Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Make Bone Broth and My Favorite Glass Container for Freezing Broth

Bone broth is a wonderful superfood that was a critical part of many traditional diets.  I make sure we always have bone broth in the freezer, and use it liberally in cooking.  Besides using broth for soups, I also incorporate it into many recipes such as curry meatballs and veggies, braised cabbage and sausages, white beans, rice, and veggies such as beets and green beans.

When I first started making homemade broth over 6 years ago, I followed the recipe in Nourishing Traditions which uses uncooked chicken. But over time, I figured out a much more cost effective and easy method that uses a roasted chicken carcass. Then last year, I started to incorporate some ideas from Nourished Kitchen's post on perpetual broth into my usual method.  So now, I am able to make LOTS of bone broth with just one chicken carcass. 

How to Make Chicken Broth

  1. Start by roasting a chicken and then picking the carcass clean. We love to eat roasted chicken.  After everyone has eaten their fill, I bring the chicken carcass to the table and pick the meat off the bones.  The meat gets stored in a glass container in the fridge to be used for another meal such as pizza or soup. 
  2. Put the chicken carcass into the slow cooker. All of the bones, juices, leftover skin, and chewy bits go straight into the slow cooker. If I have any on-hand, I also add some chicken feet to the stockpot.
  3. Add some fresh veggies and filtered water. For one chicken carcass, I usually throw in one quartered white onion and two carrots (peeled and cut into 2 or 3 chunks).  Add enough filtered water to cover it all. 
  4. Turn the pot on LOW and cook for 15-24 hours. 
  5. After the broth has cooked at least 15 hours, ladle and strain about half the liquid from the pot.  I especially try to make sure to get most of the fat out of the pot along with the liquid, as I don't think it is a good idea to let the fat keep cooking for an extended period of time. I pour the broth into glass jars for freezing (I talk more about that below).  Anytime after the 1st night of cooking, feel free to dip into the pot to get stock for any cooking needs, or even enjoy a nice warm cup of salted broth first thing in the morning. OPTIONAL: At this point, you could pull out the veggies and pick some more meat/skin off the carcass. There is quite a large amount of meat, skin, and connective tissue that was too tough to eat before making broth, but these parts are wonderfully tender after being simmered in the broth. Add a splash of broth and some salt and pepper to make a large bowl of soup (enough for 2-3 people). This soup can either be eaten right away, or stored in the fridge as an easy meal for later. 
  6. Add more filtered water to the pot and cook the bones some more. And you can throw in some more fresh carrots and onions if you removed them during the previous step. Continue to cook on Low. 
  7. Each day, ladle off some more broth and add fresh water. In this way, you can make lots and lots of broth with just one chicken carcass.  I usually continue this process for about 4-6 days to really stock up the freezer.  And, despite what you may think, the broth does not get watered down with this method.  The broth actually gets more and more rich as the days go by, peaking around day 4 or 5.  This is because the bones continue to break down into the broth over time.  I find that the broth made after the 2nd day has a very concentrated, rich flavor and a deeper brown color, so that I need to use only half as much in recipes (making up the balance with filtered water). 
  8. Strain and freeze the broth (or store in the fridge if it will be used in the next few days). I do not skim the fat off the stock, as it makes the broth more nourishing and flavorful.

