While really an essential all year round, chicken broth is especially appreciated once fall rolls around. I definitely consider it a fall essential. As colds and flues start appearing, homemade chicken broth plays it’s historical role of nourishing and protecting those sick. As cold weather appears, it warms tummies and soothes you from the inside out. Chicken broth (or stock) is also an important source of calcium, especially vital for those you don’t drink or eat dairy, but highly beneficial for everyone.
I’ve experimented with many different ways to make chicken broth/stock, but the following recipe is one my most used methods. It balances expense and taste. I personally find that using some leftover bones and some raw bone in chicken pieces make the best tasting broth. But why go through the (very little) trouble of making your own chicken broth? Let me give you 6 reasons.
1) Better use of Resources
Throwing away the bones of chickens is truthfully a terrible waste (though it occasionally happens even in our home). Those bones are full of minerals such as calcium that can be used to nourish your family. I am not a vegetarian, however I feel that we should treat the death of an animal with respect and part of that respect is utilizing every part of that chicken as much as possible.
2) Saves Money
And when we do that, we win be saving money too! We don’t have to buy those expensive “natural” boxes of chicken broth in the store.
3) More Nutritious
Not only do we save money making our own, but it’s so much more nutritious. Even the natural brands are very watered down and poor nutritionally speaking. They use coloring (natural ones) and “natural flavorings” often to make up for the poor quality of the stock. Less natural brands can be full of refined salts and MSG. Making your own broth gives you a mineral rich, nutritious base for all sorts of wonderful meals.
4) It Tastes Better
Are you really that surprised that homemade broth tastes better? Good nutrition is most always paired with superior taste. We love homemade broth so much that we will sometimes sip it in mugs simply salted. (Yes, you will need to add salt).
5) Improves Your Cooking
A good homemade chicken broth gives you the foundation for making delicious soups and sauces and a myriad of other uses. You can cook your grains and legumes in it for extra nutrition and taste (which helps improve mineral absorption if you are concerned about phytic acid’s impact). You can flavor stir fry’s, chicken pot pie, taco filling and many other dishes with it. Having chicken broth on hand gives you the ability to make some wonderful dishes easily.
6) Gives You Many Health Benefits
Besides the rich nutrition you get from it, you also get other health benefits. An excellent (long) article on the topic was published by the Weston Price Foundation, called Why Broth is Beautiful. Here we learn that the gelatin rich broth helps the digestibility of our entire meal, supports liver function, as well as aiding bone and teeth health through the easily absorbed minerals.
I hope that if you aren’t already sold on homemade chicken broth’s benefits that you soon will be! I try to make a pot of it every week and can easily use it up for our family of three in that same week. It’s one of the most simple things you can make in the kitchen too. I have made chicken broth many ways, such as using chicken necks and backs, all leftover bones stripped of the meat, all raw meat on bones, using all whole vegetables, using leftover vegetable scraps saved from a week of chopping etc. All to say, the art of making your own chicken broth is very, very flexible. The following recipe is what I use most often as I have found that it results in a delicious tasting broth, is frugal and I get consistent results from it.
To increase the calcium of your broth, make sure you add the apple cider vinegar to the stock and that you cook it for long periods of time-12-24 hours, but not beyond that time as off flavors can start to develop. It was found in more than one study that the calcium content increases through length of cooking time when in an acidic liquid. (1) You can also let the bones sit in the acidic water for about an hour before heating. This may allow more minerals to leech from the bones.
Many find using their slow cooker the easiest way to make homemade chicken broth, though I still hesitate in cooking an acidic liquid for long periods of time in slow cookers which may contain levels of lead that could potentially be leeched out. However, this is a very easy way to maintain the right temperature.
1 chicken carcass (or a bag of drumstick bones from the freezer, see note below)
1-2 pound of raw drumsticks or chicken legs (I keep mine ready and frozen in the freezer)
3-5 chicken feet (see note below), optional (I also keep these frozen in the freezer)
Any gizzards from the cavity of the chicken, taken out before cooking, optional
4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 3 inch pieces
4 celery, washed and cut into 3 inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 bay leaf, optional
15 peppercorns, optional
A few sprigs of thyme , optional
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
Dump all of the ingredients into a large stock pot and cover with filtered water about an inch or two above the top of the ingredients. To draw out more of the calcium from the bones, let sit for an hour at this point at room temperature, optional. Bring to a low simmer and cover. You should never boil stock. Keep at a very low simmer for 3-24 hours, skimming any foam that may rise to the top. The longer you simmer the more flavor and minerals leach out into the water. I find that 12 hours work well for me, go past 24 hours and it will become bitter and too dark.Once done, cool slightly and then pour through a colander. You can further strain the broth by pouring through cheesecloth, though I never bother.
