A few years ago, this thing called “Bone Broth” started to become all the rage – people were going on about it being a super food, with it’s healing properties etc etc. The person who came up with this term deserves a marketing award – they took something that people have been doing for hundreds of years, re-marketed it, and voila – new trend. Which leaves me thinking that there must be something that my mother/grandmother etc did that I can re-market into something that sounds hip and healthy, and make a fortune.
Bone Broth (aka stock) is really easy to make, and is one of a frugal girl’s best kitchen tricks. It does double duty – you save all of your leftover bones, vegetable bits etc, throw in some spices, put it all in the crock pot and 12 hours later, you have this wonderful rich soup base that cost you almost nothing to make. As an added bonus, it adds humidity to your house, acts as a chicken scented Plug-In for your house, and provides a use for all of the empty yogurt and sour cream containers that otherwise would have ended up in your recycle bin.
Here is how to work this into your kitchen routine:
-the chicken you buy most often will likely be bone-in (this is cheapest and most often on sale), so put aside a rinsed out, recycled Ziploc bag, and save the bones from your meals, and stick them into the bag. Store the bag in the freezer.
-when you make salads, chop onions, crush garlic, etc, take the onion ends, celery leaves, garlic bits, and any leftover veggies that are starting to wilt (on the day you clean out the fridge) and add them to this freezer bag. Note: I don’t use peelings for stock – if you wouldn’t eat it, it shouldn’t go into the stock. It’s important to differentiate between ‘wilting’ and ‘rotting’. Wilting is easily remedied by soaking in cold water. Rotting food should never be used for stock.
-when your bag is full, throw it all into a large crock pot (or stock/large pot pot if you don’t have a crock pot) along with a couple of bay leaves, some peppercorns and any bits of herbs you have in the fridge (parsley, dill etc). A little dash of vinegar (I’ve heard) helps to bring out more vitamins while cooking. Cover with water, and turn it on for (12 hours on low for stock, and 2 hours at a low boil for the pot on the stove).
-when it’s done, cool the stock down, and package it into freezer safe containers. I strain the liquid to get out any bits first with a sieve. To store the stock, I reuse my yogurt and sour cream containers. Just make sure you don’t fill them with warm/hot stock, since these containers are not meant for warm liquids. Only fill them 3/4 full, since they will expand when frozen. Label them, and stick them in the freezer. When you are ready to use, just thaw them out in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes, and they will pop out like a giant ice cube into your pot. Or thaw in the fridge.
I remember how excited I was when I first started to do this. My mother has been making stock for years, and this has always seemed very normal to me. When I was newly married, I went to my mother in law’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. They had a big turkey, and after dinner, we were putting away all of the leftovers, and they were cutting all the meat off the turkey to freeze. I looked at the bones, and casually asked her “what are you going to do with that?”. She looked at me kinda sideways and said “throw it out”. You can only imagine my horror at the thought of watching the makings of Turkey Soup, and about 3 gallons of stock go into the garbage. When I asked her if I could have it, I watched her face go through several different looks; first confusion, then awkwardness (when she realized I was serious), then pity, then pondering (what could she want to do with this thing?). It was only a few seconds, but it felt like forever. In the end, she let me take it home. Score!!
Homemade broth has a lot of benefits – it is so much healthier for you than the store bought stuff. There is no added salt, MSG or other preservatives. Making it this way is very little effort, helps to use up food you already have, and you can feel good knowing that you are essentially doing the same thing that your Grandma, and her Grandma, and her Grandma did for years.