One thing I always have on hand and haven’t had to buy from a grocery store, once I learned how easy it is to make, is plenty of homemade stock. It is so easy to prepare and runs circles around canned or boxed products when it comes to taste. Plus, you may not realize this, but a lot of the pre-packaged broth contains MSG and often times is just flavored water, not really a nutrient dense stock of veggies and bones. That means you could be adding toxins to your diet while eliminating the good stuff that comes from a slow-simmered pot of the homemade version.
I haven’t tried to make beef broth yet, but I can whip up chicken and turkey stock while sleeping (with one hand tied behind my back). You can always prep this on your stove top if you are going to be home for a weekend, but your best friend in this adventure is a crock pot. I don’t feel as hesitant to leave my house, go to sleep, and just generally ignore it while chasing three kids when I have it in a crock pot. Something just doesn’t sit right with me about walking out of the house with a giant stock pot at a simmer on a burner.
In our house, we use bone broth in lots of things: finishing sauces, making rice and grains, casseroles, and of course soups. Basically, any savory recipe that calls for a liquid can be partially or completely subbed with bone broth. Mmmm…health booster!
So, what do you need?
Bones from a chicken, of course! If you buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, throw the bones in the crock pot. Sometimes I take off all the skin and whatnot, but other times, I just throw what we don’t eat in the crock pot. Bone broth isn’t fussy! If you buy split chicken breasts from the grocery, just save those bones. The best part of this — you can always just freeze said bones for the next time you want to make stock. It doesn’t have to be done right away. I’m sure I could dig in my freezer and find a bag of bones somewhere for just this purpose (no, this is not a euphemism).
Bones from a chicken
2 ribs of celery, washed and cut in half
1 onion, peeled and cut in quarters
2 garlic cloves
1-2 carrots, washed and cut in half
about 1 1/2 inches of ginger, washed and cut into strips
1/2 cup of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (this is THE best and the only brand I use — it has the “mother” in it, for cryin’ out loud!)
20 whole peppercorns, or thereabout
Water to fill your crock pot after adding all these ingredients
Add all the ingredients to the crock pot and fill with water to the top. Turn on low and walk away for 24 hours. Yes, 24 hours. The apple cider helps break down the goodness in the bones. The veggies add flavor and vitamins. It is amazing! After your long wait is over, turn everything off, and strain your stock through a fine mesh strainer into glass mason jars to cool. You can let it cool in the pot for a while if you want until it is cool enough to handle. Let your mason jars cool on your counter for a couple hours, then throw them in the fridge to cool the rest of the way. Slowly cooling your stock helps the gelatin set in it. You can skim the fat off the top once your stock is cooled completely and the fat solidifies on the surface. Stock will stay fresh in your fridge for up to a week.
I store my stock in the freezer, laying the bags flat once all the air is out. I label the bags with the date and the amount in each, that way I know what to thaw for different recipes.
There you have it: healthy and delicious stock without the preservatives, flavor enhancers, and whatever else they throw in those cans. If you’ve skimmed the fat, there isn’t anything unhealthy in this stock AND you haven’t added any salt, but no one would be able to tell by tasting it. Hope you give it a try!