With winter quickly setting in, colds, flu’s, and winter’s crud rear their ugly heads.
Chicken broth is one of the most beneficial broths that you can make. It helps soothe the winter chills, sore throats, rough coughs and so much more. All it takes is a leftover chicken carcass, some time, and kitchen herbs.
The best part of homemade chicken broth is you can customize each batch to fit the needs of your family.
Homemade Chicken Broth
*Please note that I am not an herbalist, or a doctor. The herbs in this recipe work for my family. Feel free to customize the blend of herbs to fit your family’s needs. Remember, to trust your instincts and always go with the rule, “when in doubt, don’t”.
1 pre-cooked chicken with meat removed – you can also 2-3 cooked or uncooked chicken breasts bone-in or out, in a pinch. The broth will not be as rich, but it will still work. If you purchased a chicken just for this purpose, remove the meat from the chicken, check to make sure the kidneys and liver were removed, and save the chicken meat.
1 large onion, or 2 small onions, cut in half and peeled
2 carrots, washed, ends cut, and chopped into quarters length-wise
2-3 celery stocks, washed, tops cut and chopped into quarters length-wise
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4″ piece of ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger*** (optional)
2-3 sprigs rosemary or 1-2 tsp dried rosemary***
2-3 sprigs oregano or 1-2 tsp dried oregano***
1 small bunch of thyme or 1-2 tsp dried thyme***
1 tsp ground sage*** (optional)
1-2 “star points” of star anise*** (optional)
3-4 pieces of fennel seed, lightly crushed between your fingers*** (optional)
2 tsp salt
**Use whatever you have on hand. Do not fret if you do not have some of the ingredients listed above. The broth will still be healthy and perfect for what you need.
Place chicken carcass and any drippings, or fat – including skin, joints, tendons, etc., into the largest pot you have. Dump in onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Place herbs on top. If using ground herbs, either place them straight into the pot with the chicken and veggies, or pour them into a poultice made from cheesecloth or a reusable tea bag and add the bag to the pot. Sprinkle with salt.
Cover the bones, veggies and herbs with 8-12 cups of water. You want the water to cover everything, and rise an inch above the highest point. if you are using chicken breasts, reduce the amount of water to 4-8 cups. You just want to barely cover the chicken. Too much water will result in watery broth.
Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 2 hours; tasting after an hour and a half. If the broth tastes rich, remove from heat and strain into a large bowl using a large colander. Let rest for 10-20 minutes until all the juice from the chicken pot has drained. If the broth is watery, continue to simmer for another 30 minutes then strain, as directed above. If you used chicken breasts, in lieu of chicken bones, the broth may be a bit watery. This is okay and still usable. To enhance the flavor of the broth, consider adding 1-2 tsp of poultry seasoning. Stir, and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.
Discard chicken mix. If you used a poultice or a tea bag, remember to remove it from the chicken mix before trashing it. If using chicken breasts, remove the chicken from the mix. Let it cool, and add it back into the broth at a later time for chicken soup.
Pour broth into a container – we use mason jars, or left over medium pickle jars – and leave lightly covered on the counter until cool to touch. Refrigerate.
Important Note: If you notice that your broth has turned into a gelatinous blob with white/green layer on top, do not worry, that is a good thing. Simply scrape off the fat with a spoon (the white/green layer) and use the broth as you would if it were liquid. Warming it up on the stove, or in the microwave will bring it back to a liquid state.
If your broth is still liquid, but has a greenish/tan-white layer on top, it is okay. Simply remove the fat (greenish/tan-white layer) with a cool spoon and discard. Use the broth like normal.
Makes approx. 3 quarts of broth (amount may vary depending on the size of our chicken).
Lasts for a week in the fridge, or can be frozen in ice cube trays and used as needed.
***Herbs in Cooking
Garlic – used to help ease colds, flu, hoarseness, treat coughs and bronchitis. It also naturally boosts the immune system.
Ginger – used to help with inflammation, warm the body, loosens phlem, ease coughs, and helps soothe aching muscles
Rosemary – used to help treat muscle pain
Oregano – used to help soothe coughs, and treat colds. It also naturally boosts the immune system.
Thyme – used to help treat colds, coughs, sore throats, and bronchitis
Sage – used to help sore throats and coughs
Star Anise – used as to ease coughs, relieve cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, and increase appetites. It is also a natural expectorant.
Fennel Seed – used to help ease fevers and respiratory congestion. It also helps relieve pain.
For more information on herbs, check out Herbal Supplement Resource