Tips for Freezing  (and Thawing) Broth

I always freeze my broth in glass containers.  Plastic can leach into foods, especially with changes in temperature, so I don't use plastic for freezing broth. I've definitely had my share of glass jars that have cracked during freezing, but over time I have figured out the tricks to successfully freezing (and thawing) broth in glass jars.
  • Leave plenty of head space.  As the broth freezes, it will expand, so it is important to leave plenty of space above the broth for expansion during freezing. A general rule is to make sure you leave more than 1-inch of space above the liquid in the jars.  You can see in the picture above that I have left lots of space for expansion during freezing.    
  • Let the broth cool to room temperature on the counter without the lids on.  Once the jars are cool enough to touch comfortably, put the lids on and transfer them to the freezer. 
  • Not all jars are created equally.  For freezing large quantities of broth (such as pints or quarts), I find that mason jars work best.  Other jars, such as the ones you buy containing coconut oil, are more likely to crack in the freezer.
  • My favorite jars for freezing broth: tomato paste jars! These jars are great for many reasons: 
    • Since I use plenty of tomato paste to make homemade ketchup, I always have plenty of these little jars around.
    • These small jars don't seem to break as easily as bigger jars.  I've frozen hundreds of these little jars of broth, and only ever had one of them break (because it was overfilled).
    • Small jars are easy to fit into little leftover spaces in the freezer.
    • The amount of broth in small jars is perfect for when I just need a little bit of broth (such as when making caramelized green beans).  And of course, multiple small jars can be used when larger amounts of broth are needed.
    • Small jars thaw very quickly, so even if I didn't plan ahead, I can still use homemade broth in my recipes.
  • To thaw broth in glass jars:
    • If you have time, thaw jars of broth in the fridge overnight.  
    • In a pinch, it also works to thaw jars of broth in a big bowl of water.  The key to thawing jars in water is to make sure you do NOT use hot water initially.  Placing a frozen jar into hot water puts a big thermal shock on the glass, which can cause it to crack.  
      • Start by placing the frozen jar into cool water.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes.
      • Replace the cold water in the bowl with warm water and let it sit a few minutes. 
      • Then you can put hot water into the bowl to speed things up.  
      • There is no need to wait for the broth to completely thaw.  Just wait until there is enough thawed that the remaining chunk of frozen broth can come out into whatever you are cooking.
Do you have any tips for making and storing broth? 

This post is part of Pennywise Platter!

45 comments:

  1. I frooze my broth in glass mason jar but the glass often brook or crack in the freezer!

    What is your trick

    Thanks
    Martine

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    1. Was your jar full? It needs to be a bit below where it starts to curve.

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    2. Tine, look towards the bottom of this article where there is a list of tips for freezing in glass jars.

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  2. Thank you so much for this post! When I make broth in the crockpot with my chicken carcass (cooking 18-20 hrs and using cold water and ACV) I am currently only getting 8-12 cups of broth from each chicken and haven't even been able to get it to gel then. When first roasting the chicken I put a little water with it to make gravy and that always gels so I figured I am just trying to get too much broth from one chicken when putting in the crockpot afterwards. But we use way more broth than we eat chicken (the cheapest free range chickens we can find are $20-$25 each so we try to ration it out to several meals :) so I am excited to try this! I had tried before to reuse the bones for a 2nd batch in the crockpot and it was barely more than cloudy water with almost no taste at all so I just used it to cook beans, but maybe using some of the broth from the first batch makes all the difference. Do all of your batches of broth made from the same carcass gel?

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    1. I'm not sure if they all gel, as I don't usually refrigerate them (they go straight into the freezer, and then are thawed in a bowl of water). But, regardless, I think bone broth is wonderfully nutritious even if it does not gel.

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  3. I'm still not comfortable using a crock pot due to possible leaching. Check out http://www.terminalverbosity.com/2009/11/09/the-skinny-on-lead-in-crockpots-it-may-surprise-you/.
    Although I have held off from continuous broths due to the worry of lead leaching, that may not be the problem. One blog responder found a metallic taste from her crockpot. She had the liquid tested for possible leaching. Turns out that the zine levels were barely below acceptable levels. If one continually used a crockpot for broth, I would worry about my zinc levels throwing off my copper levels and the myriad health problems associated with that.

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    1. I used to use a pot for making broth, but over time transitioned to using a slow cooker instead. I have looked into the lead issue, and supposedly Hamilton Beach slow cookers have no lead (whereas Crock-Pots may have trace amounts). This is why, when my Crock-Pot broke a couple years ago, I replaced it with a Hamilton Beach slow cooker instead.

      One other thing to note is that I do NOT use vinegar in my broth (I used to when I cooked it for less time, as recommended in Nourishing Traditions). So without vinegar, the potential for leaching should be less. Anyhow, these are my reasons for using a slow cooker, but everyone has to decide for themselves what they are comfortable doing.

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    2. I always thought a crockpot and a slow cooker are the same things.

