Concentrated Chicken Base For Instant Gratification
For years I bought whatever low-sodium stock in a box that was on sale. Eventually I graduated to organic broths, and at $5 a box I look back now and hastily shake my finger at my former-self! What a massive waste of money that was. I have never found a broth or bouillon that does not contain MSG or MSG alternatives, and at this point I don’t even bother to look. Broth is painfully easy to prepare with whatever bones and scraps you have on hand, and just a few bones makes a lot of stock. I found bone broth intimidating at first but it could not get any easier, or any cheaper.
Spending anything on a carton of bland chemical packed broth is a waste, if you buy that you are truly doing your tummy an injustice. Chicken soup is an age old all-in-one remedy, our ancestors really had it right. In addition to simply soothing gurgling, inflamed stomachs, stock also repairs damage and neutralizes toxins. I know lots of people prefer fish, pork, beef or veal stock but for me, it’s all about the chicken for many reasons. Real bone broth of any variety is wonderful for healing sad bellies, and all you have to do to make great broth is keep a stash of bones and scraps in the freezer. Things that would otherwise be compost make beautiful nutrient rich stock. After your winner-winner chicken dinner, keep the bones, toss them in a freezer bag, and that’s it.
Once you have hoarded a few bones, just toss everything into a pot with some cold water, vinegar and salt, and make yourself this wondrous super food with little to no effort at all. I am officially fully converted to homemade bone broth, I never, ever, buy “stock” in a box. Over the past several months I have work, work, worked at mastering this nourishing pantry necessity. This tutorial is intended to help sustain the tree of knowledge, it is my way of contributing and sharing what I have learned. I honestly hope this helps others to take it upon themselves to pick up with this age old practice of soulful soup making.
If you are skeptical, let me assure you that I have a house of really picky eaters, and I sure don’t have an abundance of spare time. I always try my best to do what I can to insure everyone is well fed, and properly nourished. Bone broth is the foundation of any really great, nourishing meal, it is the MVP but no one knows it is even there! Packed with gelatin, vitamins, and minerals, bone broth is nature’s super supplement.
- Cold, Clean, Water- Slowly heating cold water with your broth helps it to build flavor. Using filtered water if you have public water is especially important. Ideally, you want a good quality water filter that will remove fluoride and chemicals. I have a sealed well that gets tested from time to time, the earth is my water filter. Even some wells need filters to filter out sediment or pathogens. Some well water will have an odor or produce too much sediment. If that’s you, you probably know it. Really, filtering your water is most important if you get your water from a public water supply.
- Vinegar- Two to Four Tablespoons per batch. You can also use lemon juice. This helps to extract calcium and minerals from the bones, it also balances the flavor.
- REAL SEA SALT- Using real sea salt will give you minerals and flavor. I use about a tablespoon per 5 quarts of water, this varies depending on how big of a pot I am using. The concentrate will be super salty just like regular stock base.
- Compost Scraps- Egg shells (soaked in cold vinegar water until squidgy, this adds more calcium to your broth), celery , carrot peel, onion, any veggie scraps. This makes use of “waste” and adds vitamins and flavor.
- Meat Discards- Bones, scraps, trimmings, Bones from cooked meats such as a roasted chicken, t-bone steak bones, rib bones etc. Pieces of trimmed off fat, cartilage and silver skin leftover from trimming tenderloins, briskets, legs, shoulders or other parts. About one carcass picked of its meat, or ten to 12 pieces of whatever. ex: thighs, drumsticks, wings, feet… one really full gallon sized bag or container. I bought an extra, extra large crock pot to accommodate two to three chicken carcasses at once.
- Most Importantly, Collagen Packed Parts- Chicken Feet, Pig Feet, Knuckles, Tail etc. Above I mentioned cartiledge scraps but purchasing marrow bones, knuckles, tail, feet or even wings specifically for stock is great. Chicken feet are my favorite, you can also purchase backs from many farms that sell their chickens in parts. These parts with cartilage are what give you a concentrated, gel that is rich with collagen and gelatin. If you can not find natural, pastured grass-fed/organic feet or marrow bones consider adding a high quality powdered gelatin. When I don’t have a stash of chicken feet in my freezer I follow the “soup” directions on the gelatin carton and add a few tablespoons. The gelatin is necessary for a truly nourishing broth because it is this that helps to spackle the damage. See this post “the benefits of gelatin in your diet” from DIY Natural. I use Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin whenever I need “commercial” gelatin.
-Ten to twenty chicken feet gives you a pot of stock that can be reduced to a very gelatinous concentrate for a quick-fix of stock. One tablespoon can be diluted into up to 2 cups of hot water. I pay $3 per pack of ten, so for $6 I get 48+ Servings.
What is the difference between stock and broth? Typically broth and stock are terms that are used interchangeably, both “stock” and “broth” are boiled or simmered bones, vegetables, meat etc. Broth is a thoroughly seasoned liquid that you can serve hot as a soup. Stock is under seasoned or not seasoned at all, it is intended to be a cooking ingredient that enhances the flavor of a composed dish, not a stand alone product. Primarily this term is important to professional kitchens, you don’t want to produce a thoroughly seasoned broth to use across an entire menu. If you are preparing seafood you would want less salt, and if you are preparing chicken you might want more seasoning than let’s say … beef. According to these textbook standards I never, ever, never make “stock.” I enjoy the convenience of a nice salty cup of instant-liquid-gold. As far as recipe writing goes, this makes it much more difficult to relay exactly how much salt is needed in a finished recipe. This is why salting to taste, is always critical. You just might not like salt as much as I do.
