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Gotta get some broth in your life

We are all so busy.  We’re on the run.   We are thinking about what we can cook quickly and easily so that we have time to fit in the other 45,000 things to do that day.  In all the rushing around there have been some foods that have slipped off the menu and for me, homemade broths was one of them.

I’ve kinda become obsessed with the nutrient density of food.  I’m constantly asking myself what are the foods that are jammed packed with the good stuff and that taste great at the same time.

Lately I’ve seen so many references in food and nutrition books and blogs about broths and each article sings the same praises – especially when it comes to bone broths.

Thinking back to when I was younger both my grandmothers definitely had some broths on high rotation in the kitchen.

Nonna’s chicken brodo with polpette (that’s broth and meatballs) was one of the best foods ever!  As a meal on it’s own or as a starter before meat and vegies.  It is still all I crave when I’m sick and need some food love.

That memory combined with all the nutritional information I’ve read lately means I’m sold on getting some more broth into my life and on my menu regularly.

Some of you may be already doing the broth and homemade stock thing and thinking that this is basic stuff – and you’re right, it is – but for the rest of you out there that need some more brothy stocky goodness in your life, read on for some more inspiration.

I’ve made a commitment to bring back homemade broth and stock into my life.    My aim is to do a cook up once a month and then have that broth and stock in the freezer to have a starter to a meal or to add to dishes to pump up the nutritional value and flavour.

Read on and if you’re feeling inspired and maybe you can do the same?

*Warning… making a broth requires you to be at home, in the kitchen and takes time and little effort! But don’t be scared – it isn’t that hard at all.  It really only takes a few minutes to put together and then just needs to simmer away.  And trust me – I am no master chef!  If I can do it anyone can.

BROTH, STOCK – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

You’ll often hear the terms broth and stock. They are very similar.  They are a combination of water, meat and/or bones, vegetables and seasonings.  All of the ingredients cook together for long periods of time over a low heat so that all of the good stuff leaches out of the solids and infuses into the liquid.

So obviously the ingredients that you put in will determine the flavour and nutrition that ends up in the broth.  Where bones are used there are more nutrients to be gained however you also need to cook it for longer to draw out the good stuff.

Once it has simmered away for hours, the solids are then thrown out and what you’re left with is a rock start liquid full of goodness and flavour.   Technically there are some differences in stock and broths but let’s not get hung up on it – for our purposes we can use the terms stock and broth interchangeably.

TYPES OF BROTH/STOCKS

-       Animal Stocks – made with animals meats and bones from beef, chicken, veal etc and vegies

-       Fish Stocks – made with fish heads and bones and vegies

-       Vegetable stocks – made with mixed vegetables

WHY THEY ARE GOOD FOR US

Broth is full of good stuff such as:

- Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals in a bio-available form which means they are easy to consume, digest and absorb.  This is great for our immune systems and a great way to get in good quality minerals into our diet.

Broths cooked with animal bones also have extra benefits.  They also contain:

-       Glucosamine and chondroitin which help with joint pain and arthritis.

-       Gelatin and collagen which it helps to support the connective tissue in your body and also helps the fingernails and hair to grow well and strong and it rebuilds the gut, restoring a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach.

Broths made from fish heads and bones are rich in minerals particularly iodine which we don’t get al lot of in our western diets.

IT’S A GOOD WAY TO USE LEFT OVERS AND IS GOOD FOR OUR HIP POCKETS TOO

Broths can be inexpensive to make using the bones from leftover roast chickens, other roast bones and vegetable scraps you’ve saved.  If you need to buy the bones from your local butcher they also are inexpensive (or even sometimes free!)

WHY BOTHER WHEN I CAN BUY STOCK IN A BOX, TIN OR CUBE FROM THE SUPERMARKET?

Comparing commercially produced stocks to home made stocks/broths is like comparing Passion pop to French champagne.  There is no comparison.

Commercial broths are:

-       Highly processed

-       Not a natural, whole food

-       Can have additives to extend shelf life

-       Are expensive compared to making it yourself

-       Can be watery and pale

-       Can have fillers, chemicals and flavourings

-       Don’t have the same flavour or depth of flavour

-       Have a poor nutrient density compared to home made broths

-       Contain no natural gelatin

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

They do need to cook for a while to draw out the good stuff and the longer you can cook them for the better.  They don’t require much attention – they just slowly bubble away on a low heat.

