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I thought I would share with you how I make broth. If you are a broth/stock purist you will not want to read this post. If you are a busy slightly scatter brained person (like me) working with a tight food budget (also like me) then this might interest you.
I make about a gallon of broth a week. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. My goal is to make a gelatin rich broth to help get extra nutrition into our diet. Plus it is wonderful to have the broth available for gravies and stocks. The added flavor is amazing.
I have made broth out of chicken, beef, duck, antelope, chicken feet and fish. All have turned out amazing. I have chicken stock cooking right now from the whole chicken we hate on Sunday. I love doing broth from the whole chicken because it feels like ‘free food’ to me.
Chicken Broth from a Whole Chicken: I do the chicken broth from a whole chicken a little different than the other broths. I cook it on the stove top for about an hour and then pick off the meat that was still left on the bone. It easily separates and I get anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups more meat depending on how well that I de-boned the chicken. This meat is great for casseroles or chicken salad.
After I have the meat picked off I put the liquid and the bones in my crock pot. Then I add my veggies scraps. I keep all of my onion ends and inner skins, carrot peels and ends, green onion ends, and the rare celery ends in a bag in the freezer. I usually use just under half of my freezer stash (you’ll see why I use half instead of all in a bit). I pour water up almost to the top of my pot and put in a couple of tablespoons of vinegar.
I turn the crock pot on low and let it cook for 18-24 hours (I check the water when I think about it and add it if necessary). When it is done and cool enough to work with I strain the bones by putting a big bowl under a colander (don’t ask me if I have ever forgot to put the bowl under the colander). I run the broth through a smaller strainer after that if it looks like it needs it. The solids go back in my crock pot and I repeat the process using the rest of my veggie scraps. I know that the second batch is not as concentrated but I still get a good amount of gelatin in it since it thickens up nicely when cooled.
Other Broths including Fish (pictured above): Isn’t that a lovely picture? Broth made with fish heads provides iodine and thyroid-strengthening substances. So be sure to put the heads in if you have them.
For these I throw my bones (either leftover cooked bones or raw carcasses) in the crock pot, add my veggie scraps (half again), a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and fill with water.
I cook them for 6-36 hours (beef and antelope for 36, fish for 6-8) then strain as the description for the whole chicken. I put the bones back in the pot and repeat the process.
Note: I don’t salt my broth until I’m ready to use it. Then I’m quite generous with the sea salt.
Where do I get my bones? One thing I do is put the word out to people I know that hunt or raise animals that I would be happy to take carcasses and chicken feet off their hands (I also let them know I’ll take the offal but that is a subject for another post). We go fishing, that is where the fish carcasses come from. I occasionally buy bones from my beef CSA if I’m running low on other bones. And I save bones from cooked meals to use too. If I have a bone in roast of some sort it is fair game for broth. If it’s a small bone, then it goes in the freezer until I have enough for a pot.
Ways I use Broth: I cook soaked beans in half broth and half water, Congee one of my new favorite foods, soups, gravies, sauces, eggs cooked in broth, and in place of water in rice.
Updated on 12/16/11: I’ve been making broth for some time now and while this description is still basically what I do, I have a few changes to tell you about. The main differences is that I rarely add vegetables to my broth now and I make a third crock pot full of broth.
Whole Chicken: I still want to get any additional meat off the chicken carcass that may have been left behind after carving. But since we usually have that chicken in the evening time and I’m about spent for the day by then, I just stick the carcass in the crock pot and cover it with water, turn it on low and then in the morning go ahead and pick off any remaining meat.
I use the same method for Whole Ducks as I do for Whole Chicken.
Freezer Bag: I keep a bag in the freezer of chicken bones for the times we have chicken hindquarters, drummies, wings, etc. When I think there is enough in the bag I make broth. I have a separate bag each for lamb bones and beef bones that is used in the same manner.
Veggies: I rarely add any veggies to my broth for the first or second pot. We found that the veggies often made the broth too sweet or too bitter or too something. No veggies is much better for us.
A Third Pot: I now fill my crock pot up a third time to make an additional batch of stock. I tried this the first time last spring and was super pleased with the results. Sometimes I’ll add veggie scraps to this third (and final) batch and a new slug of vinegar. The third batch does seem a little ‘thinner’ but not so much that I think it is devoid of nutrition. In fact, I suspect that with the long cooking of the bones by that point even more of the minerals are available and easily imparted in the broth.
Fish Broth: I use trout or other lake/river fish for this. We catch the fish ourselves and save the heads and bones for broth. Living in Wyoming, I don’t really have access to other types of fish bones and so far we’ve been pleased with these broths. I do cook the fish bones for a very short time compared to other bones (6-8 hours) and I only do one batch.
This post is a contribution to Real Food Wednesday hosted this week by Cheeseslave.