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    3. Yes, a CrockPot is one brand of a slow cooker. I was saying I originally used a pot, as in a large pot on the stove, back when I first started making broth years ago. As for slow cookers, there are two main brands which are Hamilton Beach and Crockpot. Some people say there is a potential for lead in both types. From the research I have done, it seemed like there was less chance of any lead being in the Hamilton Beach type, although I was never fully convinced that lead was really an issue with either type.

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  4. I hope this does not sound like a silly question, but why do you cook it for 4-6 days? Is it because you may have activities going on that would prevent you from dealing with it so you end the cooking at 4 days, or is there something about the chicken bones that lets you know it is finished giving nourishing broth? I also appreciate the suggestion for using those small jars. I have so many collecting in my kitchen that my husband is getting a little upset with me. I just can't bear to throw away a good glass jar! This is a great way to use them effectively with out him getting upset. I usually use wide mouth pint canning jars because they have straight sides, but I run out of them.

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    Replies
    1. The reason I cook for 4-6 days is so I can make lots of broth from one chicken. So I take out half of the broth each day to freeze and add more water. Also, the broth gets richer and more tasty around day 3-5.

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    2. Thanks for your reply. I guess what I should have asked is why you don't always cook it for 6 days as that would give you even more broth than cooking for 4 days. Is there something in the look or smell of the broth that tells you it has cooked enough?

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    3. Oh, right. The reason I don't always go for a full 6 days is that sometimes I get tired of doing the broth every day, or sometimes I run out of jars to use, or more frequently, I want to use the slow cooker for something else. I can't tell anything that makes it seem like the bones shouldn't be used anymore. But after a week or so, the broth will start getting rather watered down so I don't go past about 6 days.

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  5. I'm fairly new to making bone broth as I just started in 2012. I found a great way to make a whole chicken in the crock pot (I just don't have much time to roast one these days) and then cook the carcass in the crock pot to get the broth. I've done perpetual before but not with your tricks, so I'm looking forward to trying that!

    I found a cool trick to make portable broth by reducing down a gallon of broth to about a cup, and then adding 2 tbs. of grassfed beef gelatin to it. Let it cool in the fridge in a 4"x4" container and then cut it into 16 pieces and store that way. I had so many mason jars of broth that it was taking up so much precious freezer space that this seems to be a cool fix. Anyway, I thought you might like to know too. I heard it from The Nourishing Gourmet.

    Thanks for these tips, I'll start using them this weekend!
    Jenny

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    1. Hi! I love this post and haven't done a continual broth before- and our expenses are getting crazy so this is the perfect thing to try. Only I don't have freezer space! So, could I take out half the broth each day from the crock pot, transfer to the stove and just boil and boil and boil until it's reduced to about a cup? (And add fresh water to the crock pot and keep going with the other broth?) Where do you find grassfed beef gelatin? Never used gelatin before. So if I use one of the squares, how much water should I add? When using in recipes, say I needed 1 qt of broth, would I then just add 4 little squares and 1 qt water? Thanks!

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    2. And do you freeze the squares or keep them in the fridge? Thanks!

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    3. I haven't ever added gelatin to my broth, but as for your other questions: I'm sure you could boil it down to take up less freezer space. And I do freeze it rather than refrigerating it.

      You'll have to experiment some to see how much water you need to add based on how concentrated your stock gets on the stove. I can usually tell by the color: when my broth is very concentrated it will be very dark brown, so I will add twice as much water as stock. When it is medium brown, I add an equal amount of water as stock. When I want my stock to get more concentrated, I just don't add as much water to the crockpot.

      Great Lakes brand gelatin is grassfed, and can be bought on Amazon...

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  6. I'm currently trying to implement the GAPS diet with myself and my son who has GI problems, so I was really excited to see this practical way of making lots of broth. I was wondering if you use the internal organs in this perpetual broth. I've had a pot going for over 24 hours now and the first batch tasted good with the organ meat cooked in it, but I'm concerned it may make the flavor taste off as the days go by. Also, when you remove most of the fat with the first batch taken from the pot, do you reserve some of it to add to later batches, or do you find that the skin left to slow cook continues to release enough fat into subsequent batches of broth? Thanks for sharing your wonderful research and experience here! -- Tracy

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    1. Hi Tracy,
      I have not made this with organ meats included, as I also worried about a strong flavor developing over time. I do not add more fat, as the skin does keep breaking down. By the last couple days, though, there is not much fat left. I just make sure to add some fat whenever I use the broth for cooking later though.

