Let’s talk about chicken broth. There are a lot of blogs out there about chicken broth and its benefits. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel except to share resources and my experience with you. If you are anything like me, you use chicken broth a lot; soups, casseroles, sauces, marinades, rice, and quinoa. I substitute it for oil when sautéing vegetables and don’t tell my husband, but occasionally I use it to make his hash-browns in the morning. I know it’s so easy to just buy the boxed chicken broth and call it a day, but you might be missing out on awesome nutrition and flavor for you family.
Did you ever wonder where the idea of serving chicken noodle soup when someone is sick came from? It’s not just because it is easy on stomach and warm. Chicken soup started as home remedy because of the nutritional value of chicken stock (broth) to repair and calm the lining of the small intestines, bringing healing to the body. Not to get too graphic, but the longer you boil those chicken bones and innards, the more nutrition you suck from the bone marrow and organs. Learn more about this in a book called Ageless Remedies for Your Kitchen.
I learned how to make chicken broth from one the best cookbooks I’ve read for cooking from scratch called Nourishing Traditions. This book has taught me to make mayonnaise and yogurt, what to do with whey, as well as the basics of pickling and sprouting grains. It’s a great resource if you are interested in ancient art of fermentation and culturing.
There is a great chicken stock recipe in that book that I make modifications to based off what I have in kitchen and how much time I have. Check out the recipe for more details on the chicken stock process, but for those of you that like to be hit with the facts really fast, all you need is:
· Raw chicken bones (whole chicken carcass or legs with or without meat on them). I usually use a whole chicken but removed the breasts for a chicken dish before boiling, but you can use the whole chicken, breast and all.
· Water (most recipes called for filtered but I am lazy),
· Some veggies
· A big pot
· A stove
· A day mostly at home to monitor.
· Most recipes call for a little vinegar, but I never use it.
And here’s what you need to do:
1. Place whole chicken or carcass in a big pot and fill almost to the top with water.
2. Add whatever lightly chopped veggies I have, onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, plus maybe garlic, ginger, parsley, rosemary (some recipes say to add parsley and rosemary near the end). You can put all these ingredients in or just whatever you have laying around.
3. I bring the chicken, veggies and water to a boil for 1-2 hours depending on how much meat is left on the chicken, then I let it cool before deboning (you can use all that cooked chicken for chicken salad, add to a soup, sandwiches, or a million other dishes). If there is any scum on the top of the water, you can remove with broth (I never do).
4. Then I return the bones and innards to the water and boil it for another 4-10 hours, adding new water as needed. The longer you boil, the more nutrition in your broth. If I have to go out, I just turn the stove off and resume when you return. If you want even more nutrient from the broth, then you can cook up the 24 hours. I don’t because it starts to get a strong taste that can ruin recipes for me, but it sure is healthy.
5. When finished boiling, I strain out the bones and veggies from the broth.
Now, you might be wonder why you would do this when you can buy chicken broth at the store:
· Quality and flavor: Even organic chicken broth that you buy doesn’t come close to the nutrition that homemade stock has. The first time I made stock and put it in the refrigerator, I was shocked the next day to scoop it out and find that it was like jelly. I had never seen stock like that from a store. Turns out that if your stock is like jelly that means that it has plenty of gelatin. Gelatin means flavor and health for you and your cooking. Next time you are in the grocery, read the back of the chicken stock box and see what ingredients are in there.
· Health: I know I already touched on this above, chicken broth is chock full of minerals and vitamins and other healing properties that are important to build your immunity and even more important if you are recovering from an illness. Read more about the minerals and health benefits that include but at not limited to increased joint strength, improved digestion, overcoming food intolerances, healthier skin, etc.
· Cost: If you use broth/stock as much as I do, those organic containers of chicken broth can get expensive. I know there is the expense of the organic chicken when making it at home, but you can also get a few meals out the cooked chicken depending on how big your family is.