First off, let’s get the difference between stock and broth out of the way. When you think stock, think of liquid gold made from bones. When you think broth, think of liquid gold made from meat. To me, they are equal because I use both to make soups and stews, so I tend to use the words interchangeably.
Both taste rich and delicious–superior to anything you can buy canned or boxed at the store. They have a cleaner, richer flavor not impeded by chemicals and preservatives. Okay, I know this point is a bit muddy when you think of mass chicken farms and all the gross injections and who-knows-what type of “food” is fed to the critters, which kinda negates the chemicals point. The solution? Use organic chicken. Or just forge ahead anyway. I tell ya, even with the mass-produced chickens, the broth/stock still tastes great.
Okay, let’s get down to the bones (ha ha!) of making stocks and broths. It’s surprisingly easy for such a rich outcome. I’ve tried a variety of methods and all work well. I’ve used whole raw chickens cut up as well as chicken carcasses leftover from roasted chicken. I’ve even bought chicken bones frozen into a big block from the giant Asian superstore near our home. I’ve sometimes cut the bones into pieces, whacking a hammer onto a knife inserted into the bone as far as I can get it. This whacking business would be far easier with a cleaver, but as of yet we don’t own one. Other times I’ve left the bones intact. I read somewhere that the marrow from the bones flavors the stock even more, so that’s why I chop up the bones when I can.
I absolutely love, though, that you can get such tasty broth from the carcass leftover from roasting a whole chicken. Double duty! Even triple if you shred and save the meat for other meals, which I always do. And you can even freeze the leftover bones/carcasses until you have time to tackle making stock. Less waste is good but less waste PLUS liquid gold is great!
Speaking of less waste, veggie scraps are something else I stuff into resealable freezer bags and use when I make stocks. I just continue to collect scraps until it’s broth time, then the bag contents get dumped into the pot along with all the other goodies to make broths and stocks. I save the ends of onions and their skins, shavings from carrots, carrot and celery ends, stems from parsley and rosemary and thyme, even the bits of cauliflower I don’t use. Just stay away from veggies that will give a bitter taste to the broth, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts.
I’ve made broth using several methods: simmer all day in a large pot, simmer in a crockpot overnight, and cook in a pressure cooker/canner. All work well. The crockpot is easiest, but the downside is the limited size of the pot hence the limited amount of liquid gold you get. If you have a large pot, you can fill it with more water than a crockpot, but you have to babysit a simmering pot all day, which is okay if you are hanging out at home anyway. If you own a pressure cooker/canner, the process is greatly expedited–under two hours total.
If you plan to use your stock soon, just store it in the fridge tightly covered. If not, freezing in bags or containers works beautifully. Problem with freezing is remembering to thaw the broth. Defrosting in the microwave has worked well for me when I don’t plan ahead. Recently, though, I learned that you can preserve broth by pressure canning it. Woo hoo! Since we own a pressure canner (came with hubbster and his tuna making skills), I now use that method. I LOVE LOVE LOVE having jars of broth at the ready.
Homemade Chicken Stock or Broth
(stock made from bones; broth made from meat)
- 1 chicken carcass (not necessary to thaw carcass if it is frozen) or 1 whole chicken, rinsed, cut into 2-inch pieces but save breasts for last 20 minutes of cooking time so you can shred the meat and use it in your recipes (I’ve also tossed in the gizzards, neck, etc. from a whole chicken) or 3 pounds chicken wings (or chicken parts: wings, backs, legs, necks)
- 2 medium onions, halved or quartered (yellow, white, or purple all work well)
- 3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces (okay to use the leafy parts, too)
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- other goodies I’ve tried adding: parsley, whole jalapenos with “X” cut into bottom, green onions
- 1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (helps draw calcium out of the bones)
- 4+ quarts of cold water
- Optional browning of veggies: You can saute onions, carrots, and celery in a tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes to slightly brown them first, but I’ve never done this step.
- Browning/sweating meat: If using chicken meat, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in large pot and saute chicken for about 5 minutes, until no longer pink (cook in batches to avoid crowding the chicken in the pot). Return all pieces of chicken to pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and “sweat” chicken, meaning cook it until juices release, about 20 minutes. I’ve never used this method, but I imagine browning the meat intensifies the flavor hence intensifies the broth.
- Simmering the stock: CROCKPOT METHOD: place chicken, veggies, aromatics, salt, peppercorns, and vinegar into 6-quart crockpot. Add cold water. Simmer on low for 8-12 hours. I usually simmer overnight. STOVETOP METHOD: place chicken, veggies, aromatics, salt, peppercorns, and vinegar into a large pot. Add cold water to cover ingredients by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a low simmer for 6-8 hours. PRESSURE COOKER METHOD: place chicken, veggies, aromatics, salt, peppercorns, and vinegar into pressure cooker. Add cold water to cover ingredients by about 2 inches. Place lid on pressure cooker and lock into place. Bring cooker to pressure over high heat (can take 20+ minutes); reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Allow to cool and pressure to decrease naturally before removing lid. In case you are wondering, I use a 21 1/2 quart All American pressure cooker, but doublecheck your pressure cooker guidebook for instructions/recipes on how long to cook stock and at what pressure.
- Straining stock: When stock/broth has cooled a bit, remove large chunks of solids, then pour liquid through a cloth-lined sieve into a large bowl or pot to remove remaining solids. Cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator. The following day, skim off and discard any layer of hard, congealed fat that forms on the surface. If the broth turns gelatinous, rejoice! That means you have created an extra-rich stock that has extracted collagen from the bones and meat (usually happens when making broth from raw chicken).
- Preserving: Stock/broth can be used within 3-5 days if stored in refrigerator. Or, transfer to airtight containers or resealable freezer bags, then freeze for up to 6 months. If you own a pressure canner, bring stock back to a boil after it has been refrigerated, then place stock/broth into pint or quart jars that have been washed in hot, soapy water, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a damp towel. Place lids that have been sitting in simmering, not boiling, water for 10 minutes onto jars, followed by screwing on the rings. Place in pressure cooker filled with 2-3 inches of water, then follow instructions in your pressure cooker guidebook for sealing and venting air. Process pints for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure; process quarts for 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. High altitudes may require processing at higher pressures; see your pressure cooker/canner guidebook. When pressure canner has cooled, remove lid and jars. Check that all have sealed properly before storing jars.
Sources from which I’ve adapted: Simply Recipes, Annie’s Eats, The Prairie Homestead (this blogger has useful links to her posts about pressure canning and pressure cookers), The Kitchn, The Paupered Chef, Food Network, Martha Stewart
Post shared on The Prairie Homestead Weekly Homestead Hop