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  7. I noticed you do not add apple cider vinegar which seems to be what most nourishing bloggers are doing. Is this an oversight?
    Thanks,
    Patty

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    1. Hi Patty,
      I don't use any vinegar in my perpetual broth. I did use it back when I only made stock for one day, but with the new longer method, the vinegar isn't needed since the long cook time gives plenty of time for the bones to give off their nutrients.

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  8. i never thought to do this but i'm in day 2 and you are right! today's batch was darker and richer. thanks for this amazing suggestion. such a great way of having a constant stream of broth in the house.

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  9. Do you do the same things, like keeping it going, with beef bone broth?

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    1. Honestly, I don't often make beef broth (instead I usually thrown a beef bone in any time I am making an all-day beef roast or soup). But I don't see why the same method wouldn't work with beef broth. I would think, though, that you would probably want to try to remove more fat on subsequent days and you'd also probably need to make sure to dilute the broth from days 2-5 quite a bit, since beef broth even cooked for one day can have a rather strong flavor.

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  10. Hi Sarah, I've realized I kind of prefer cooking the whole chicken GAPS-style (boiling/simmering the whole chicken in a large pot of water, resulting in meat stock) rather than roasting. I like the taste of roasted chicken, but it seems that I get more meat from the chicken when it's boiled because it's so well-cooked it's falling off the bone and I can easily pull the rest off. But when roasted, there are some tougher parts on the leg/thigh area that are harder to remove. So once I've removed the meat and strained the stock after cooking the chicken on the stovetop, is it okay to use the carcass to make bone broth in this manner that you've described, rather than starting with the roasted carcass? Or is there some reason why the nutritional attributes would be different in a chicken cooked that way as opposed to roasted?

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    1. Yes, you can still use that carcass. You could even cook the whole chicken in the slow cooker, then pull off the meat (yes, you get so much more off cooking it that way) then throw the bones back in the pot. That is how I did it when we first started GAPS, and it works fine plus saves on dirty dishes.

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    2. Interesting point about using the slow cooker, and I'm totally in favor of saving on dirty dishes! But the thing I've never figured out about doing chicken in the slow cooker, or even starting the batch of bone broth in the slow cooker, is what to do about the scum/foam stuff that comes to the surface. Well, it usually comes to the surface when bringing to the boil in a pot on the stove, but what do you do in a slow cooker? One time I tried it, and none of the yucky stuff came to the surface, leading me to believe it was still in there somewhere. Icky?? Hmm... What is that foam and scum anyway? Just wondering what you think about that. :)

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    3. You are right, the foam does not rise to the surface with a slow cooker. My understanding is that it is saponins of some sort kinda like in soap). I do skim the foam off when I make soup or broth on the stove, but just decided not to worry about it in the slow cooker...

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  11. So it's sort of a soap? Now that's strange! Ha! Soap soup. Or soup soap. :) Either way, it's kinda strange! Today I read somewhere else that the carcass should roasted to break down the marrow so it will release into the broth. Have you ever heard that? As we discussed above, I like the idea of just boiling (simmering) the chicken rather than roasting sometimes, but of course I want the nutrients out of the carcass and want to do it right. Sometimes there is coflicting information, and right when I think I've figured out what to do, I realize I'm confused again! Also, I generally just toss the carcass and water into the pot, without adding onions and carrots, etc, just to save time and energy. I assume those other things are for flavor and do add some nutrients, but is it safe to assume the chicken is releasing plenty of nutrients even without those additional ingredients?

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    1. It's definitely kinda strange :)

      I've also read before that the carcass should be roasted to get the most out of it. I'm sure that helps with broth that is cooking for a short time. I really don't think it is required, though, for this long-cooking method. The bones (even the big chicken bones) can be easily crumble in your fingers after cooking for several days.