You can also make this using a slow cooker, using the same directions as above and cooking on low.
Whenever I make drumsticks or any other type of chicken on bone, I stick them in a freezer bag and place them in the freezer until we have enough to make a pot of stock. Although it seems a little strange at first to save bones that people have eaten off, a 12 hour simmer is going to kill any “coodies”. But if you would rather, just have your family cut their meat off the bones.
Regarding the chicken feet, some find this practice barbaric, however remember that using all parts of the chicken show proper respect to the chicken. The feet are an excellent source of gelatin. Find them at Asian stores or from local farmers.
Source: 1) http://www.springerlink.com/content/p7u013w7360016w2/
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Thanks for the good reminders of why I should do this again!
Oh man!! I have been wanting to do this but I tend to be quite squeamish when it comes to raw meats and especially all the things you listed. I understand and appreciate the benefits I just don’t know if I can handle chicken feet and gizzards. Thanks for the post!! Also, I am very excited about your plastic posts to come.
I was just the same! I’ve gotten over it (slowly) for the most part now though. 🙂
Our local Chinese grocery store sells chicken hulks (bones of a chicken from which have been taken the major meat components) at three for $1. Just this week we took three of these bags, added carrots, celery, onion, some soya sauce, a little salt and pepper, bay leaves and water to make over 12 litres of chicken soup stock. This will become the basis of soups, gravies, stews and most importantly, some reduced concentrated chicken liquid whicih makes gravies so delectable.
Thanks for the tip!
Also, I can get free beef bones cut into chunks which have good marrow for doing the same for beef stock!
Do you use the organ meat from store bought chickens? I’m having a hard time finding store bought chicken that I feel comfortable eating the organ meat. When we are able to purchase well cared for chix (from a friend), I always use the organ meat.
Thyme adds such a lovely flavor to stock, please don’t skip it. I always keep it in the freezer (purchased on clearance, of course!) and toss it in the stock pot.
I try to only use organic storebought organ meats. 🙂
Can you comment on using filtered water? I have to buy it from the store, and that is what keeps me from making stock more regularly. Our city water here in Seattle is pretty good, it comes from the mountains. Can I get by with that?
Hey a fellow-Washingtonian. I am in Lynnwood and I know my water has flouride and other nasties that I would like to filter out. And a filter is on my wish list. I, for now, do use tap. And have made stock with the tap and it was fine as far as taste goes.
are you saying to put the gizzards in the stock pot? huh, i’ve never done that – i guess i always thought i had to eat the organ to obtain its nutrients. thanks for the tip!
I can’t remember who, but I learned that from another blogger who claimed that she had one of the best broths ever. It turned out that the lady who made it said her secret was using plenty of organ meats in it. I’ve used the liver with great results.
Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS
That’s cool to know! I always add some organs even though it is a “no-no” among the pros. We enjoy our stock so much. Fun to find out this is someone’s secret!
Great post, Kimi.
Timely post. I’ll be making lots stock soon as I have lots of bones (bought a big bag of them – from pastured birds at a local farm). Also lots of feet.
I must say that the first time I used chicken feet, I was kind of squeemish. But I’ve totally gotten used to it. I snip off the nail / first joint of each toe. I think you get more gelatin that way.
Just made chicken stock overnight so I could have chicken soup today. I used bones I had saved in the freezer. Thought it funny that today’s post was on the same day I made stock.
I make chicken broth/stock every time we eat a whole chicken, my freezer is full of mason jars with broth/stock. I, like you, hate to throw away an entire chicken carcass when it has so many uses. I always strain mine through a collandar, however, my issue comes after that step. I’ve read that it’s good to let sit in the fridge over night and then skim off the hardened fat on the surface. This is fine, however, the broth/stock has completely hardened and turned to jello by then (sounds gross, I know!). How can I avoid this with still being able to skim off the fat on the top? I’d like to have a fluid, “clean” looking broth.
