making chicken stock

Image by joyosity

Ever wonder why fokelore has always included chicken soup as a remedy for the common cold? And why your Grandma’s tastes just so good (so much better than any canned or dry variety ever could)?

The secret is in the broth. Rich, delicious, nourishing homemade soup stock.

Why is chicken soup superior to all the things we have, even more relaxing than “Tylenol?” It is because chicken soup has a natural ingredient which feeds, repairs, and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine. This inner lining is the beginning or ending of the nervous system. It is easily pullled away from the intestine through too many laxatives, too many food additives… and parasites. Chicken soup… heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength. Hanna Kroeger- Ageless remedies from mother’s kitchend

Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth. Dr. Francis Pottenger, author of the famous cat studies as well as articles on the benefits of gelatin in broth, taught that the stockpot was the most important piece of equipment to have in one’s kitchen.
Sally FallonNourishing Traditions

And to add to all the health benefits, for all of us frugally minded mamas…

The public is generally unaware of the large amount of research on the beneficial effects of gelatin taken with food. Gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although gelatin is by no means a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. Thus, gelatin-rich broths are a must for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets. Cont’d from Nourishing Traditions

In a nutshell, homemade stock made of chicken, cow or fish bones, is an incredible source of minerals, electrolytes, and especially gelatin, all of which boost our health through important nutrients or improve our digestion (which goes completely hand in hand with our health and absorption of nutrients).

And (can it get much better?) if your budget cannot allow for large quantities of good quality animal protein, using broth in your soups, stews, rice, pasta sauces, etc. will enable your body to more adequately make use of the protein that you are able to eat!

So how do you make this most nourishing of foods?

Homemade Soup Broth
  • Bones of one chicken, preferably organic or free range (or at the very least hormone and antibiotic free) OR bag of beef bones (I buy mine for $5 a bag from my meat supplier, and this allows me to make a very large pot of stock)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cold water
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 carrots (chopped in large pieces)
  • 2-3 celery sticks (chopped in large pieces)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt
  1. Begin with the chicken or beef bones. If you do not buy whole chickens, you can save the bones from your wings and legs in a bag in the freezer, until you have a sufficient amount (about equal to the size of a chicken carcass).
  2. Put the bones in a large stock pot, completely covered by cold water, add a few couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for about an hour.
  3. Bring to a boil, and remove the scum that rises to the top.Then add onion (chopped in quarters, leave the peel on for a beautiful yellow color in your stock), carrots and celery sticks. I like to save the remnants of these veggies whenever I'm chopping and preparing other dishes, and put them all in a plastic bag in the freezer until I'm ready to make broth. I just dump all these remnant pieces into my broth and it works just fine, and saves money for sure!
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours (the longer, the better, as this will allow the gelatin to be more fully released from the bones, and results in a more flavorful broth). You can add fresh parsley or thyme to your stock in the last 10-15 minutes. Also, add a bit of salt, to bring out the flavors.
  5. Pour through a strainer and set broth aside to cool (in the fridge is best, if you have enough room). Set aside bones and remove all meat for future soups, casseroles, etc. When broth is cool, remove layer of congealed fat from the top and discard.
  6. Put broth in containers (glass is ideal- old pickle or mayonnaise jars, or even canning jars, but plastic yogurt containers work well in a pinch). I like to put mine in several different size containers, so that I can remove the size I need depending on what I am doing (2 cups to add to rice, 2 quarts for making soup, etc.). Many people also freeze broth in ice cube trays, then once frozen, store in a large ziploc to take out small amount at a time.

(Recipe loosely taken from Nourishing Traditions, and partly just from my head)

You may find that the stock does not have that extra strong, store-bought bouillon type of flavor. This is because it is lacking in MSG (yes, even if the ingredients don’t list MSG, it is probably in there in a hidden form or under one of its many other names that manufacturers use to hide its presence).

Adding a bit of extra salt and seasonings to your soups will help to make up for this, although over time you will become accustomed to the more mild (yet richer at the same time) taste of homemade broth and will begin to prefer it, as we have.