Summer may be approaching and soup may be far from on your mind, but broth is a staple in this house hold. I keep broth at the ready for many reasons, but they all come back to health. Broth is a phenomenal health builder, good for the immune system, the heart, the brain, the gut, the skin… the soul.
I have three versions of broth I would like to share with you, one for each type of need. I use an Instant Pot for my broths, but you can always use a basic slow cooker or a pot on the back of your stove.
Here is the list of basic ingredients you will need for all three:
- filtered water
- sea salt
- apple cider vinegar
- mix of vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, garlic, etc.
- herbs: oregano, parsley, thyme, pepper, etc.
Let’s start with chicken broth, as it is probably your first thought! Chicken broth is such an easy home remedy for what ails you, and it tastes so rich, too. That’s because it is! Those bones are powerhouses of minerals and nutrients. Cooking the bones over low heat releases the minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, omega fatty acids, protein, collagen… you get the idea. The slow and low method breaks down the bones and allows these nutrients to escape the bone and infuse the broth.
As I cook chicken for meals, I reserve the leftover bones and meat parts. Usually I keep a container in the freezer dedicated to broth parts- bones, meats, tendons, cartilage, and random vegetable parts. When it is full, I know it’s time to make broth!
So into the Instant Pot I dump my broth contents, and then cover with clean filtered water. Personal preference note: Make sure there is plenty of garlic! I love garlic cloves in my broth, as they add more depth to the flavor. Add the sea salt, black pepper, and apple cider vinegar. For chicken you only need the seasonings to taste and the apple cider vinegar can be a tablespoon or two. Save the herbs.
Cook the broth on low for 12 hours or so. Keeping it on low preserves the natural and collagen proteins. Too high heat will break them down and you will lose the benefits, and the gelatinous quality of your broth. Once it is down, remove from heat and allow to cool. It is at this point I add my softer herbs. They can be overcooked and lose their flavor if cooked too long. So I allow them to infuse the broth for the last hour or so during cooling.
Once cooled, strain the broth into wide mouthed mason jars and allow to cool further before covering with a lid and placing in the fridge. Label (this part is important!) and freeze until needed.
Next let’s talk about beef broth. This broth is a stronger flavored broth, but richer in minerals and nutrients. This happens simply because the bones are bigger and more dense than little chicken bones. it is for this reason too that the broth needs to cook longer than chicken broth.
You follow the same steps as the chicken broth, but increase your apple cider vinegar to 1/4c. Allow this broth to cook on low for 24 hours. If not using a lidded pot, please monitor the water level to ensure it doesn’t evaporate and burn. When done cooking, remove from heat and add the herbs. Once completely cooled, label and store in the fridge or the freezer.
Last but definitely not least, we have vegetable broth. This broth is wonderfully nourishing, though it lacks the collagen and protein of bone and meat broths. You still benefit from the antioxidants and nutrients in the vegetables, and it will add great depth to your meals and soups.
Follow the basic ingredients list for the broth and allow to cook on low for at least one hour. I would cook for up to a couple of hours, but you really don’t need a long cooking process as you do for the bones. When complete, you will have a richly colored broth, but don’t expect gelatin like consistency.
Here I have some added tips on getting the most out of your broth:
- Use top quality ingredients. Since you are cooking with the intention of extracting the nutrients, you want organic herbs and vegetables, pure water, and grass fed bones and meat. You don’t want to extract any chemicals, hormones, and pesticides with your nutrients, so cook clean to eat clean.
- Always, always, always cook on low. Too high and even too long can alter the taste and quality of your broth.
- When straining, dump the herbs and veggies but save the bones. You can use them again for a second batch. Yes, it’s true! For the second round repeat the process, but increase the apple cider vinegar amount and double the cook time. You will be getting deeper nutrients released from the bones, though collagen will be minimal. This means second batch broth will be more liquid and less gelatinous.
- If you are purchasing soup bones, roasting them before cooking will enhance the flavor of your broth.
- Want to increase the nutrient content? Add egg shells! In the summer I get my eggs from local farmers. So every time I crack an egg, I wash it and save them in my freezer broth container. This will bump up your calcium levels in the broth!
- To freeze, you MUST use wide mouth mason jars. Do not over fill the jar (I leave plenty of room, as in 1/2 to 1″ of space) to allow for expansion. I also do not seal the lid tightly until after it is frozen. Failure to do so will result in cracked glass and tossed broth.
- I love to add seaweed to my broths. Kombu is a fantastic seaweed that when added to cooking liquid not only imparts flavor and iodine, it helps to extract the nutrients from the other foods being cooked. Win win!
- You can freeze your broth in muffin tins or ice cube trays. Then remove and keep in a freezer container. These are perfect for cooking vegetables, soups, sauces, or other meals.
- Drink your broth in place of tea or coffee for a deeply nourishing pick me up!
- Use the broth in place of water for rice, veggies, quinoa, and more.