Anna, That’s just a sign that you have a lovely gelatin rich stock! Don’t worry about it and enjoy the fact that you’ve made such a wonderful broth. 🙂
Anna- the more gelatin the better the stock is for you. Read the link above. “Broth is Beautiful”
What I did this last time is put the hot stock in half gallon mason jars and then put it in a pan in ice water to cool. The fat rises to the top so it is really easy to skim off with a ladel or a measuring cup (1/4 is what I used). I used this method because I freeze my stock right away, well most of it. I use a huge stock pot an make like 3 gallons at a time. That way I always have some on hand when I need it.
We buy chicken backs, feet and necks through a local farmer here who does awesome taking care of their chickens- Joel Salatin! Anyway, I am really glad to see this post because I think it is something people should do more often!
Oh btw- you can use the fat plus stock to make a very tasty greasy rice! Just add enough salt- so delicious!
Oh yes, don’t forget to make some turkey stock after Thanksgiving!
I started making my own bone broth from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook after a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. I only put in herbs and maybe garlic and onions in for the 24 hour cooking. I like to add the vegetables later, when making the soup.
And it’s true, with only salt, I love the first bowl straight from the strainer dipped with yummy artisan bread and butter.
Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama
I love to use turkey backs/necks and chicken feet to make mine! That is my favorite and makes the best stock. I don’t usually do the apple cider vinegar (the couple times I tried it, it didn’t seem to make a difference for me), but I do the long, slow heating.
Also, DON’T skim the fat off!! That is excellent stuff! You NEED that fat. I always make sure I keep as much as possible with mine and put it in my soups. 🙂
The apple cider vinegar helps draw the calcium out of the bones, but it won’t make an obvious difference to you in taste or texture.
I love using turkey backs and necks too! So delicious. As much as I love chicken broth, turkey broth is even better.
Oh, and as far as the fat goes. You can also skim part of all of it and add fat back in when making your soup so you have more control of how much fat is in your broth. Depending on how much skin I used when making the stock I personally find that it can get unpleasantly fatty. But it can be saved to be used for other projects quite successfully.
Krystal Wight Armstrong
So one can save just the fat alone in glass freezer containers, right along side the broth? That sounds better than taking all the fat away for good, I always felt like seeing some of those tiny oily drops on the top of chicken soup, is what made it a good soup broth. Though I wonder how you know how much to add back in when making chicken soup, later?
I have made my own chicken stock several times. It’s nice being able to cook soups with my own broth instead of spending money at the store for something so simple.
To store …. do you pour the stock in glass mason/canning jars or in plastic containers/bags? How do you usually thaw the stock once frozen? And … how long is the stock good for once frozen? Thanks 😉
I freeze my stock in wide mouth pint jars. You only need to thaw it a bit and then the frozen block of stock falls right out. If I’m in a real pinch, I slowly warm the jar in water and the stock comes out in about 15 min.
This is one of my favorite things to make. I just bought my weekly chicken today, a nice big roaster from the Amish market. Everyone loves my chicken soup.Thanks for sharing and letting everyone know what a nutritious and economical thing making broth is.
I love a good stock. I live in AZ so in the summer I put mine in a slow cooker in the garage to keep it from heating up the house. During the rest of the year I just use my big stockpot and do it the old-fashioned way 🙂
I always make broth with my roasted chicken carcass. It makes for an easy clean up too. I always roast on a rack over a glass pan and scrape the drippings into the crockpot. Gives it great color and flavor. I save the neck and tail piece raw and then I pick whatever meat off that we don’t eat and save for soup or cassarole. Put the carcass, neck, tail, drippings and similar seasonings as you Kimmi into the crock pot and turn it on low. Thanks for the addition of the vinegar and the organs. I had not known to do either. I will absolutly be doing that next time. I cook it all night and then cool and strain when I get to it the next day. I was storing mine in mason jars in the freezer but have swithed to ice cube trays which I crack into ziplock bags once frozen. It makes for quick usage. Thawing a quart jar in a pinch is almost impossible! I always put a lot of liquid on my pot roast and save all the broth the same way. I have several bags full of chicken and beef stock cubes for my cooking pleasure! Broth is BEAUTIFUL!!
I had no idea you could use the bones of cooked chicken for broth. I can’t wait to make some broth. Homemade, with organic ingredients is far superior to store bought, in my opinion. Thanks so much for this post.
Cynthia, don’t use bones from cooked chicken only baked or roasted chicken bones are used as the minerals are all still there.
