There are a lot of really good tutorials out there, like this one, but maybe I have something to add to this art as well. Broth and stock in a carton are okay, but there is always the question of what kind of animal byproducts are they using to make them…. This way, you get to hand pick all the weird kitchen scraps yourself. I like the idea of squeezing a little bit more nutrition from kitchen waste before it makes the final journey to the compost.
What to use:
Whole carcasses from roast chicken
Roasted ham or beef bones
Fresh or dried herbs- parsley, basil, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram
Trimmings from onions (include skins), carrots, celery, garlic, turnips, watercress, chard, mustard greens, tomatoes, mushrooms
Any floppy, wilted, slightly discolored, shriveled causualties from the vegetable drawer
Sea salt, pepper, splash of vinegar to release minerals in bones
What not to use:
Chunks of pure animal fat (we want broth, not tallow)
Organ meat, unless your family really likes it
Asparagus, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli (taste funky)
Any veggies with obvious mold or slime
Throw everything into the crockpot or a pot on the woodstove with enough water just to cover. Simmer for 4-24 hours. Strain through a colander lined with cheese cloth. Skim off excess fat (will solidify if refrigerated, making the job easier). I was taught by mom to remove every single speck of excess fat and oil, but my dear husband rebelled from day one, “The flavor is in the fat!” He’s totally right, leave a little shimmery layer, but remove anything excessive.
So if you have a leftover carcass from roast chicken or a ham, that’s perfect and thrifty. But what if you haven’t cooked meat for a while and want to make stock? I bought some frozen grass-fed local beef bones at the organic farm, a buck for a large bag. First I tried just simmering the bone overnight for broth. This was a mistake. Even though the bone became well cooked, even to the point of falling apart, opening the crockpot in the morning released a cloud of visceral smelling steam. I’ve skinned and butchered animals before, and this was too close to a raw carcass smell for my taste. I chucked this one, even though my husband thought it was edible smelling.
Next time, I roasted the bones in a 400 degree oven for over an hour or two until it smelled yummy. Then I added it to the crockpot with veggies, herbs, vinegar, etc. This was a much more successful, and a sophisticated rich flavor developed.
Tip- when I make stock with a small amount of ingredients, like a chicken carcass, I make a large cheesecloth “teabag” so I can just pull out the bag and toss it at the last minute. Easier and cleaner than straining.
Also, if you prep the night before by cutting up all the vegetables for soup or curry the next day, you can use those trimmings to make the broth overnight.
The above ingredients made enough broth for beef stew and beet borscht. You could also use it to cook rice or risotto or just drink from a mug.