At first, I was thinking of beginning this post with how I started making chicken broth/stock for its health benefits.
But then after thinking back to my first batch of chicken broth a few months ago, it was actually that we had just got bought four or five whole chickens when they were on sale and figured why not trying to make our own broth instead of spending $5 on a 16-ounce can of broth, or even more if you’re going for natural or organic?
I loved our first batch of chicken broth, so much that I’ve vowed never to go back to the store bought version. It is easy to make, inexpensive and makes the house smell so good for the entire day!
The Healthy Benefits of Slow-Cooked Chicken Broth
If you grew up in New England like I did and you ever got sick in the winter, you were given chicken soup. That is still something I do to this very day, but did you know there is actually scientific evidence that proves slow-cooked bone broth helps you get better faster? I sure didn’t.
It’s called cysteine, which is an amino acid that is prevalent in chicken bones. This cysteine is what helps clear the congestion from you lungs, helping you feel better quicker.
However, the health benefits don’t just stop there. Homemade broth is a nutritional powerhouse you won’t find anywhere else. It contains lots of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and a host of other minerals.
These minerals help heal the inner lining of your gut while improving digestion, help reduce joint pain, promote strong healthy bones, and may even help you sleep better at night. The store bought brands…not so much.
Ingredients for Making Chicken Broth
The most important ingredient is the chicken or chicken bones. You want a natural, organic pasture-raised chicken, if at all possible. When you make the broth, you are literally taking the nutrients out of the bones. Having the healthiest chicken possible means you’ll get not only a better tasting broth, but a better-for-you one too.
While I always like to use a fresh whole chicken carcass (hate that word by the way, but can’t think of any other way to word it nicely!), you can also collect the bones from meals, and freeze them until you have enough to make a broth.
The ingredients I use:
- chicken carcass and/or bones about a pound and a half to two pounds
- 1 onion with skin chopped
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 3-4 stalks of celery with the leaves roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped with the skin
- A bunch of parsley or other dried herbs
- 1/2 tsp of black pepper
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2T organic apple cider vinegar
I’m not picky when it comes to what goes into the chicken broth as far as ingredients go. If you don’t have a bunch of parsley, don’t worry about it, just add a mixture of dried herbs you have on hand.
Honestly, making broth is more of an art than a science. For instance, the amount of salt I use varies and depends on what I will be using the broth for – whether it’s for a soup, a base for a casserole, etc.
How to Cook Chicken Broth
There are two options that I have tried for cooking chicken broth.
- Simmer in a large stock pot on the stove top for 6-8 hours.
- Allow the broth to cook in the crockpot overnight.
I tried the simmering in a large pot method, but I had to constantly check the pot, because I cannot leave the oven on completely unattended with cats in the house. So, we experimented with the crock pot and have found the crock pot method works best.
Add the chicken carcass/bones to the crock pot and completely cover in water, leaving about an inch of space from the top of the crock pot. Then add 2T of organic raw apple cider vinegar and let soak for an hour.
Add the other ingredients and turn the crock pot on high until it comes to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer overnight. I have found 28 hours to be the perfect amount of time for my taste, which is important to keep in mind.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the larger pieces then strain the broth through a cheesecloth or use a mesh cooking seive.
How long the checken broth cooks depends a lot upon your taste, the longer it cooks the more flavorful it will become.
Tips for Making Your Own
- Save your carrot tops, onion skins, and other vegetables scraps in an air tight container in the freezer and use these for your broth ingredients.
- Apple cider vinegar is said to help leech the nutrients from the bones, and it has no affect the taste. Just be sure to use the organic apple cider vinegar that has “the Mother” (honestly looks a little like someone spit in it), but this kind of gross looking Mother contains strains of protein and good-for-you friendly bacteria.
- The longer you cook the broth, the more it will reduce. This makes for easier storage if you won’t be able to use it all within five days or so.
How to Store Homemade Broth
Every week during the winter months, I try to make a batch of chicken broth. I’ll use some immediately for one of my go-to recipes and freeze the rest for future use.
1. Store in glass mason jars, you can freeze these as long as you leave space on the top and let completely cool before freezing.
2. Use ice cube trays to make frozen broth cubes. These are great to add a little flavor to ground meat meals or when a recipe you are following calls for a cup or less of broth.
Have experience making your own chicken broth, please share any tips below or your favorite recipe for using it in.