Making Broths at Home
I was reading through the Church resources on home production at lds.org and came across this rather stunning quote: “I remember when the sisters used to say, ‘Well, but we could buy it at the store a lot cheaper than we can put it up.’ But that isn’t quite the answer, is it? … Because there will come a time when there isn’t any store.” (Spencer W. Kimball, April 1974 Welfare Session) This goes right along with the goal of this segment of the newsletter, which is to help decrease our dependence on “the store”.
As we head into winter, many of us will be making more soups and will most likely rely on store-bought bouillon or broth as the base. But homemade broths are easy and make great use of things we might otherwise throw away. In addition, we will avoid the preservatives and artificial flavor enhancers of the commercial stuff, while adding the healthful benefits of natural calcium and gelatin. Depending on your time and available cooking tools, these broths can be pressure cooked for 30 minutes, cooked overnight in a slow cooker, or left to simmer on the back of your stove while you tend to kids or household chores.
The basic recipe is as follows:
- 3-4 lbs of chicken, beef, pork, fish or other meat bones, tendons, feet, heads, giblets, etc
- 4 quarts water
- 1-3 onions (more for beef and strong-flavored broths, less for chicken and fish) *
- 2-3 coarsely chopped carrots *
- 1-3 stalks celery *
- 2+ cloves of garlic (to taste, I saw as many as 10 cloves!)
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Other herbs and spices as desired such as: 1 tsp whole peppercorns, several sprigs of thyme, 1” ginger root (for fish stock), 1 Tablespoon dried basil, 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoons-1/2 cup of vinegar (this will pull more calcium out of the bones as they cook)
This stock cooks for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker, 6+ hours simmering on the stovetop, or 10 hours in a slow cooker. When it’s done cooking, let it cool slightly and remove large pieces with a slotted spoon and then pour the remainder through a strainer or doubled cheese cloth inside a colander. Place stock in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and solidifies. Scoop off and discard. Add salt to taste. What you have now is full strength stock. Use it (it will be fine in the fridge for 3-4 days), freeze it, can it (in a pressure canner only!) as it is, or reduce it for easier storage. You can reduce by half for double strength, or if you reduce it to a quarter its original volume (about 4 cups), you can freeze it in standard ice cube trays and two cubes plus 3/4 cups water will make one cup of full-strength broth! Just make sure to label it well. Mystery broth at mystery strength has a tendency to sit around unused… Also, if you wish to take it even a step further, there is a tutorial here on how to turn your broth into shelf-stable bouillon cubes.
Here are a few recipes for highly rated chicken stocks at allrecipes.com:
* For any of the added vegetables, you may use clean, non-rotten, ends, trimmings and peels to equal the quantities listed. This is a great way to use the parts of vegetables that are less cosmetically appealing, but still nutritious.