Chicken Broth or Thank Goodness for Slow Cookers

20190414_161322Almost a year ago, I found out that I had high blood pressure….ridiculously high blood pressure.  Go to the emergency room and get that under control right now high blood pressure.

So, a night in the hospital (which sucked), a whole bunch of tests and a great deal of blood taken, I have continuous prescriptions and rules I need to keep in mind when I eat.

Lose some weight, watch the salt, drink lots of water, knock off the caffeine and so that is what I am up to these days.

I dropped caffeine immediately, took up drinking water by the jug, knocked off the salt and am working on the weight.

Salt was tough, though.  It’s in everything….I used to use convenience foods, but got rid of most of it from our diet because my son has ADHD that I refused to medicate.  I am used to cooking from scratch, that’s what my mom did, therefore I knew the basics, just didn’t practice all that diligently 🙂 Now, however, I am quite strict…..I do weekly meal plans (a little backwards in that I shop, then figure out what to make, but it works for us), I cook from scratch, I scour for recipes, I try new spices, new vegetables, new fruits, new methods – it’s always a good time around here.  So, in the effort to continue cooking from scratch with the least amount of salt possible, I make & can my own chicken broth.  I admit that it is a work in progress, but the gist of it follows.

Any time we have chicken, whether a whole bird or bits and pieces, all bones & skin go into a large freezer bag.  When the bag is full, broth is imminent.  If I want to can broth, I will wait til I have 3 or 4 bags full before I go for it.

Chicken Broth

1 large bag of chicken bones & skins

1 large onion or a couple small ones, quartered (don’t peel, just make sure the skin is clean of dirt – the peel adds some beautiful colour)

2 or 3 stalks of celery, broken into 2-3 inch pieces

2 or 3 carrots, scrubbed and broken into 2-3 inch pieces

handful of parsley

5 or 6 cloves or garlic, again, don’t peel, but perhaps cut each one in half to release the goodness

a bay leaf or two (depends on your taste)

2 or 3 TB of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp to 1 tsp black pepper (depends on your taste)

1 tsp paprika

Water to fill your slow cooker to very near the top – about 7 cups

Bear in mind that all this depends on your taste, so if something doesn’t appeal, don’t put it in.

I’ve added rosemary, lemon pepper, Mrs Dash seasoning, McCormicks general seasoning with no salt, celery seed, cilantro – whatever you like the flavour of will work.  I don’t use sage as it tends to get stronger and bitter when canned, but if you aren’t canning the broth, add it if you like it.

Turn your slow cooker on high for a few hours, then turn it down to low and cook for 24 hours or so.  The longer you cook it, the more the bones will break down and the more you’ll get from them (til there’s nothing left).  I have heard of people cooking this for 48 hours, but I find 24 works for me.

After the 24 hours, I turn it off, tip the lid a bit and let it cool for a few hours – my slow cooker runs really hot, so the broth is lava hot at first.  When cool enough to work with without scalding me, I scoop the bits into a colander or strainer over a bowl (don’t want to waste any).  When it’s drained, I dump the bits into the compost bin and run the rest of the broth through the strainer.  If I’m using it right away, I use it – if I’m making it to can it, I’ll jar this batch up and put it in the fridge to wait while I do the next batch.

I know that some people do cook their broth on low on the stove, but I don’t think I could sleep, knowing the stove was on all night and day.  It can also be done in a pressure cooker, which I have done, but I didn’t find the flavour was quite as complex that way – the bones were soft and it seemed broth-y enough, but the slow cooker is the way for me.

The first few times I made broth, I didn’t love it, which is why I try to emphasize that it should be to your taste.  What you may want to do is put in the basics and taste as you go, adding spices you enjoy, ending up with a broth that is flavoured the way you like it.

S)

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