I have always felt that anything you can make homemade rather than store bought is healthier, usually less costly and tastes better. Chicken broth is one of these things. We make a lot of soup in our house, especially chicken broth based soups. I also use broth in some of my cooking, whether it is a pasta dish or a quick stir fry.
A while back I read an article by Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet talking about the benefits of making your own broth.
- Better use of Resources Throwing away the bones of chickens is truthfully a terrible waste. Those bones are full of minerals such as calcium that can be used to nourish your family.
- Saves Money This is a great point because buying broth in the store can get expensive- especially if you are going for the organic brands.
- More Nutritious Even the natural brands are very watered down and poor nutritionally speaking. They use coloring (natural ones) and “natural flavorings” often to make up for the poor quality of the stock. Less natural brands can be full of refined salts and MSG. Making your own broth gives you a mineral rich, nutritious base for all sorts of wonderful meals.
- It Tastes Better I agree that almost anything homemade tastes better and has more flavor.
- Improves Your Cooking A good homemade chicken broth gives you the foundation for making delicious soups and sauces and a myriad of other uses. You can cook your grains and legumes in it for extra nutrition and taste.
- Gives You Many Health Benefits Besides the rich nutrition you get from it, you also get other health benefits. An excellent (long) article on the topic was published by the Weston Price Foundation, called Why Broth is Beautiful. Here we learn that the gelatin rich broth helps the digestibility of our entire meal, supports liver function, as well as aiding bone and teeth health through the easily absorbed minerals.
Ok—if that doesn’t convince you I am not sure what will!
I recently decided it was time to stop making excuses and try out a slow cooker recipe for chicken broth. I found a recipe on Modern Alternative Kitchen by Jill for homemade chicken stock (I love this blog and Jill’s suggestions on how to slowly eliminate processed foods from your families diets—check it out).
She uses a whole chicken, cooks it in the slow cooker first then uses the bone, veggies, leftover broth and water to create her stock. Can’t get much easier or tastier than this!
It turned out perfectly. We used the meat for a whole week to put in salads, on sandwiches, in tacos and pasta. I really love being able to cook something on Sunday and then use it the whole week. This busy Mom is always looking for shortcuts; I’m not going to lie!
1. Buy a whole chicken (I prefer organic). Remove the giblets from inside the chicken (some people cook with these, but I threw them out).
2. Set the chicken in the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper (and any other spices you want). I knew I would be using this chicken for different types of dishes so I didn’t want to add spices.
3. Next turn your slow cooker on low for 7 hours.
4. After 7 hours, carefully pull the chicken out of the slow cooker and let cool enough to handle. There should be about 2 inches of chicken juices left in the crock pot which you should leave in there. When you remove the meat from the bones throw the skin and the bones back into the crock pot. The more bones (even small) the better. Add 5 cups of water, a few carrots, some celery, onions, whatever you want to boost the flavor.
Set the crock pot on low overnight for 9 hours.
5. Set a large bowl under a strainer and dump the broth through the strainer to remove the vegetables and bones. Put the broth in freezer safe containers and let cool on the counter. I then put my container in the fridge for one day then transferred into the freezer.
Here is Jill’s recommendation on mason jars which I didn’t use but plan to next time:
“I used mason jars and got five pints out of this batch! When filling the jars, be sure to leave 1-2 inches of ‘head room.’ Let them cool completely, skim and discard fat off top, put the lids on and pop them in the freezer. (This has worked for me at least 20 times in the last year. However, the last time I froze broth, not one but two of my mason jars cracked. I think I broke my own rule of letting them cool completely (possibly even let them spend a day in the fridge) before freezing. Don’t do what I did, let them cool first!!).”
Happy cooking & have a fabulous weekend.
What are your go-to slow cooker recipes?