptic boxes. Both have benefits and drawbacks.
The boxes seem to have a longer shelf life when stored in the refrigerator and don’t contain Bisphenol A (BPA) which is a known health hazard. The cans are easier to recycle and usually cheaper.
Whichever you choose, look for the following:
- organic broth
- no preservatives or artificial additives
- no sweeteners added
- choose low sodium versions so you can add your own salt based on personal preference
Broth – Homemade
Don’t be afraid to try making your own broth though. It’s super easy and very, very cheap. You can also pour the broth into ice cube trays and store in the freezer. Frozen, the broth will last longer and you can have a convenient way to use it in the future.
The great thing about homemade broth is you can use the parts of vegetables that you normally throw away or compost. Broth is a great place to add onion skins, onion tops, carrot tops, celery leaves, tops of leeks, stems from greens, etc. Whenever we cut the tops of vegetables or skins, etc. we throw them in a bag in the freezer. Use whatever is in the bag for the broth.
- Combination of any leftover vegetable pieces plus:
- 1 large carrot, cut into ½ inch slices)
- 2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 4-5 whole cloves, pressed with the flat side of a knife
- 6-8 peppercorns
- 2 large bay leaves
- approximately 8 cups of filtered water
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (optional)
- 1 bunch of parsley
- Place everything except the parsley in a large stockpot. Fill with cold water to cover all the vegetables.
- Cover pot and bring to a boil. Skim any foam from the top and stir.
- Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, covered, for 50 minutes.
- Add the bunch of parsley. Stir. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the vegetable mass or strain. Depending on the flavor you may want to return the liquid to the stock pot and continue simmering down until it’s about 3 quarts. This is usually where you’ll get the best flavor, but you can continue to reduce the broth to intensify the flavor. You can stop with just broth and save it for later or freeze it for future use.
Broth – Vegetable vs. Meat
The reason I recommend vegetable broth is because when purchasing store bought varieties the ingredients are usually better. I’ve only been able to locate one brand of boxed broth that doesn’t include sweeteners, and until recently, only the vegetable broth was free of added cane juice.
Truly, I never make homemade vegetable broth. I make and use chicken, beef, bone, or fish broth. I like the added geletin and flavor in these broths, and they have a bit more nutrients. If you want to make chicken broth, add 2-3 pounds of chicken cut up into serving pieces. Increase the cooking time to two hours. If you want to make beef broth, add 2-3 pounds of beef pieces, including the bones. Same for fish, add fish bones and meat. For bone broth see this post. But, use what tastes best to you – that’s really the determining factor in all cooking.