We are winding down this weekend, and it was a cold one. This weekend the temperature outside didn’t get above 40 degrees, and it was rainy. In other parts of the country this may be easy, but here in South Louisiana we don’t get these days too frequently, so we stayed at home and inside most of the weekend (except for the a run to the Farmer’s Markets). This kind of weather calls for making broth, so that’s exactly what I did. I get lots of questions about making broth, but it is really very easy. All you need is bones (I usually make chicken broth so we use chicken bones), acid, vegetables, and salt. Here is a little breakdown of each item.
As I mentioned, I usually make chicken broth. We eat chicken regularly and I always buy whole chickens from a local farmer (it’s cheaper than buying them cut up and I get the bones for broth-it’s a win-win). We save all bones-cooked any way, and the raw backs from when I cut up the chicken. All bones get put in a ziptop bag in the freezer until I am ready to use them to make broth. I use all bones too, and I especially like the neck and chicken feet. If you chat with any chicken farmer, they will gladly sell you chicken necks and feet. These bones have a great deal of collagen and make for a very gelatinous broth. The collagen is a superb form of protein and is a great way to support your joints, has a beneficial effect on hair and nail growth, and prevents wrinkles, and cellulite.
An acid is used to help leach the nutrients from the bones. Just as human bones are made up of calcium, phosphorus, and to a lesser extent magnesium; these nutrients are also found in chicken bones. An acidic medium, such as vinegar or lemon juice, will help to pull the minerals from the bones into your broth (by the way, the acid in sodas will also pull the same nutrients from your bones). This does not affect the flavor. I use vinegar and it should be added before starting to boil the bones. In general, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar per 2 chicken’s bones. But honestly, I don’t measure my vinegar I just pour some in the pot. Then let it sit for an hour before starting to boil bones.
The veggies serve 2 purposes-to add flavor and add nutrients. All broth should have onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers for the flavor. And I am usually pretty lazy about cutting these. I quarter the onions, and barely peel the garlic. With celery I assure it is clean and cut in about 6″ sections, and all parts of the barely cut bell pepper get thrown in (and I’ve been known to throw them in whole too). Other veggies that often get used are carrots, leeks, kale (even the stalks that I cut out before cooking kale), greens-mustard, turnip, or beet. I also include the inedible parts of the veggies. Sometimes I will add sea vegetables like kelp, nori, or dulse for extra nutrients. Just like the bones, I usually save any veggies that get cut up and throw them in a ziptop bag in the freezer until broth-making time.
Salt is essential for the delicious taste of broth and with a good salt, additional minerals are a bonus. I use either Himalayan salt crystals or this finely ground salt. The amount needed is based on taste, but if you don’t like the flavor of the broth it’s usually because it doesn’t have enough salt.
When you are ready to make broth, the bones and veggies should be put in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Pour the acid in, and allow it to sit for about an hour. Then put a lid on the pot and put it on high until it comes to a good rolling boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the temperature to a simmer allowing it to come to giggling boil as Jessica Prentice, author of Full Moon Feast, describes it. Once you get it going, it can giggle for a few hours or as long as 24 hours. I usually strive for about 24 hours. When you are ready, scoop the bones and veggies out using a scoop colander and voila, you have your broth. you can keep it refrigerated for about 5 days, but definitely no longer than 7 days. I usually refrigerate a quart and once the broth is cooled, I will freeze it in quart size freezer bags.
Uses for Broth
Broth can be used numerous ways. I use it to make soups, stews, fricassee or gumbo, gravies, casseroles, also to make rice or polenta, and I drink it warmed in a coffee mug sometimes. It really can be used any way you would use water when cooking a savory dish.