Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Chicken Broth

This post is piggy-backing on Erika's post about Chicken soup. I've actually been hearing/reading a lot lately about chicken stock of all things and have a quite lengthy post to share with you.

Here's the thing about making a good, organic chicken stock: It can not only help your body when you are sick, but it can help replace key minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and other trace minerals. It also contains the stuff broken down from the cartilage and tendons- glucosamine and chondroitin- high dollar supplements.

People are starting to link a lot of illness/disease/chronic pains and ailments to mineral deficiencies. If our soil is depleted, our plants are depleted. If our plants are depleted, our animals are depleted. You can see where this is going.

So back to the chicken broth... I had always wondered why people ate chicken noodle soup when they were sick. I thought maybe it was something about the combination of the noodles and the little carrots and the chunks of gross chicken in the Campbell's soup. Well...

Thankfully, it turns out it's none of the above! It's the actual homemade broth containing all of the easily absorbable minerals that is so good for you. I found this site that is fascinating if you are enjoying this topic. Here is a little snippet:

Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily-not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

Fish stock, according to traditional lore, helps boys grow up into strong men, makes childbirth easy and cures fatigue. "Fish broth will cure anything," is another South American proverb. Broth and soup made with fishheads and carcasses provide iodine and thyroid-strengthening substances.

When broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin. The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. Gelatin was probably the first functional food, dating from the invention of the "digestor" by the Frenchman Papin in 1682. Papin's digestor consisted of an apparatus for cooking bones or meat with steam to extract the gelatin. Just as vitamins occupy the center of the stage in nutritional investigations today, so two hundred years ago gelatin held a position in the forefront of food research. Gelatin was universally acclaimed as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French, who were seeking ways to feed their armies and vast numbers of homeless in Paris and other cities. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal. During the siege of Paris, when vegetables and meat were scarce, a doctor named Guerard put his patients on gelatin bouillon with some added fat and they survived in good health.

So today I decided to take the plunge and make the broth. I have a huge aversion to dealing with dead animals with bones, so I was happy I could just throw the entire bird into the pot and not have to do anything to him. I simmered mine for 6 hours and it was super easy. I plan on drinking a cup each day this week since our whole family has had the plague. Plus, it is going to get colder this week- perfect!

One important thing to remember that Erika also pointed out: Don't skim off the gelatin stuff. It is very important. Also important, get an organic chicken. I went to Sprouts near my house and got one for $11. All you need is celery, onion, and carrots and you're set.

Here's the recipe: Chicken Stock

1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley

*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries.

If you don't want to drink the broth immediately or want to save it for future use, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. Next up, fish broth- finally, a use for fish heads!


  1. Thanks for posting the science behind the broth Kat! I'm so glad you made it, well worth the time!

  2. Yeah, I got a little carried away, but once you start reading about stuff like this, you just find more and more and more....

    The broth is yummy, but the disentigrated chicken was pretty gross. I made Tommy sift through the cartilage, bones, and skin!