Demystifying how to make chicken broth. It's really easy, delicious and acts as a base for tons of stuff like soups, stews and sauces. Or of course, classic chicken soup. How to make delicious broth and how to preserve it by pressure canning or freezing. Everybody calm down. It's easy.
With the chilly months (ass freezing cold) descending upon North America, all thoughts lead to soup. And gravy. And outrageously dry skin. This chicken broth recipe can help with 2 of those things, and if you're really careful, maybe even all three.
If you've always been confounded by the thought of making your own chicken broth get ready to be unconfounded. Once you learn how easy it is to make you'll have no more excuses. You'll have to make it. Why would you make your own broth you ask? Well 'cause it tastes better. A lot better. Loads better. Better.
I spent last weekend canning
Last weekend I used up every last jar in my house plus had to buy more making chicken broth so I thought now's the perfect time to talk broth. Especially for any American followers of mine who are getting close to Thanksgiving and therefore a turkey carcass.
Table of Contents
What's Chicken Broth?
Chicken broth is the broth that's made after simmering chicken carcasses that still have lots of meat on them. It takes a minimum of 3 hours of simmering to get a good tasting broth.
Then what is Stock?
Chicken stock is a thick, gelatinous substance that's made after simmering chicken carcasses and bones in water to extract both flavour and gelatin from the bones. It doesn't stay thin and liquidy like a broth. It sets up a bit. It takes a minimum of 6 hours of simmering and lots of bones to get a good stock. 12 hours is even preferable.
What is Bone Broth?
It's what hipsters call Chicken stock. Although I'm not sure they realize it's the same thing. The term became popular around the same time the paleo diet did, so I blame them.
What goes in it?
Add chicken, carrots, celery, onions, parsley stems, salt, pepper and water to a pot, simmer it for 3 hours and you have chicken broth. Once simmered, strain it and store it. That's all there is to it. Sure, sure, I grow my own carrots, celery, onions etc., but it makes ZERO difference in broth so if you're low on homegrown just use veg from the store.
It's really hard to screw it up.
Last weekend I made and canned 74 cups of broth. It involved 2 stock pots, 1 pressure canner, a whack of vegetables, 2 full turkey carcasses and a few chicken ones as well.
That's a lotta broth. About 36 pint jars.
How I Make TONS of Broth
I just keep freezing letovers.
I start my chicken broth months in advance of making it. Every time I cook a chicken, turkey or debone chicken breasts I take all the leftover bits and bones and throw them in a plastic bag and chuck the whole lot in the freezer.
I just keep adding and adding to the plastic bag until I don't have room left in the freezer for any more. Or in the case of this weekend, I took one of the 2 turkey carcasses I had in there out to get to something behind it and I couldn't fit it back into the freezer no matter how I rearranged things.
When I can't shove the frozen chickens back in the freezer without the door popping open, that's how I know it's going to be a broth weekend.
But you don't need to have that much. You can also just go out and buy 2 stewing hens to make a good pot of broth.
When the day comes to make it, I give myself plenty of time to cook it down. It isn't a lot of work, it just takes a while to reduce. Like a hyperactive child that's bouncing off the walls after a big day, you have to give it time to simmer down. You want to make sure you aren't starting it at 10 o'clock at night, because it takes a minimum of 3 hours to turn chicken and bones into broth.
To make chicken broth, gather your ingredients. Some carrots, onions, celery, parsley stems, salt and pepper.
You'll also need that whack of chicken parts I was talking about. All this came out of my freezer, including the carcass from a Thanksgiving turkey. I have been known to auction off the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving dinner to the highest bidder at our family dinner.
Just throw everything into a large stock pot. It'll fit better if you break the carcass up. Which is gross and feels borderline psychotic. You have to crack the bones apart and smash it to separate everything.
Once you do that though it'll all fit into your pot a lot better than if you leave it whole.
