By Cassie Johnston
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I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I haven’t bought chicken broth in years. I used to think making chicken broth was this big, long, complicated process, and that kept me from making my own forever, but then I discovered the really easy trick to super easy chicken broth, and I haven’t looked back. Homemade chicken broth is tastier, healthier (you can control the sodium levels), and, the main reason I make it, it’s so much cheaper! Especially with this method. It’s practically free!
The key? Scrap bags.
I keep two gallon-sized freezer zip-top bags in my freezer at all times. In one bag goes chicken scraps—leftover bones and skin from chicken breasts, trimmed fat scraps, carcasses leftover from whole roasted chicken. I ram it all in there and freeze it.
In the second bag goes all my veggie scraps—onion skins, carrot peels, celery leaves. I just fill it up as I’m cooking throughout the week. I don’t worry about ratios (too much onion or too little celery), I just fill it up with whatever I have leftover.
Then, once both bags are completely full, it’s time to make some chicken stock.
I dump both bags into a giant stock pot (I tend to use my 21 quart canning pot), throw in a couple of bay leaves and a few shakes of poultry seasoning, and then fill up the pot with water. I honestly don’t measure at all. See? Lazy. I also don’t salt my broth—I save that step for when I’m actually cooking with the broth down the road.
And then I pop it on the stove on high.
I bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few hours, or until the broth looks like, well, how broth should look! It should look rich, dark, and super delicious.
I know some folks strain off the fat, but I like to keep it in my broth (fat=flavor!), so my next step is to let the broth cool slightly, and then strain it. I usually strain it twice, once through a fine mesh sieve, and then again through my Greek yogurt strainer.
Then, I let it cool completely, and freeze it in four-cup servings in quart zip-top bags. I’ve also frozen them in quart canning jars—freezing in jars works beautifully, just as long as you keep enough headspace. In fact, I’d prefer to freeze them jars, but I just don’t have enough freezer space (mama needs a new freezer!).
After boiling down, I usually get between 12-15 quarts of broth from each batch (one chicken scrap bag and one veggie scrap bag). And that’s almost always enough to last me until my scrap bags fill back up again. It’s a wonderful system!
And, considering I’m going to have those chicken and veggie scraps anyway, making this broth is totally free. Twelve quarts of good, organic broth runs about $45—that’s a nice savings!
I know a lot of folks say healthy eating is expensive, and I definitely agree it can be, but I think with little tricks like this, and a little bit of time, you can make up for a lot of that extra expense.
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I love your scrap bag method! That is fabulous. I usually make my broth in the crockpot overnight (even though I hate waking up to the smell) because I don’t always have a few solid hours at home to knock it out. I also choose to skim my fat because chicken fat is high in PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids) – which are very fragile and oxidize easily.
I’m going to give your scrap bag method a go! Thanks again for the tip!
I made stock in the crockpot overnight and always feel like I am wasting all those carrots, etc. when I strain it. Using a scrap bag is such a good alternative idea. Thanks!
Now you need a pressure canner. :-) I bought one primarily because I was sick of forgetting to defrost my chicken stock until the last minute! I can mine now and it’s so easy. Definitely consider the investment if you haven’t already!
We have one! :)
I am still one of those people afraid of canning and pressure cooking! As a kid, canning week was my least favorite! Tell me they have worked out all those problems so no more exploding jars or catapulting lids! I also remember lots of jars of carrots and green beans I was dreading eating all winter.
I love the idea of the scrap bag. I already save my chicken scraps so how easy will it be to add another bag to the freezer for carrot tops, onion peels and celery ends! Great efficiency!
i love this tip!! How many times have I thrown all of that away and then bought chicken stock the next week. Thank you!
My boyfriend and I keep a veggies scrap bag in the freezer, but I didn’t even think about keeping a chicken one as well. Homemade stock is the best.
I make chicken stock in the crockpot all the time, but I never thought of using a scrap bag to put everything in it. What a great idea. I will definitely be saving all those bits and pieces now!
Homemade broth is so much flavorful than the box stuff. I also don’t salt until I actually cook it. A friend in culinary school told me that once.
I used to hide my scrap bags of chicken so no one would think I was that poor. Then I decided to add veggie scraps to the freezer and make chicken veggie stock. Now my rich friends think I am “so clever” instead of poor and I have the best base in town. You can also trim chuck roast, steak or fancy cuts ans make a great beef stock with leftover onion scraps or whatever you enjoy. Don’t make as much or keep as long but it helps out a lot with a large pot of homemade beef noodles. Thrifty is great !
I just made vegetable broth in my slow cooker this weekend using this method! As you noted, it’s awesome because I’m using materials I would’ve thrown away otherwise. I totally hear you on needing a new freezer though; I feel like my lack of a chest freezer is seriously cutting down on my cooking possibilities (including making more broth!)
THIS is such an awesome idea! I have been trying to think of ways to not waste the carrot peels!
Do you save the “paper” from the outside of the onion too?
Thank you for this, I love it!
I have always wanted to make homemade chicken broth but thought it would be too difficult or time-consuming. Thanks your post, I will be making my own this year!
You are a good, resourceful woman – carry on! And enjoy the rewards of your labor. My grandma made this stock so well, and I try to carry on the tradition. MERCI!
What a fabulous and resourceful way of making broth – I applaud you! Will definitely be trying this in winter (it’s summer here in Australia and the last thing I want right now is something on the stove for hours…haha!).
Brilliant! What a great system!
This is such a great idea! I just wish I had a freezer! (tiiiiiiiiiiiny apartment size fridge). In the event that I get to move eventually, I had a question. It might be a dumb question, but I’m going to ask it anyway because I’ve not made chicken stock before. You mention putting chicken scrap parts (bones, skin) in your bag in the freezer. Do you cook them first or do you put them in the bag raw? If it’s going in the freezer, that would work I would imagine.
Raw or cooked works, but I usually do cooked because they’re leftovers from cooking the chicken. :)
Freakin’ GENIUS!!!!! Starting Project “Bag -O- Scraps” tomorrow!!!!!
Thanks for sharing. Maybe I’ll try my luck at chicken broth again thanks to your easy method.
My issue is that I’m allergic to carrot and celery and, well, those are like the basic building blocks of brothness. I’ve tried using only onion and chicken bones but the result was kind of like liquid chicken fat that tasted of little else and so I’ve never dared try again. Any ideas to replace the celery and carrots and make it yummy still?
Try asparagus and broccoli stems. Also bell pepper trimmings give a good flavor.
Love it ! This is just what I do . I have a bin in the freezer that I put all my veg scraps in and every couple weeks it’s full so I cook a whole chicken and use the carcass and the scraps in the crockpot to make awesome stock .i did think about canning broth/stock but I was reading a canning blog and everyone on the blog agreed that after canning it has a sour taste . So no canning for me . That’s a ton of work and I would hate to toss it all after all that work and $ . I’m happy to put mine in the freezer in mason jars . Freeze them on their side then when frozen you can set them upright . Thank you Cassie for the great ideas!!
So, stupid question: you wash and peel the celery, carrots and onions. All that stuff on the end of the onion and the skin goes in the bag? Thank you
I wash everything, but I don’t peel any of it. And yes, I put everything on the onion in!
Wow! And to think…I logged onto the site to see if it is ok to SAVE my chicken broth by way of freezing it, because I always throw it out after boiling my chicken(and each time I’ve done it, I feel SO super guilty)
Had no idea I would learn SO MUCH!! Thank you so much for sharing!
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