Just had chicken/turkey/any meat with bones for dinner? Don’t wash the pot yet! You now have the ingredients for fabulous BONE BROTH!!!
I’m using an Instant Pot but you can use any crock pot or just a pot with a lid! I used a big stainless steel pot for years. (By the way, if you have an IP, here’s how to make a delicious dinner in 60 minutes from a frozen broiler!!!)
After dinner, if there’s any chicken left, pick that off and save the meat for another meal or soup. Put the bones, skin, any leftover veggies and anything else you have (older unattractive but still edible veggies tucked away in the fridge, extra chicken feet, etc.) into the pot.
Fill the pot with water — my IP holds a gallon and that is a good amount of water for one* bird — and add a Tbsp. of vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes so the vinegar can do its magic, leeching the minerals out of the bones.
*Got two birds or a mix of bones = a bigger pile than one bird? Use two gallons if your pot will hold it!
NOTE: I do not add “still great” veggies or spices, not even salt, to my broth making and I only use distilled water.
- VEGGIES FOR BROTH All “still good” veggies will go in the actual soup, not in the broth. For broth-making, I add only older veggies to get out any flavor and minerals that might still remain. (If the older veggies are REALLY old so that the flavor is off, I toss.)
- SALTY SOUP And I don’t add salt yet because, as you cook the broth, any salt will “magnify” and by the time you’ve got soup, the broth can be pretty salty. So I only salt the bowl of food I’m going to eat.
- OTHER SPICES I don’t add other spices to the broth-making so the broth is “plain”… that way I can use it to for a wide variety of cooking projects. I can make a flavored soup — like curry — if I’ve a mind to. Or use the broth to cook rice or quinoa or pasta without adding any other flavors. Or have a cup of plain bone broth — delicious!!!
- DISTILLED WATER With distilled water, you are not adding any other flavors or chemicals to your cooking. If you use tap/fluoridated water and boil it, the fluoride stays and you run the risk of magnifying the fluoride. We use well water so fluoride-free, thank goodness! But it is very hard, so we still use distilled for cooking and drinking.
- We make our own distilled with this distiller (3 years old, knock on wood) and add these minerals for the drinking water.
- We can make up to 3 gallons of distilled a day which is usually enough. But if I’m busy making broth and kombucha, I may need to buy extra distilled. I know I’m getting plastic residue… I’m choosing one poison (BPA) over another (fluoride). I’m not nearly so panicked about that these days because we use a zeolite detox agent that removes both fluoride and BPA. So looking forward to hemp plastic so I can make a TRULY healthy choice here!!!
Next Step for Bone Broth
If you are using the IP, put on the lid keeping the steam release valve turned toward you (you’re not going high pressure this time) and push “Slow Cook” on the front. The default time for slow cooking is four hours. Push the plus or minus till it hits 20 hours (the max).
If not using the IP, you can lid or not — I use a lid because too much evaporates otherwise. And cook on low, with just a tiny bit of boil (I guess that’s simmer for actual cooks), for 1 or 2 days.
I like cooking my broth for 2 days. But you will still have excellent broth after 1 day! I will often open the lid and scoop out some broth for a cup of broth or to make a single bowl of soup. Broth gets yummy fast!
Straining the Broth
It can get a little tricky, gotta let than pot cool! But you can strain pretty hot broth into a Ball jar! These are made for heat.
I feed everything in the strainer (above) to the dogs and chickens. Yes, chickens eat chicken. Generally, you don’t feed cooked bones to animals because they become brittle and can splinter. But bones from making a broth that’s been cooked for 2 days are VERY soft. Big treat for them!
I love cooking this way: delicious + nothing goes to waste and a quick clean up. Try it and let me know what you think!
A tip from a long-time WAPFer and broth maker: gelatin comes from the collagen in the tendons and ligament. The bones supply the minerals. Broth made from very clean bones from younger chickens does not gel like broth make from an old bird or coq: they’ve had longer to build up the collagen!
Can you FREEZE Broth?
Yep, keeps just fine! We use broth pretty quickly around here so I rarely freeze, but it won’t hurt it.
You can freeze in ice cube trays, baggies, plastic containers, glass Ball jars (leave a couple of inches at the top so it can expand), whatever works.
How to Make the Actual Soup
We always have soup on the stove, kind of a perpetual soup. It’s wonderful to have!
To make the soup, I put 1/2 gallon broth in my ceramic pot (or you can leave in the IP stainless steel pot and continue to cook/store in that).
- Add chicken
- chopped celery (always celery with chicken!)
- fresh garlic (cloves or minced)
- some spices* (never salt — I salt the bowl of soup I’m eating)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup quinoa (a little goes a long way with quinoa)
- then whatever other veggies I have that look good: mushrooms (whole or cut up), carrots, a little potato… really, whatever you like.
Fill the pot with distilled water, cover and cook till quinoa is done, about 20 minutes, which means the veggies are usually done, too. Soup’s on — enjoy!
Leafy Greens in Soup?
A handful of fresh spinach or some of that pre-chopped salad is heavenly in a bowl of soup! Sounds so weird but delicious!!! However, like salt, we add ONLY to the bowl you are about to eat. Don’t put in the pot because those greens get slimy and unappealing, even to me who loves spinach in every form!!! When I drop a handful of greens into a bowl of hot soup, it cooks a little and retains all that flavor!
I refrigerate every night in the pot with the lid. (I don’t like using plastic wrap on my warm food.) If I don’t have a lid, I use a plate.
Also, I place a heavy ceramic plate under the pot in the fridge if the pot is still warm so the tempered glass shelf is not in danger.
As the soup gets eaten, I add more broth + distilled water, about half and half, depending on how thick the soup has gotten. Then add more of whatever veggies/spices we feel like. This “refill” process continues until I’m out of chicken and/or broth and need more! Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a week, totally depending on who’s around and eating soup!
Then I start over with a new frozen chicken 🙂 Like I said above, we buy 10 at a time from our farmer!
*We love spicy but the baby does not so we are frugal with it. Sometimes a little cumin which is as spicy as we go right now. But we have been known to throw a whole jalapeño in the broth pot! Rosemary is ALWAYS good with chicken, just like celery… here’s our Family Mirepoix which pretty much goes in everything ♥
P.S. Is Pressure Cooking Healthy? Here’s the answer I’m going with (YES)!