Cover everything with cold water. The water should cover everything by at least 2 inches and YES - you should use cold water.
Why use cold water?
Certain proteins in chicken bones only dissolve in cold water. That means you'll get a clearer broth if you start with cold water.
Hot water on the other hand extracts more of the insoluble proteins from the chicken and they float around looking all lumpy and cloudy
So. Cold water for your broth.
Bring the whole thing just to a boil, and then simmer for a mimimum of 3 hours. Do not boil it for 3 hours .. simmer it. After 3 hours give it a taste. If it tastes like chicken broth, you're done. If you simmer it for another 3 hours or so, you'll end up with chicken stock. A more reduced, stronger, thicker version of broth. Also, the more bones in relation to meat you use, the more jelly-like your product will be.
After you've simmered the broth down, strain it through a collander into a bowl. Into a few bowls actually. You've just made a LOT of broth. Show off.
Then strain it again through cheesecloth to remove any little bits of stuff.
Once you have the broth fully strained stick it in the fridge overnight to allow the fat to rise and solidify at the top. Once it's done that, you can take it out off the fridge and remove the hardened fat with a spoon.
If the fat hasn't solidified entirely you can also use this trick to remove the fat. And yes. It's exactly as satisfying as it looks.
How to Store the Broth by Freezing
The fastest, easiest way to store your homemade broth is to freeze it.
Measure out 2 cup portions into baggies and lay them flat in the freezer. That way they take up the least amount of space, are easy to store in the freezer and are all kinds of convenient.
I do the same thing with soup.
However, as convenient as freezing is as a storage method I really REALLY like preserving chicken broth. Popping open a jar is even easier and it leaves more room in my freezer for storing those big old carcasses.
Canning Chicken Broth
There are two methods of canning - the water bath method which can be used for higher acid foods, and pressure canning which HAS to be used for low acid foods.
Chicken broth has to be pressure canned. That means you're going to need to use a pressure canner. Again I say, calm down.
I use this 22 quart Mirro pressure canner. It’s among the lowest priced pressure canners and has always worked very well but has the WORST instruction booklet probably ever made.
If you want to go high end, the best of the best, The All American Pressure Canner is the way to go.
How to Pressure Can Chicken Broth
Organize yourself. Get everything ready. New sealers bought, rings and jars washed. Funnel and tea towels at the ready.
- Heat 3″ of water in a pressure canner.
- Check your jars for cracks or chips. Get rid of any that have either.
- Heat the good jars in the oven at 225 F / 105 C oven. Leave them in there until you're ready to use them.
- Heat your broth in a large pot making sure it comes to a boil then keep at a very low simmer
- Pull one jar out of the oven using tongs and then place a funnel in the top. Fill with hot broth using a ladle. Fill the jar so there is 1" of headspace.
In canning, the “headspace” is the amount of space you leave between the rim of the jar and whatever you’re filling it with. Each thing you can requires a different headspace. For example canning tomatoes might require a ½" of head space while canning chicken broth requires an inch. Usually the thinner the liquid the more headspace it requires because it pulls up towards the lid easier when under pressure. The reason you leave headspace is so the liquid isn’t pulled all the way out of the sealer when under pressure. This would prevent a seal from happening.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel to make sure it's clean. If anything at all is left on the rim the jar will not seal.
- Place a new sealer on the jar and finger tighten a ring on.
Finger tighten means tighten the ring as much as you can while using only your index finger and thumb.
Don't over tighten your rings. As a side note, once your jars have sealed you can remove the rings. There’s no reason for them to remain on the jar. The seals are what keeps the jar sealed. The rings are only needed during the actual sealing process.
- Using the jar lifter, place your hot packed jars into the pressure canner. Different products and sized jars require different processing times.
For chicken broth in 500 ml jars (pint) you process for 20 minutes.
