This is the perfect trifecta of qualities for anyone trying to save money and feed her (his) family healthy food.
Homemade chicken broth is one of the most useful kitchen staples to have on hand. It is also one of the healthiest.
And it’s not just for making soup. Broth is used in casseroles, sauces, pastas like risotto, and a variety of side dishes as well.
I’ve mentioned before how roasting a whole chicken can be a simple way to save money and have meat on hand for a variety of dishes. The next step is to turn the leftover bones into delicious bone broth! Turn what you might otherwise throw away into a bounty of useful broth for the price of pocket change.
At $1-2 per can or $3-4 per quart of chicken broth from the store, making broth at home can save a grocery budget hundreds of dollars a year. That’s a deal hard to turn down. And you don’t even have to cut out any coupons.
And just as compelling (if not more) than saving money on your grocery budget, bone broth is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It is a great source for vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Buying a chicken that was never given antibiotics or hormones also ensures that you are giving your family a very healthy option.
Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
As important as frugality and health are, I would be remiss if I didn’t also say that making homemade broth is worth it just for the taste and flavor as well. Simmering your own broth results in rich flavorful broth that will lead to delicious dishes.
How to Make Easy Homemade Chicken Broth
1. In a crockpot, combine 1-2 chicken carcasses (such a gross word but it’s gotta be done), carrots, onion quarters, halved garlic cloves, celery, and a halved tomato. Sprinkle a teaspoon of dried thyme and a tablespoon of whole peppercorns. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
2. Fill the crockpot with water.
3. Simmer on low for at least 4 hours, but preferably 6-8 hours.
4. Use a ladle and a strainer to remove the hot broth from the crockpot.
A strainer set over a bowl is an easy way to strain the hot broth. Use a bowl with a spout if you have one to make it easier to pour the broth into jars. Return the contents of the strainer to the crockpot if you are doing a second batch.
Jars are half-filled with broth from the first batch. Broth from the second batch will be used to finish filling the jars.
5. At this point, you can refill the crockpot with water and simmer again to make a second batch of chicken broth. Because the second batch will be weaker than the first, I like to fill jars with half of each batch, combining the two and achieving a happy medium.
finished broth, ready to cool and then be transferred to the freezer
A Few Final Notes:
- Leave about an inch of room at the top of the jars when filling if you plan on freezing the jars. If you don’t, the broth will push off the top or possibly break the jars as it expands when it freezes.
- To thaw frozen jars of broth: Transfer to the counter or refrigerator to thaw for several hours. Or, if you are like me and lack the necessary foresight, thaw it in the microwave– fifteen minutes timed defrost. DO NOT immediately try to heat the jars in the microwave or with hot water because the jars will likely crack.
- One helpful practice is to freeze some chicken broth in ice cube trays. One cube is about a tablespoon and can be easily pulled out when you need a small amount for a sauce or something.
- Don’t leave out the apple cider vinegar. It is an important ingredient because it helps to draw out the wonderful nutrients from the chicken bones.
- My preference is to freeze leftover chicken carcasses (there’s that word again…) until I have 4 ready to be used for broth. Then I use two crockpots to make a BIG batch of broth. This means only having to make broth periodically which is nice.
- The smell of broth simmering is not pleasant to a pregnant nose. Act accordingly if you have one.
- Some people like to save scraps from onions, carrots, celery, etc to use later for broth. This is a good idea, but one that I do not personally implement.
- 1-2 Chicken carcasses
- 2 carrots, quartered
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 3 inch chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 tomato, halved
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- In a crockpot, combine 1-2 chicken carcasses (such a gross word but it's gotta be done), carrots, onion, garlic cloves, celery, and tomato. Sprinkle dried thyme and whole peppercorns. Add apple cider vinegar.
- Fill the crockpot with water.
- Simmer on low for at least 4 hours, but preferably 6-8 hours.
- Use a ladle and a strainer to remove the hot broth from the crockpot. (A strainer set over a bowl is an easy way to strain the hot broth. Use a bowl with a spout if you have one to make it easier to pour the broth into jars. Return the contents of the strainer to the crockpot if you are doing a second batch).
- At this point, you can refill the crockpot with water and simmer again to make a second batch of chicken broth. Because the second batch will be weaker than the first, I like to fill jars with half of each batch, combining the two and achieving a happy medium.