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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 scatterbrained person (like me) that’s 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’s 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 ate on Sunday. I love doing broth from the whole chicken because it feels like “free food” to me.


Broth From A Whole Chicken

I do the chicken broth from a whole chicken a little different than the other broths. Using a previously roasted (or cooked in the crockpot) whole chicken, I return it to the crockpot and cover with water. I heat on high for an hour or two, then pick off the meat that was still left on the bones. It easily separates and I get anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups more meat depending on how well I previously de-boned the chicken. This meat is great for casseroles or chicken salad.

After I have the meat picked off, I return the bones to the crockpot (I leave the liquid in) and evaluate whether it needs more water. I want the bones to be covered by at least two inches. Then I add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. ACV helps break down the protein in the connective tissue to give a gelatinous, protein-rich broth.

Turn the crock pot on low and let it cook for 18 to 24 hours (check the water level every six to eight hours and add more 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 afterwards if it looks like it needs it.

The solids go back in my crockpot, and I repeat the process. 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.

I use this same process for any poultry—ducks, turkey (I break the carcass in half, saving the other portion for future broth batches), Guinea fowl, chucker, etc.



Other Broths, Including Fish

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.

I use essentially the same process for other bones as for chicken: the crockpot, plenty of water, and a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

The difference is the cooking time. Fish bones only need about 6 to 8 hours. I still do a second and third batch in the same manner as the chicken.

Beef or wild game bones (which are larger in size) cook for about 36 hours before I strain it and repeat the process.


Third Batch!

With any variety of bones, I’ll often do a third batch. This time I will sometimes add vegetable scraps. I keep all of my onion ends and inner skins, carrot peels and ends, green onion ends, and celery ends in a bag in the freezer. The addition of the veggie scraps on the last batch works well to give a final flavorful broth. In my early days of broth making, I added vegetable scraps to the first batch. I no longer do that, finding the scraps can make the broth bitter. But on the last batch, it seems to work. Some people save eggshells and add them to increase nutrients.

With larger bones, I’ll sometimes break the bones in half for the third batch. I’ve even successfully made four batches with knuckle-style bones.

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.


Freezer Bag

I keep a bag (or lidded container) in the freezer to save vegetable scraps to use in my final batch of broth. I’ll often start a separate bag of bones too. If we have chicken wings, drummies, or hindquarters, the bones get saved. When I think I have enough, it’s broth making time! When you’re stretching every penny of your food budget, saving what would normally get thrown away, and turning it into a nourishing protein-rich broth, makes smart financial (and health) sense.


Ways I Use Broth

I cook soaked beans in half broth and half water, or make Congee—one of my new favorite foods—soups, gravies, sauces, eggs cooked in broth, and also use it in place of water in rice.

Here are a few links to recipes and ideas for using broth:


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Do you make broth? What is your favorite use for it?

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