Chicken stock – anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.

Fish stock – anywhere from 4 to 24 hours.

Beef stock – anywhere from 12 to 72 hours.

HOW CAN YOU USE IT?

-       Drink it plain with a little salt, pepper and garlic

-       Make it into a light soup and add meatballs, veggies etc

-       As a base for other soups and stews

-       To braise and roast meats

-       For blanching vegies to add flavour

-       For flavour on stir frys

-       For gravy

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED

If you don’t normally do stocks and broths there are a few things that you need to get ready for the cook up that will make your life a lot easier.

FOR COOKING

-       Big pot or slow cooker

-       Fine mesh sieve or strainer (metal one is best)

If you don’t have a slow cooker start with a pot on the stove and if you fall in love with broths you can splash out and buy a slow cooker – you can get really good ones for around $80 or even cheaper.

Having a good strainer is important after going to the effort of cooking something for hours you want to be able to finish the job and strain out all of the solids. A good metal strainer is not expensive and is a great investment for the kitchen.  Go on put a reminder in your phone now to buy one!

FOR STORAGE – so that you can make best use of the stock

-       Containers that can contain around 1 or 2 cups of liquid

-       An ice cube tray (that you can fill with stock)

-       A freezer

-       Permanent texter or little stickers and a pen

Don’t make the rookie error of freezing your broth in one big batch.  You won’t get the best use out of it.  A lot of recipes call for a cup or 2 of stock so it is good to have it stored in those portions.  Freezing some broth as ice cubes is great for throwing into other dishes and for cooking with vegies etc.

Labelling the broth with the type and the date that you made it will be a life saver.  When things are frozen and covered in ice it’s hard to tell apart the chicken from the beef and impossible to remember how long it has been in there!  My Nonna labelled everything in the freezer and it is a great habit to get into.  You’ll thank me later.

A FEW THINGS ABOUT RECIPES

There are lots of basic recipes with broths and stocks.  They are all really similar.  Look in any basic cookbook and you will probably find one.  A few key points to note:

VINEGAR IS NEEDED TO DRAW OUT THE BONE MINERALS

To extract the minerals from the bones you need some acid – vinegar is perfect for that.  If the recipe includes bones and long cooking time it should also have some vinegar.

INCREASING THE FLAVOUR

Some recipes will call for you to sauté or brown ingredients before you put them into the pot – this is to enhance the flavour and give a better broth.  This is optional and does take or time and effort (and more washing up).  If you haven’t got time and you need to leave this out  – don’t sweat it.

For example some recipes call for the vegies to be sautéd in olive oil and meatier bones browned in the oven or on the stove top before going in the pot.   This step is up to you.

LEAVE THE LID ON

If you don’t put the lid on you will need to keep on putting more liquid in as it will evaporate away.

TO SKIM OR NOT TO SKIM

Some recipes recommend skimming off the scum that froths to the top as your broth simmers away.  This takes a little effort so if you’re floating around do a little skimming if you are leaving the pot to cook while you’ve got better things to do you can always take off the scum and fat later when the liquid cools down so don’t stress.

VEGGIES?

Some recipes have veggies like onion, carrot and celery  – however the bone stock recipe on the Nourishing Kitchens website has a great idea -  it suggests adding a freezer bag full of scraps like carrot peels, onion tops and celery leaves.  That is genius because if you’re like me and live in an apartment it is really hard to compost and I always feel a little bad throwing out scraps – so I will give this one a go.  Just chuck the scraps in the freezer for the next broth you cook up!  Brilliant.

READY TO COOK?

Here are links to some great sites (where I get a lot of great information) with recipes with more interesting facts:

Sarah Wilson’s Blog

How to make chicken stock and my mums chicken soup

How to make bone broth and why you should

Nourished Kitchen Blog

Bone broths Adrenals Bones and Teeth

Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone Broth

Readers questions about bone broths

Chicken Soup Cure

Perpetual soup the easiest bone broth you’ll make

Fresh Chicken Broth

Roast Chicken Stock

Asian Style Chicken Feet Stock

Beef Stock Recipe

Balanced Bites Blog

Easy Recipe Mineral Rich Bone Broth

Weston A Price Website

Chicken, Beef and Fish broth recipes – broth is beautiful

Chicken Broth Recipes (a whole website dedicated to it!)

The Master Recipe For Chicken Broth

Picture courtesy of Nourished Kitchen

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