I had wondered if you could add the organ meat to the stock. Someone gave me the tip to put everything in the pot and add the apple cider vinegar then let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning it’s all ready to go and can simmer all day long for soup or whatever else you’re making for dinner.
Hi Kimi, I Love making my own chicken stock , I don’t do it very often these days , When I make my chicken and veg soup I just fry up the onions and put in the chicken add water simmer for a hour or so then I add all the vegetables
then I have my chicken and veg soup ! I love any kind of soup ! So glad it is spring here in Western Australia so glad winter is over I love the warmer weather looking forward to BBQ’s and salads and smoothies !
visit sherrie’s blog
That lovely fat is called “schmaltz” and is just terrific for cooking! When I’m making a chicken stir fry, I’ll use the schmaltz for the vegetable browning fat.
My grass farmer sells bags of odds and ends for the purpose of making stock. She adds the backs, necks, feet and other parts. If you are squeamish, all you have to do is open the package and dump it in!
Homemade stock is one reason I wish I had a second freezer. I usually make it at least two gallons at a time and eight quart jars take up most of my freezer!
Chicken broth is so easy to make and don’t forget about other stocks. Several people mentioned turkey broth. When there’s a sale on whole wild caught salmon I buy it and ask the seller to fillet it for me. The “discards” are wrapped separately for me to take home and put into my large crock pot, doing the same thing as with other broths (although I don’t add veggies and herbs, just the vinegar. All that stuff is added in my soup later). The difference is in the cooking. Since fish is a more delicate meat with smaller bones, cooking time is cut way down. Sometimes I end up with more frozen containers of fish broth in my freezer than I know what to do with. No worries, just add one fish broth in addition to the frozen chicken or veggie broths (for my soup of the week) and you won’t notice the difference. In other words, the fish taste doesn’t come through if it’s diluted with other flavors. However, homemade fish chowder this time of year…yum!
I really like using my pressure cooker for broth making. I don’t bother with the vinegar because many of the chicken bones and even some beef/pork bones get mushy after cooking 1.5 hours in the cooker.
Also, mixed bones make a nice, all-purpose broth. I keep a bag in the freezer and if we’re having cuts of meat that we don’t eat frequently (because we don’t have a side of it in the freezer at the moment) then it goes into a catch all bag and gets used when it’s full.
I was wondering how to store chicken broth in glass containers without them busting in the freezer? Also, what kind of jars can I use? Thank you!
My broth is always boiling, I am putting it on the smallest hob and on the lowest heat and on the simmering ring as well and it still boils. Is there any way I can make it simmer?
Try sitting your pot on half the burner.
This will be my first attempt at making Chicken broth. I feel rather ridiculous asking this, but after you have made your broth and strained it, what is the next step? Do you just put it in the jar, screw the lid on and then pop it in the freezer or fridge? I am really a beginning cook and don’t know a lot of the basics.
Is this anything like canning where you have to make sure the lid is sealed a special way?
Monday i asked my husband to kill the chicken. Today i’ve got a big pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove. Simple as that! 🙂
hi kim! thank you so much for this blog and your class online..i am loving it!!
i was wondering, if you use bones or a leftover chicken carcass and then 1-2 punds of raw drumsticks, what do you do with the meat on the drumsticks or chicken legs after you are done making your broth? thanks!
Stephanie M at Together In Food
Kimi, Thanks for a very informative post. I especially liked the health benefits listed in #6; in fact, I linked to this post in my latest post about “Creating Something Out of Nothing,” here: http://togetherinfood.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/creating-something-out-of-nothing-stock-compost/.
Janet, I’d shred the meat off the drumsticks and use it in chicken soup, chicken enchiladas or tacos, chicken salad, or whatever else you like shredded chicken in!
I want to know if you can your stock in jars throught a pressure cannining method, does it maintain it’ health benefits?
If you pressure cook the bones you wont need to add cider -eck. The bones will disintegrate after 20 minutes on medium heat.
That’s what I do. When the broth is ready the bones can be smashed in your fingers. I would like to know exactly how much calcium is in a cup of chicken broth?
I’ve been making chicken soup at home. A bit more stuff than just broth but my point is to agree with you. The BROTH is WONDERFUL !!! I take it to work for lunch several times a week. It’s better than ANYTHING in a can that I’ve ever had. I do keep broth in the freezer from my soup adventures though for other recipes. Thanks for your info and recipe.
If a person cannot use vinegar because of yeast, can one substitute for another acidic liquid like Lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice or pineapple juice? Would the acid from these also help to leach the calcium and minerals from the bones.?