If you are using 1 litre (quart) jars, process for 25 minutes.*
Before processing you need to “vent” your canner. Get rid of the air/steam inside so you can build up the proper pressure. To vent your canner:
- Put the lid on your canner (without the weight on it) and turn it up to medium/high. When steam starts coming out of the top, set your timer for 10 minutes. Once those 10 minutes are up your canner has been properly vented and you’re good to continue.
- Put your 10lb weight on the canner* and wait for it to come to pressure. When the weight jiggles or knocks a few times every minute, your canner is up to pressure. Only start your timer for processing once your canner is up to pressure. This can take several minutes.
* NOTE: If you live anywhere above an altitude of 1,000 feet you’ll need to change the weight used when canning. This page has a great adjustment chart and link to finding out your altitude.
- When your timer goes off and your jars have finished processing, turn the stove off. Leave the lid on and allow the pressure canner to return to normal pressure. Once the pressure is down to normal you can remove the lid. Wait another 10 minutes and then remove your jars.
- 2 chickens
- 3 medium onions cut in half
- 4 large carrots
- 1 bunch celery use 4" of the root end. Just cut it off.
- 1 cup parsley stems only (I tie them together, you don't have to)
- 4 Tbsps salt
- cold water to cover ingredients by 2 inches
- 12 peppercorns
- Put everything into a large stock pot. Cover with cold water by 2 inches and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Skim surface guck for the first 15 minutes if necessary.
- Your broth will have reduced by about ⅓rd by the end of 3 hours. Strain everything through a colander and then again through cheesecloth. Add salt if necessary.
- Refrigerate broth overnight to solidify the fat. After refrigeration, remove fat from top of broth with a spoon or paper towel. Measure into baggies and freeze or continue on to pressure canning instructions.
- Heat 3″ of water in a pressure canner.
- Check your jars for cracks or chips. Get rid of any that have either. Heat the good jars in the oven at 225 F / 105 C oven. Leave them in there until you’re ready to use them.
- Heat your broth in a large pot making sure it comes to a boil then keep at a very low simmer.
- Pull one jar out of the oven using tongs and then place a funnel in the top. Fill with hot broth using a ladle. Fill the jar so there is 1″ of headspace.*
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel to make sure it’s clean. Place a new sealer on the jar and finger tighten a ring on.*
- Using the jar lifter, place your hot packed jars into the pressure canner.
- Vent your canner for 10 minutes.
- Add 10 lb weight to canner and heat until at pressure.
- Process 500 ml jars for 20 minutes or 1 L jars for 25 minutes once the canner is at pressure.
- Once the time is up, turn the stove off and wait for the pressure to reduce. Once it does you can remove your lid. Wait 10 minutes and then remove the jars with tongs. Leave the jars undisturbed for several hours while they seal and cool down.
- Before storing, remove the rings from the jars.
- In canning, the “headspace” is the amount of space you leave between the rim of the jar and whatever you’re filling it with. Each thing you can requires a different headspace. For example canning tomatoes might require a ½″ of head space while canning chicken broth requires an inch. Usually the thinner the liquid the more headspace it requires because it pulls up towards the lid easier when under pressure. The reason you leave headspace is so the liquid isn’t pulled all the way out of the sealer when under pressure. This would prevent a seal from happening.
- Finger tighten means tighten the ring as much as you can while using only your index finger and thumb.
- Don’t over tighten your rings. As a side note, once your jars have sealed you can remove the rings. There’s no reason for them to remain on the jar. The seals are what keeps the jar sealed. The rings are only needed during the actual sealing process.
- If you live anywhere above an altitude of 1,000 feet you’ll need to change the weight used when canning.
The only time canning is dangerous is when you don’t follow the directions. You MUST follow the instructions exactly. If you under process you’ll be in trouble. If you don’t use the proper headspace you could be in trouble. If you don’t use the exact ingredients called for you’ll be in trouble.
But as long as you can follow the rules … no trouble. Just don’t wing it.
Home Canning kit (with tongs, funnel etc.)