Sunday, June 12, 2011

How To: Homemade Chicken Stock

A few months back I made my first batch of homemade chicken stock. I felt so proud and upon the first taste (made into a soup, of course) I could just feel myself getting healthier. And then one time when some bones went to waste, I was devastated. I love to use this stuff in all the soups I make, brown rice, lentils, etc. If you don't already know, homemade chicken broth is one of the best things you can put in your tummy. Here are a few benefits:

1. Promotes healing: successful in treating gastro-intestinal disorders, including hyper-acidity, colitis, Crohn’s disease, and infant diarrhea.
2. Digestive aid: Aids in the digestibility of grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and meats
3. Macro minerals: Contains highly absorbable forms of the calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and fluoride as well as trace minerals
4. Gelatin and Collagen: rich in both; promoting bone and joint healing in addition to supporting digestion
5. Protein: adds easily digestible protein to your diet
6. Amino acids: Glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and lysine are formed, which is important to detoxification and amino acid production in the body
7. Joint support: Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid are produced and present for additional muscle and joint support
8. Immune system: Promotes the assimilation of vitamins and minerals and thus supports the immune system
9. Delicious and nutritious: use as soup, cooking liquid, sauce or as a tea.
10. Synergy: Finally by initially healing the GI tract, broth creates an environment for all of the nutrients being taken in, whether by food or supplementation, to increase their bio-availability to your body.

-From Lance Roll, CEC, HLC1,  The Flavor Chef

"So why can't I just go pay $2.50 at the grocery store for it?" you ask. Well, unfortunately it's just not the same. Most store-bought stock-in-a-box is full of MSG, "natural flavors" and other undesirable ingredients, and void of the nutritious gelatin you get from making it yourself.

"Wait, there's jello in your chicken soup?" Not exactly. Gelatin (as you'll see in the last photo down below) is probably the best part when it comes to homemade stock, and comes from the bones.

"Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.

The gelatin in homemade bone broth helps the lining of the intestine. Many of us today have leaky gut, diverticulitis, Crohn’s and other intestinal problems. By helping to strengthen the gut walls, this also supports immunity. It also strengthens digestion which helps you absorb more nutrients.Gelatin also helps people digest milk and dairy products.”

-From Sally Fallon, "Broth is Beautiful" 

"Ok, so how is this done?" Well, take a little walk with me to my kitchen...

I usually just use a whole chicken which I cook in the crock pot. We eat whatever we want off of it, put the bones on a plate, and when we're done with dinner I pull the rest of the meat off the other bones and use it the same week for another meal or two. 

There's usually already a lot of natural juices that came out of the chicken during cooking, which I use in making the stock as well. So, I've got my bones all separated from the meat. 

 They're in separate bowls because after pulling all the meat and bones out, I poured what was left in the crock pot in another bowl. Ok, so next you want to place a steamer basket into the crock pot you used to cook the chicken in the first place. No need to clean the pot first, it's all the same stuff you just cooked and you don't want any of it to go to waste!

Then you just put all your bones back in there. You can do this without a basket but it's just easier with it, because then you don't have to separate everything from the liquid with a spoon when it's done. After the first time doing this the hard way, I went out and bought one. It's totally worth the $7 or whatever.

 Next you want to add some carrots, onion and celery (if you have them, otherwise don't worry about it... it'll still be chicken broth). And a bay leaf.

Now top it all off with the chicken juices and enough water to fill up the pot. If you're using a huge stock pot instead, just put as much as will cover the bones and veggies. Then add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

You'll probably notice that I put the vinegar in before the water (just this last time on accident) but it's probably best to do it after the water so that it mixes in better. Oh well. Ok, so put the lid on and let it sit for an hour.

Set your timer for 12-24 hours (I usually do 18 and it's done the next afternoon) and turn your crock pot to low.

When it's all done, just pull the steamer basket out and do whatever you want with the bones and veggies. Feed them to your dog, add them to your compost (actually I'm not sure if you should do that), throw them away... I usually go with that last one. 

If you want to really get a kick out of this, take one of the bones between your fingers and crush it. See? All the good stuff that was in there before is now in your stock. So much yummier than a calcium pill.

Alright so now you have this pot full of chicken stock. You can use it right away to make soup, or you can store it in jars. 

See how greasy it looks? That's the kind of fat that's good for you. And probably what turns into gelatin later. I'm not an expert, can you tell? I just know grandma knew what she was talking about when she told you to down some chicken soup when you were sick.

I end up with 8 cups on average, ranging anywhere between 6 and 10. You'll probably want to wait a little while to let it cool off so you don't burn yourself pouring it all in and handling the hot jars.
Don't put them in the freezer right away, even if you know you won't be using it this week. Let it cool in the fridge first so the jars don't burst. I used a quart the next day for dinner then put the rest in the freezer. It thaws pretty easy in a sink full of hot water.

Alright so the next day, you can look at your jars and see how the gelatin has formed and risen to the top: YAY!

So when you go to use this stuff, don't throw out the gelatin! It's like pure medicine right there in your dinner.

Ok, so try it out and let me know what you think!