Making and drinking homemade chicken broth or bone broth is one the most common suggestions I give to patients. Either sipping a hot cup of homemade bone broth or eating it in a soup, gravy or stir-fry is one of the best things you can do to improve and maintain your health on a daily basis. In fact homemade broth is a nutritional and culinary staple in Chinese cooking (and in many other cultures for that matter). However our fast paced culture of processed convenience foods has replaced this age old tradition of turning meat and bones into healthful and flavorful stocks with prepackaged broths and bullions that are devoid of nutrition and flavor and often packed with sodium and other additives.
When I suggest making and drinking homemade broth on a daily basis, my patients always ask if an organic prepackaged broth can be substituted. The answer is—“If you are looking to improve your health, then there is no substitute for homemade broth.” Homemade broth is very easy to digest and packed full of minerals, collagen and amino acids. From the perspective of Chinese herbal medicine we say that bone broth strengthens the Kidneys. It is the abundance of this healthy Kidney energy which slows aging and allows for healthy bones, fertility, urinary function, hormonal balance, low back, knees, hair, nails and teeth. Homemade bone broth is a must if you suffer from fatigue, low libido, chronic low back pain, osteoporosis, arthritis, infertility, tooth decay, hair loss, menopausal symptoms, frequent colds, allergies or if you would like to slow the aging process or prevent any of these diseases.
Many of my patients love the flavor of our Immune Boosting Chicken Broth, which is a lovely primary broth with immune enhancing effects. But you may be looking to make a simpler and more frugal broth. You may also be looking for a broth that is rich in nutrients and collagen for treating the Kidney related health problems discussed above. In both these cases, this recipe is the definitely the answer. Not only is this broth easy to make but it also uses the bones from roasted chickens carcasses, making it a very frugal addition to your meal plan. As always, I suggest using pasture raised or organic chicken. You can get fancy and add onions and veggies to this recipe, but I really like this simple version too. I do, however, often save my collard and kales stems in a freezer bag and when I get a big handful worth I add them to the cooking broth for extra calcium. There are a few other optional ingredients in the recipe that help boost collagen and nutrients in the broth. If you can add those in, that’s great, but be sure to keep this as simple as needed so that you actually make (and drink) some form of this broth regularly.
Trust me—this is EASY. Here’s how you do it.
- 2 chicken carcasses from roasted chickens (After roasting and eating a chicken I throw the carcass in a freezer bag and freeze it until I get two of them) OR 1 chicken carcass plus 1 lb. of uncooked chicken wings.
- 4.5 quarts of water
- OPTIONAL: 2 chicken feet or necks OR 1 pig foot (together with a low cook temperature this helps create a high collagen broth)
- OPTIONAL: 2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (the vinegar helps extract more of the nutrients from the bones but I often leave it out as my family prefers the less “boney” taste of the broth made without the vinegar)
- Combine chicken carcasses and optional feet or necks together with water in a large enamel or stainless steel stockpot or a 6 to 7 quart slow cooker.
- Add apple cider vinegar, if you are using it.
- If you are cooking on the stove, partially cover the pot and bring the stock to barely a simmer on low heat for at least 4-6 hours. In order to preserve the collagen in the broth you want to make sure you cook this at a low temperature. It should barely be simmering.
- If you are using a slow cooker just set the slow cooker to low and you can let it go all day or overnight.
- If you have any impurities rising to the top of the broth, aka weird foamy or scummy stuff, just skim this off with a large spoon or skimmer and discard.
- Remove the broth from the heat and strain. Use right away or let cool and pour into containers and freeze.
(If you don’t have a slow cooker already, we LOVE our Cuisinart 6.5 quart slow cooker. It holds a nice temperature and has a replaceable ceramic insert that can be purchased separately if yours happens to break—this is a surprisingly hard to find feature. It makes this recipe so easy. We often just leave the slow cooker going and use the broth right out of the slow cooker, adding more water to replace what we used. You can do this until the bones are soft or the broth is no longer rich and flavorful. At that point you would just discard and remake with new ingredients.)