Making your own bone broth is such a good idea. No really. If you make nothing else all month, you have to make some chicken bone broth. First of all it’s easy. Second, its economical, third, it’s so versatile, and fourth, it’s good!!!
When I have to, I will buy the organic chicken stock at Costco, but it seems so watery and thin, and just lacking flavor. It kind of just feels like such a waste of good money. But what I have started doing more diligently is saving my veggie scraps by collecting them in a freezer bag. When I have extra trimmings of chicken, or leftover bones or carcases, I save those too. Then about every two weeks I buy a package of chicken legs from Costco. I use them for the stock, but I use the meat to make dog food for my picky Great Dane. I use the legs because they are economical, provide a lot of meat for my dogs, and have nice simple large bones, and have a good amount of fat and flavor. But you can certainly use whatever chicken parts you would like. You can even save the bones from your cooked chicken dinners and add them at the second stage of cooking the stock.
This is the base for the best chicken noodle soup ever. Add a few more ingredients and you have ramen soup. You can cook your pasta in it, use it to thin sauces, make pan sauces for your meat dishes, and I’m sure you have a million other uses already. When your kiddos are sick, there’s nothing better than a hot cup of this stuff.
Something about making this makes me feel like I’m doing my part to save the planet. And I feel so good about not wasting food. My grandma would be so proud of me! You know those ends of the onion you throw away, or the carrot peelings, or the fluffy ends of the celery nobody uses, or the scraps left behind in your garlic press??? Save all that. Save your onion skins too. You can throw in other veggie scraps if you want, just nothing that will throw off the flavor like, oh, I don’t know, eggplant???
So basically you will need a big stock pot, like at least a gallon size, a strainer, two big bowls, several containers or ice cube trays to freeze it all, and some cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. That last part is optional but nice to strain out the really fine particles. One really big bit of advice is to NOT salt your stock. That’s right. I said no salt. Why? Because what if whatever you are going to use it in already has salt? What if you want to use it to make a reduction where you will be boiling it down to a fraction of it’s original volume, (otherwise known as glacé). This will allow you much greater flexibility with your end product. And if you are going to use mason jars, these lids are great to have. I got sick and tired of the two part canning lids they come with which I don’t need since I’m not actually “canning”. One more thing—cool the stock all the way cold in the refrigerator overnight before you put it in it’s final containers. This is really important if you are using glass to freeze them in. I didn’t do this last time and half of my bottles burst because the liquid expanded too much in the freezer from the major temperature change.
- 7-8 lbs of chicken legs
- 1 gallon of water
- 4 cups of vegetable scraps
- 1 tsp of dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp pepercorns
- Put all your chicken parts in the stock pot, cover with water, set on medium low heat. Be patient, let it come up to a slow simmer, and if it starts to simmer too high, turn it down a notch. Alternately you can do this in the crockpot, it will just take a little longer.
- When the meat is literally falling off the bones, strain the whole pot of liquid into a large bowl or another pot. Let the meat and bones cool enough for your to handle, then separate the meat from the bones. Reserve the meat for another use, put the bones back into the stock liquid and return to low heat.
- Add the vegetables and seasonings and simmer for 6- hours. The longer slower the better to extract as much flavor and nutrients as possible. Add more water as needed to keep everything covered and liquid.
- Let the mixture cool enough so it doesn't burn you. Pour through a strainer and throw away the solids. If you have a fine strainer or nut milk bag, strain it again to get the smaller particles. If not, just pour into desired storage containers and freeze. (Remember to fully chill first if you're using glass containers to freeze)