Any idea as to why someone would become tired after consuming homemade chicken broth? My Naturopathic advised me to have some everyday for my health (issues) but I find myself getting extremely fatigued 10-15 minutes after consuming it. It lasts about an hour (give or take).
What ingredients are you using to make the broth?
If any of your ingredients contain gluten, that could be the cause. Also…important to note that you should use fresh onions. Don’t leave cut onions in the fridge. Use or freeze immediately as they quickly and efficiently absorb bacteria.
Well, this is obviously a timeless post! I love that it’s 2 years old and people are still commenting! So, my biggest question that I believe has been answered was is it okay to use cooked chicken bones, etc. to make broth? I gather from the comments that yes, it is okay…
I was wondering if you can mix cooked and raw bones? I have a chicken carcass that I cooked as well as a few backbones and thigh bones that I cut out of the chicken before cooking it and are stored in my freezer.
I have heard that roasting the bones before making the broth gives it a richer flavor. I’ve tried it a couple of times and it all depends on how much time I have. I also divide the broth. I’ll have some snack sized zip lock bags where I put a small amt. of broth so I can add it to something that needs just a little extra liquid. Then I use quart & gallon sized freezer zip lock bags,making sure you leave enough space for expansion. Then I put the bags single layered on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. When frozen, it’s easier to stack in the freezer.
BTW…. does anyone have any ideas on how to organize your freezer? I really hate rummaging thru frozen packages and bags when I trying to find something!!!! We have tried to place chicken on one shelf,beef on another,etc but when we are in a hurry, they just get shoved back into the freezer!
Here’s a great tip for storing your chicken stock – pour the stock into muffin tins and pop them in the freezer. Each muffin tin will yield about 1/2 cup of stock. Once frozen, pop the stock from the tins and put them into a resealable freezer bag and back in your freezer. Then, when you are ready to use, it’s easy to pull out exactly the right amount needed for your recipe (i.e. if you need 2 cups of stock, then use 4 portions).
I too was having trouble keeping track of baggies of soup and stock in my freezer. I let them freeze flat then stood them up in a white plastice square container that I had 2 of side by side. One I stood up chicken broth bags like books and in the other I stood up sound.
It worked for awhile but I got to many similar soups so I have been saving all my glass jars. Cashew butter and coconut oil and anything in a glass jar I can reuse.it’s much easier to keep track of what is what and what’s older so I use it before the new stuff. I like a size variety so I have 2 cup amount for some recipes and 1/2 cup amounts for others. I also use the muffin tin idea to have a Baggie of frozen discs of 1/2 cup broth. I do that with herbs as well. I have a mini muffin tin and I buy a huge amount of herbs in the fall after my summer ones have grown out I clean and chop finely all the herbs and put a big spoonful in each muffin sectoon then put a bit of water and freeze. Then pop them out and into a ziploc just for each herb then I just toss a disc or two of what ever I need into what I’m cooking. I do the same with applesauce in regular muffin tins so I always have homemade sauce in the 1/2 cup amount for muffins or a child’s snack. I do the same with grilled onions cut and grill about 10 onions and slowly caramelize them for about 20 minutes and freeze them in the muffin tins and then in a Baggie. It’s perfect for sandwiches or soups and eggs whatever. Thanks
I stood up soup not sound, silly typing fingers:-)
I made a yummy stock last week and left it in the back of my fridge due to company…having long appreciated your posts, i thought id ask you: what’s the longest you manage to keep chicken stock in the fridge and safely consume?? I’d hate to waste it! Thanks 🙂
I have been making my own stock for quite a while. The boiled chicken makes an excellant chicken and rice (brown of course). I never thought to use already cooked bones and i will do that from now on. My recipe is similar, I believe however you do it it has got to be better than store bought. I love your comment about respecting the animal by using every bit you can in your cooking.
I am trying to follow the therapeutic GAPS diet for awhile, which encourages consumption of all the fat (I get nearly all meats from local pasture-raised livestock, so I assume the fat is more wholesome too), and got this great tip from a class on it: After the long simmering, I take all the skin, soft joints bits, and the organ meats and puree with a little of the broth in a blender, then add that back into the broth. It makes a cloudy broth that gourmet cooks would frown on, but wonderful for the nourishing, gut-healing soups I make each week.
What do I do with the mushy carrots/onion/celery that are in the stock pot?