Mar 22, 2013

Making Free Chicken Stock & Bone Broth

Because I make most of our meals from scratch, I probably go through a lot more chicken/turkey/pork stock than most people. But because I do a lot of cooking, I also have all of the ingredients to make my own stock. And the best part is? It's free!

There are lots of good reasons to make your own stock or, as new trendy healthy cooking proponents call it, bone broth. The traditional distinction between broth and stock is that broth is made with meat and stock is made with bones. Those lines are blurring, but using bones to make your stock is the best way to get all of the minerals, gelatin, calcium, and other goodies out of them.

To make good stock, you need to start with bones. I use the bones left over from carving a chicken or turkey, or even steak and roast bones left over. Don't get grossed out- you're going to be boiling it! If I don't have time to make stock right away, I toss the bones in the freezer for later.

For the vegetables that give stock its rich flavors, I use all the ends of veggies I cut up for other uses. So, for example, every time I cut up an onion, I save the top and bottom in my veggie bag in the freezer. The same goes with celery bottoms, carrot ends, parsley stems, garlic tips, and other fresh vegetable detritus. When I have enough veggies and some bones, I make a batch of stock.

Start by pulling out your largest stock pot or dutch oven. A chicken carcass can make 16-20 cups of stock. Put the carcass in the pot and cover with about 6 quarts of water. Add a quart bag full of your veggie scraps along with some salt and pepper to taste. You can keep the pepper in whole corns because you'll be straining it later. Also keep the skins on the onions as they will impart a deeper color to the bone broth. Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the pot to help pull the calcium out of the bones.

Bring the stock to boiling, then reduce to a simmer for a minimum of four hours. If the water level recedes, top it back up, but not within the last hour of simmering. Taste the stock as you go and add more salt or pepper as needed. Let the stock cool down then strain it through a pasta strainer into a large bowl. Package into 2 or 4 cup containers (or quart Mason jars), label, and freeze. Be sure to leave at least one inch of headroom in the containers as frozen liquids expand.

Use your stock as you would any commercial stock. I use mine as the base for soups, as the liquid to cook rice in, or even as a nice hot drink before bed. Enjoy!