Inspired by a friend who has a cold, I thought I’d do a series of winter health tips. My top favorite way to stay healthy in winter is to always have homemade bone broth around.
If you can boil water, and if you can roast a chicken – or even if you can buy an organic roasted chicken – you can make broth, a protein-rich and mineral-rich healing liquid that can be drunk on its own as a tonic for upset tummies, as a base for soups, or as an addition to a stir-fry or any kind of cooking of veggies.
If you make your own baby food, use broth instead of water to add fat, which will help your child absorb any vitamins & minerals in the veggies (and the stock adds nutrients and protein of its own).
If you cook with grains, use broth instead of water.
There is a ton of info out there about how and why to make your own broth.
Here is my quick approach:
It’s best to have two chicken carcasses or one carcass and a bunch of wing bones (or other bones if you can get them from your farmer or butcher). If you have only one carcass, you might cut the recipe in half to avoid a weak broth. It’s fine to store one carcass in the freezer until you have a second ready.
Most people say once you are done with bones, toss them. I say if you make a quick batch of broth because you need to use it just 6-8 hours after you started it, then go ahead and soak the bones again for a second round. Maybe add in extra onion and celery for additional flavor. I advise against adding lots of extra carrot while making broth. Save the carrots for making soup with the already-done broth and seasonings.
- 4 quarts (filtered) water
- 2 Tablespoons raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (or another kind of vinegar if necessary, the milder the better. Try rice vinegar before grain vinegar)
- Chicken* bones (two carcasses if available)
* Use good quality chickens that have been bred on pasture. Organic or “pastured” from a farmer you trust is best. Be sure at a minimum that they are hormone & antibiotic-free. Organic chickens at the store might be pricey, but you can get them directly from farmers at markets or through co-ops for $3.00/lb. Also look for chicken feet and backs for lots of gelatin at a low price.
Step 1: Combine
Combine the above in a stock pot.
Step 2: Let sit
Let sit for 30-60 minutes at room temperature.
During this time, the vinegar is pulling out the calcium and other minerals from the bones. It might help if you’ve cut up or snapped some of the bones.
Step 3: Chop veggies
While the water/vinegar/bones sit, cut up one onion, three celery stalks and two carrots. Big pieces are fine.
Note: celery and carrots are both on the “dirty dozen” list, meaning they are among one of the foods it’s most important to eat organic.
Step 4: Add veggies + boil
Add the veggies to the pot and put on heat to a boil.
Step 5: Skim
When the pot starts to boil, try to skim off anything that looks like scum – tiny particles and bubbles that are impurities. If you don’t do this, life will go on, but you’ll notice that your final product will look not so pure.
Step 6: Lower temp
After skimming, lower the temp of the pot to a low simmer. The top of the stock-in-progress should be relatively still while there is rolling going on under the surface. Cover for the remainder of the cooking.
Step 7: Wait
Let this roll (covered) as long as possible – no fewer than 6 hours. The closer you can get to 24 hours, the better. The flavor will be rich, and it will be a wonderful healing food full of gelatin. You can turn it off if you go to work or to bed and leave it on the stove to bring back to a boil hours later. Skim the scum each time you bring it back up to a boil, and then turn the heat back down each time.
Step 8: Add parsley at the end
When you’re ready to call it quits, put a bunch of parsley in for last 10 minutes for an extra wallop of minerals (and flavor).
Step 9: Strain
Now you’re ready to strain the stock into a big bowl (using a mesh strainer and going slowly so your bones and veggies don’t fall in).
Any remaining meat and the veggies have all been stripped of their nutritional value by now. Toss them out or feed the meat to the cat.
If you did a short run of this stock, you might save the bones for a second use.
Step 10: Cool and store
Let the stock cool some before you ladle it into jars for storage. Whether you cool it in a bowl or in smaller containers, it’s nice to let the stock completely cool in the fridge before you use it so you can take off the top layer of fat if you wish and so that you can see how solidly the stock “set up” – how gelled it got.
Don’t put warm stock in the fridge; it will just warm up your fridge! Let it sit out and get to room temperature first.
If you don’t plan to use the stock right away, you can store in Mason jars (be sure to leave at least an inch at the top so they don’t burst in the freezer) or freeze in cube trays for small uses here and there. Stock keeps in the fridge for a few days; use your nose, but I’d feel very comfortable with 3-4 days, and some folks would go up to a week. Bringing to a boil again is a good idea.
Enjoy this wonderful, delicious healing food that is far superior to anything you could get in a box or can!
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