      And you can totally make broth without the veggies; I just think it makes the taste better.

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  12. Hi Sarah, this sounds interesting. I currently have a 3 day old roast chicken carcass in the fridge - is it too old now to use?

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    1. I've never used one that old, but it seems like it should be fine to use...

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  13. Thank you for this. I've been doing this the last couple of weeks and now I have a bunch of broth in my freezer. It came in really handy this week as we've been too sick to get to the grocery store but wanted soup to help with our colds.

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  14. Hi! I just added your blog to my RSS feed reader and am glad I found it. Question: I roasted a chicken in the crock pot today. The pot now has a fair amount (2-3 inches) of rich liquid in it. Should i include that when I start my bones for broth? I can't remember what I did the one other time I made broth. Thanks!

    - Lucy

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    1. Hi Lucy,
      Yes, you can include that liquid in the broth pot, or use it for something else if you like (Mmm, gravy). Either way is fine.

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  15. Thanks so much for answering my question about the extra liquid -- I will be making broth this wknd. :)
    - Lucy

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  16. I've been doing this for a few days and I'm so excited about it! It's so wonderful to have REAL chicken stock as opposed to using boullion (I'm a beginner, here...). I had no idea about the bones softening and being able to eat them, or how long you can use the bones! So cool. Thanks.

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  17. Hi Sarah!
    Love, love, LOVE this post! I've been reading about, and entertaining the idea of GAPS for about a year now, but have always been intimidated by the broth-making, that's obviously such a huge part of GAPS! I just ladled out my first 2 jars of broth from the crock pot and am so impressed! Thank you!
    Also, do you happen to have a list of recipes that include broth? I see you mentioned the caramelized green beans and will definitely be trying those!
    Thanks!

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    1. Great! I'm glad to be of help! Here are a few links to recipes that include broth. You can find more if you search for "broth" in the search box on the right side bar (about mid-way down the page).

      http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2012/12/asian-beef-soup-with-mushrooms-and-bok.html

      http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2012/10/braised-cabbage-and-sausages.html

      http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2011/01/chicken-and-vegetable-soup-with-creme.html

      http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2012/02/curry-meatballs-and-veggies-grain-free.html

      http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2012/04/meatball-and-mushroom-soup-gaps-primal.html

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  18. SOS! I roasted a turkey and then picked most of the meat off the carcass. Then I put it in the slow cooker with the drippings, fat, etc and water (my GAPS babe can't do veggies yet so I omitted them). I put it on low. During the day I had to keep turning it to "keep warm" because it was boiling on just low and sputtering/rattling the lid. During the past two days I keep switching it from low to keep warm. The first night I took out half the broth and froze it and added more water. I forgot to remove the fat. My problem is that it STINKS! I can't even describe what it smells like- but definitely not the delicious smell I usually get when I simmer turkey broth on the stove. The top is all yellow and looks cheesy? Do you think this is because the fat got funky? Or the boiling that it did on low heat was too hot? (Usually on the stove I leave mine at just a few small bubbles coming up- very low simmer). I don't think I had any organs in there to stink it up... not sure what to do. It tastes kind of strange, so I'm going to ditch it, but I'm so bummed and wonder if you can help me figure out what I did wrong. I love the idea of doing a continual broth and hope this can be a good way to help me save some money! Thanks so much!

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure what caused this problem. The only time I've had broth become stinky was when using conventionally-raised chicken (like the type you can buy at any grocery store). That actually stunk up the house, and I've never used it again for making broth.

      Were you using conventionally-raised turkey as opposed to organic or free range?

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    2. Hi! I bought one at the grocery store, but it was labeled free range, antibiotic-hormone-additive-free. Hmm.

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  19. Please help....... I made a broth on Sunday, refrigerated and skimmed fat on Monday. I have been having a cup a day and I have a lot left over. Do you think I could freeze it 5 days later? Many thanks :-) Claire

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    1. Personally, I wouldn't freeze broth that was 5 days old, especially since often the meals I make with my thawed broth end up being frozen or consumed over several days. If I had a bunch of 5-day old broth, I'd make some soup and eat it tonight and tomorrow.

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