- Use a large stainless stock pot or ceramic crock pot and simmer your broth ingredients for 8, 24, or even 36 hours. (you literally just toss everything in there and turn it on) You can go as long as three days with your broth, I have heard some people go even longer. Be sure to add water here and there as needed to prevent scorching. I like to put the temperature on high but if you are out of the home you might prefer the low setting. It is important to simmer for at least 8 hours to extract as much of the minerals and gelatin as possible.
- The pressure cooker when properly used can reduce your time by extracting everything by removing air and adding force. It does not make the bones as dry and brittle as a very long simmer but the pressure cooker method produces a solid quality broth without guessing if your stock will be scorched in the morning. It is a great short cut if you want nutrient dense broth in a hurry.
- I use both crock pot and pressure cooker methods. Go with what you prefer but keep in mind, pressure cookers need a babysitter. I like to pressure cook my broth and then simmer it long and slow also. You want to simmer the bones until they are brittle and dry looking.
1. Insure that your pressure cookers parts are correctly in place. The valve must be clear, the rubber ring must be in place etc. Follow your manufacturers instructions for proper use of your pressure cooker. I have this model.
2. Place collected roasted chicken bones and chicken feet into a 6 to 8 cup pressure cooker. (or your stock pot or crock pot) Toss in vegetable scraps if you have them, I typically use 1 whole onion chopped up. Some garlic cloves and dried sage are nice but entirely optional.
3. Add salt if desired, approximately 1 tablespoon. This varies according to your taste. Add two to three tablespoons of vinegar. (apple cider or white vinegar work fine)
4. Cover your ingredients with cold water to the max fill line on your pressure cooker. (or about 1 1/2″ to 2″ below the rim of your stock or crock pot)
5. Properly seal up your pressure cooker and bring it up to heat or “make it scream” over medium heat. Once the lid starts rocking and squeeling with a consistent rattle, rattle, rattle simmer for 45 minutes to an hour reducing heat as necessary. The pressure cooker should have a steady click, click, click, and it should have an even flow of steam. The simmering time does not start until your pressure cooker is ready and singing steadily. I personally would go up to an hour longer (two hours total) so that the minerals and fat are fully extracted, but I can not recommend that to you, as it may void your warranty, it might explode and blind you … etc.
- For Broth in a crock pot or stock pot , simmer for at least 8 hours but as long as three days. Generally I use the high setting for at least 24 hours. I have this crock pot that I use JUST FOR BONE BROTH. (If I was feeding an army I would consider using it for two turkey breasts or two roaster chickens)
6. Once your time has elapsed remove the pressure cooker from the heat. Allow the pressure cooker to rest for 15- 20 minutes until the pressure valve (as pictured directly above) falls back down. To release the pressure more quickly you can CAREFULLY use a wooden spoon to SLOWLY, very SLOWLY release pressure from the top valve. This will release a lot of steam and it might scare the snot out of you. If this is not recommended in your user manual then don’t do it… Ahem. No matter what do not open your pressure cooker until the “done timer” has fallen back down.
|This is after 45 minutes of pressure cooking.|
7. Carefully pour broth contents into a strainer, I use a combo of a mesh strainer and a regular colander. Really smoosh the bones around to get all of the gunk out. Strain the contents once more , this is especially important for chicken feet that have little teeny bones and such.
8. Cool down the broth until it has reached body temperature or pour into hot jars. (hot broth + cold jar = shattered jar… not that I can speak from experience or anything.)
Filtering- I do not filter my broth unless I plan to put it into a mug to drink plain. I do this per serving, not in large batches. If the seasoned broth is being used for a gravy or stew the specks of pepper and such are no biggie. I prepare my cuppa broth by placing one concentrated cube into a cup and pouring boiling water over top. Then I stir to dilute the broth into the water, and pour it through a funnel with a coffee filter.
- To reduce the broth into a chicken base-
- Place the strained broth into a pot and simmer, un-covered over medium heat for approximately one hour or until reduced by roughly half. The wider the surface of your pan, the quicker the reduction will be … the shorter you need to stand there making sure it’s not burning or over reducing. I have simmered stocks overnight, gone to reduce them and voila! I lost track of time and ended up with a burnt meat caramel reduction that ended up in the trash.
- Once reduced pour into hot jars, or a miniature muffin tin or silicone mold. A six quart batch of stock contains roughly four quarts of finished stock. This is reduced by roughly half that will give you about two quarts of finished, condensed chicken base. If divided among miniature muffin tins you can make up to 48 individual bouillon “cubes.” Room temperature base can be poured into your muffin tin or mold and frozen. Once frozen, remove the base from the mold and store in freezer bags.
- I use a Silicone Brownie Pan just for bone broth cubes. Silicone molds whether intended for baking, candy making or ice, work really well because the frozen broth can be popped right out. Using a muffin tin works for regular muffin sized broth muffins. The miniature pan you really need to dig at or slam like a crazy person to get the frozen broth out…