How to make homemade chicken broth for practically free
Photo: Kimi Harris
Chicken broth is one of the most wonderful foods out there. It is full of flavor, incredibly nutritious, and it’s also very frugal to make. There are many different ways to make chicken broth as it is very flexible. This is the most frugal way I know to make it, as it is basically free by using leftover bones and leftover vegetables!
I have two freezer baggies, one for bones, and one for vegetable scraps. Whenever we do any type of bone-in-chicken dinner, 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 broth, 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 that never got used, 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 to really break 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.
For those who save 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.
1. Save in the freezer, in separate freezer baggies, any chicken bones or suitable vegetable scraps until you have enough to make a pot of broth. Examples of suitable vegetables: Carrot peelings (washed before peeled), celery leaves or ends, leftover chopped onions, zucchini pieces, mushrooms and mushroom stems.
2. 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.
3. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Use a spoon to skim off any foam as it rises.
4. Turn down heat low enough to just keep at a low simmer, and simmer for 3-24 hours (the longer the better).
5. Strain through a fine sieve (for a really well strained broth, also line it with cheesecloth) into a heat-safe bowl.
6. Salt well (up to 2-4 teaspoons of unrefined salt per 4 cups of broth), and enjoy in a soup or even just gently salted and topped with fresh herbs.
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