Chicken broth is one of the most wonderful foods out there. It is full of flavor and incredibly nutritious! And it’s also very frugal to make, which is why it was one of the first things I mentioned in my 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet series. We actually save a lot of money when making soup based meals often because broth can be very frugal to make. Today, I want to show you an even more frugal method to making chicken broth!
As the contributing writers and I have been working on The Healthy $1 Menu series, we have struggled to put a price on homemade chicken broth – partly because we make it with slightly different methods, causing a fluctuation in price. One of my contributors choose to list hers as “free” because she follows a method which basically just uses food scraps! Broth is wonderfully adaptable, and this is one super-frugal way to make it.
I think that it is such a great method, that I thought I’d share how I make broth using scraps (you can also read my other method here). I’ve referenced this method before, but I thought it was worth showing step-by-step.
I basically have two freezer baggies, one for bones, and one for vegetable scraps. Whenever we do any type of bone-in-chicken (like these Lemon Garlic Drumsticks), we save the bones by placing them in the freezer bag and putting them in the freezer. When I am peeling carrots, have bits and pieces of leftover celery, onion,mushroom stems, etc, I put them in the second bag and also freeze it. When you have enough to make a pot of soup, you dump everything into the pot, add whatever herbs or other additions you want, and then cover with water, bring to a boil, and after a long simmer, they are done! Here are pictures of that process.
For this specific batch, I had saved carrot peelings, a few limp carrots from the bottom of my five-pound bag, a handful of unused mushrooms, and mushroom stems. I choose to add a few things to round out the flavor – two celery sticks, 1 onion, peppercorns, and two bay leaves, but you would have a great broth without those additions.
A few warnings: I like long simmering times as it really breaks down the nutrients in the chicken bones. When you do a long simmer, if you add onion peels at the beginning of the process, they will make your broth bitter. If you’d like to add them for color and nutrients add in the last hour or two of the cooking process. Make sure to rinse all your vegetable scraps too.
When saving vegetable scraps for the cooking process, make sure you always use good vegetables (no moldy or gone-bad ingredients –ever), and that you leave out strong tasting vegetable scraps, such as chard, and beet tops. They will overwhelm the flavor.
- In the freezer, save in separate freezer baggies any chicken bones or suitable vegetable scraps until you have enough to make a pot of soup. Examples of suitable vegetables: Carrot peelings (washed before peeled), celery leaves or ends, leftover chopped onions, zucchini pieces, mushrooms and mushroom stems.
- Dump in a pot and add (optional) two bay leaves, 2-4 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar, 10-15 peppercorns, and any other vegetables you’d like to add to round out the flavor.
- Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Use a spoon to skim off any foam as it rises.
- Turn down heat low enough to just keep at a low simmer, and simmer for 3-24 hours (the longer the better).
- Strain through a fine sieve (for a really well strained broth, also line the fine sieve with cheesecloth) into a heat-safe bowl.
- Salt well (up to 1 tablespoon of unrefined salt per 4 cups), and enjoy in a soup or or even simply well salted and topped with parsley!