Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stocking up for Winter

So, it seems everyone is posting their chicken stock recipes this time of year, and I thought I would add my own to the mix, since it happens to be Real Food Wednesday, and I am making a pot of stock right now.

Either dh or I make stock every 1-2 months to have on hand for cooking. Well, the truth is that we had it on hand in case either one of us got sick. Shortly after we got married I learned that he did not have the greatest immune system. Jeff got sick at least once a month with colds, stomach bugs, whatever. Of course I would usually only get sick in the winter, but having asthma meant that my head cold - which always evolved into a chest cold - always turned into bronchitis, which I got approximately 2x a winter.

But, with Jeff sick more often, I was sick more often, too. We did make stock to cook with, but we were having to make it more frequently then (once a month), because if we used it for cooking with and to make chicken soup at the frequency with which we needed it, we ran out quickly.

Now, ever since switching to real milk we almost never get sick, but we still have use for chicken stock in our cooking, so we make a batch every 2 months or so now. Here is how we do it:

1 whole chicken (minus the guts - I know, eloquent, right?)
half a bulb of garlic (probably 6-7 cloves) minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large carrots
2 large stalks of celery
2 T apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Freshly chopped parsley
sea salt
ground black pepper

OK, first things first. Put the chicken in the pot. Make sure that it is a pot that can hold at least one gallon, though in my one gallon pot we could barely fit all the vegetables and the water, so we had to watch it closely and keep adding water to finally yield approximately one gallon of stock. So, a 2-3 gallon stock pot probably would work best. Add chopped vegetables, salt and pepper, and the ACV to the pot, and add plenty of water (cover the chicken to a depth of several inches).

Bring the pot to a boil, and turn the heat to low or med-low. allow to lightly boil for 12-18 hours (sometimes we've gone a whole 24, but more than that is overkill). In the last ten to twenty minutes, add a good amount of freshly chopped parsley.

Remove the chicken from the stock into a bowl, where you can remove the bones and the skin to the garbage (or whatever means of disposal you prefer). Some of the meat we use right away for soup, the rest I freeze to use later (as chicken salad, chicken and biscuits, and what not). Pour the stock (through a colander) into another pot, discard the (now well overcooked) vegetables.

I pour the broth into jars to freeze, except what I'm using to make that batch of soup. When a recipe calls for "broth," I use this stock in a 1:1 ratio. If it calls for concentrated broth or stock, I use it straight.

Why is Chicken Stock good for "what ails you?"

Alright, so at this point in our adult lives, many of us have chalked "Chicken soup will heal you" up with the other "old wives' tales." Well, some of those tales are true! (Actually, did you know the phrase "old wives' tale" came about when hospitals were trying to discredit midwives and convince women to labor in hospitals, instead? So, a lot of these natural remedies are held and taught by midwives, but that does not make them false. Alright, tangent over, back to the rest of the post!)

Chicken stock has many healing attributes, though some of them we add to it. Garlic, for instance, is an antimicrobial. This is why plenty of garlic goes into my stock. I have some friends who had a class project in biology. They took some buckets and grew "sludge" in them (basically a bacterial free-for-all. Using droppers, they put a certain amount of their sludge on two microscope slides. One one slide they also put a tiny drop of penicillin, and on the other they put a very tiny piece of garlic. The garlic killed the bacteria as quickly as the penicillin!

Another benefit of stock made with vinegar is that the vinegar draws the marrow, calcium, and minerals out from within the bones. This makes a richer stock that can be almost amber in color, and it tastes wonderful. More than that, though, it is incredibly nutritious; full of vitamins and minerals that help to boost the immune system and the body as a whole.

I thought that I got this broth originally from a book called Broth is Beautiful, but it turns out that is the name of a Weston A Price Foundation article. You can read much, MUCH more about the benefits of broth there. I'll have to find out the name of that book, though... (attribute it to pregnancy brain?)

This has been a part of Real Food Wednesday - See more great posts at Kelly the Kitchen Kop!


  1. I LOVE chicken broth, and am making a pot right now too. :) I make it very similar to you, only lately I've been roasting the chicken first, then removing the meat and making the stock with the bones and skin.

    I roast the chicken in a cast iron skillet on a bed of chopped onion, celery and carrots. I use these veggies to make the broth, and deglaze the pan and use the drippings too. I do add in more carrots, celery, onion and garlic when I make the broth. I've found it makes a much richer tasting broth. I also can't resist throwing in some herbs fresh from my garden in summer, or dried from my garden in winter. Usually tarragon, oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary. YUM!

    Great post! :)

  2. Thanks for the comment. I use more herbs when I'm making soup, but leave them out of the stock-making because I don't always know how I'll be using it, necessarily.

    That method sounds really good though, I may give it a try one of these days :)

  3. Thanks so much for linking to Crock Pot Wednesday. It's always interesting to see what everyone is cooking up for the week. I like to use thighs and legs to make stock. Seems to me that the dark meat makes a richer stock. It's always nice to have it on hand. Thanks again.

  4. I'm making some right now - hoping to counter-act the effects of all the candy last night! :) Thanks for joining in on Real Food Wednesday!