Thursday, February 2, 2012

Are you new to broth?

Looooove the broth. I have an online friend who entered making broth tentatively and with much concern about "doing it right". My Facebook friends being their helpful selves guided her gently through the process...

First, take whatever kind of animal boned carcass you have available. That includes the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. But really--leftover bones from lamb chops or beef roasts... whatever you can get your hands on will do.

Pick the meat off the bones. I happen to have a batch of chicken broth on the stove as I type that was not picked clean. I'm regretting that. That meat would've made a nice soup. I'm currently contemplating how long it will take me to go through and pick out the meat. :/ Obviously there are going to be meat remnants. That's totally fine.

Break whatever bones you can. This exposes the marrow of the bone--which has some great health benefits.

Put all these bones in a large stock pot and cover them with water that has a splash of vinegar in it (if you're not a "splash" kind of person, use 2 Tbl. Yes--no matter how big or small the pot is. It's not an exact science ;) ). Let them soak in the vinegar for about 30 minutes. This helps extract some of the minerals from the bones into the water.

Now you're ready to cook. Bring the whole thing to a boil and then, once at a boil, add "other stuff". The list of things that comprise "other stuff" is completely unscientific. If you needed the 2 Tbl. measure during the vinegar step, you're not going to love this. I'll help: start off with 2-3 carrots, a small to medium sized onion, a few stalks of celery and three shakes of salt. But really, other stuff in my house is "Anything within arms reach" which today meant: carrot peels, chopped off bottoms of a bunch of spinach, some celery hearts, at least a large onion with the peel still on (but cut into quarters), definitely several cloves of fresh garlic (smashed) and a few good shakes of salt (worthy of note that my stock pot holds three chicken carcasses and is at least the size of my elbow-to-fingertips in diameter and just as tall). I don't think I threw anything else in there.

After it hits the boil, I let mine boil for a good 10 minutes before turning the heat down to medium-low. I want it bubbling but not boiling for the rest of the time.

Mine has been at low-medium heat for what is now about 10 hours. You can do this as little as 3-4 hours. Mine will go through the night and I'll strain it and jar it in my pressure canner tomorrow. Of course, I may just jar it up and put it in the fridge. It's still winter and we make soup every night--so it could certainly get used up in a matter of a week.

That's really the basics of it. You can find elsewhere online how to do this in a crock pot and my newbie broth-cooking Facebook friend did that. I just cook way too much of it to fit in my crock pot. :)

There are PLENTY of additional ways to tweak your broth. Many people will leave the lid partially open to reduce their broth down to a beautiful, condensed, tasty liquid. Many people will add the innards of poultry to their poultry broth (I did this with my turkey innards at Thanksgiving). Some people roast the bones before making broth with them. Some will use a saw to be sure to expose the marrow of the bones. Or maybe add chicken legs and leave the cartilage in there to get that serious gelatinous setup once it's cooled.

Most people skim the top and believe that they're taking the impurities out. In reality, it just gives you clearer broth. I thought something was wrong with my broth because there was no foam to skim. Turned out that bones from meat that was pasture raised and relatively "pure" won't foam--so maybe there's something to that idea of skimming the foam.

But try it out! Really--it's THAT easy. And it's the best thing in the world to nourish your body--even when you drink it without making a soup. Just like tea. The miracle of a good broth drunk regularly is amazing. Get your kids started on it, too!

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