Frequently Asked Questions about Making Broth

Cooked or raw meat and bones, which should I use?
Cooked meat and bones can be used. This is what I tend to do because it is the most frugal option. You can choose to use uncooked bones to. Just remember to rinse raw bones well first.

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Raw bones can also be roasted first in a 375 F oven for about forty minutes or until browned. This can give a darker, richer color to the broth. Add the roast drippings to the stock as well. And while your at it you can roast off your veggies too, but be careful they might not need as long as the bones.

This is an optional step, and one I usually skip. Raw meat is also optional, some people believe it gives better flavor but I don’t think it’s as convenient or cost effective, although you can pick out the meat after making your broth and use it in another dish. However, the meat tends to be bland, after all the flavor has been cooked out of it for 4+ hours.

Do I add the giblets, gizzard, liver or heart?
Some sources say that the giblets are a good source of gelatin. Most sources say these parts make a stock bitter. I personally do not add these parts because I rarely have them on hand. Even when I do have them I toss them but you can always experiment.

Do I cook the veggies first
You can, but you don’t have to.

What other veggies can I use?

  • Leeks are a classic addition in French broths just clean them well to remove any sand. Green onion, scallion and other members of the onion family are great.
  • Corn kernels or the cobs you‘ve always thrown out in the past can be added.
  • Mushrooms help make a broth richer and darker.
  • Parsnip gives a sweeter flavor.
  • Tomato, used in small amounts, I’d skip it in a chicken or other poultry broth but it’s great with beef.
  • Squashes and pumpkins add a lot of flavor and can be quite strong.
  • Cabbages, including broccoli and cauliflower, should also be used in moderation since they can also be overpowering.
  • Asparagus can be used. You can save the bottom stems you break off and usually toss, again just be careful it doesn’t overpower the other flavors.
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers

How long exactly should I let my stock simmer?
It’s up to you. Fish stock is delicate and shouldn’t be cooked long because it gets bitter. But that doesn’t happen with poultry, beef and other larger animals.

Generally, the bigger the bones the longer you should cook your stock. Many restaurants will put a stock pot on in the morning and let it simmer all day long.

Some recipes may even say to leave your stock on for 24 hours. I think 24 hours is a bit much, and don’t think anything past 12 will improve the flavor. The easiest way is to start a pot in the morning and strain it before bed.

Ok, so much will this make?
That depends on how much of the ingredients you started with and how much you reduce it. Generally figure half the size of your stock pot, if you fill the pot with quality ingredients not just water, will be the volume of stock left over.

Do you have any exact recipe?
No, because it’s always going to be a little different, but I do have general recipes you can follow. Making broth isn’t an exact science, it’s about understanding your ingredients and using them.

If you have leeks on hand use them, if you think leeks come from bad plumbing don’t use them. Got some extra mushrooms hanging around, throw them in, if not, don’t.

Chicken Broth Recipe
Vegetable Broth Recipe
Beef Broth Recipe

Can I use my crockpot for broth and let it cook while I’m out of the house?
Absolutely. Just leave your crock on the lowest setting. Remember a good broth is all about giving it the time to slowly simmer, this is not a process you can speed up.

Also you need to make sure someone is around to skim the scum in the first half hour to hour to keep the stock from becoming bitter. Having someone around to skim the fat during cooking also helps keep your broth from becoming cloudy.

I boiled or baked some chicken, is the liquid left over broth?
You can call it that but it probably won’t taste very good. There will be a fair amount of fat, the yellow oily looking part. This leftover liquid is also missing tons of flavor from veggies, herbs and spices. You can save it and add it to the pot when making your next batch of broth or discard it.

If it’s been at room temperature for two hours or more discard it. If it’s been in the fridge for more than three days discard it.

Should I leave the lid on the stockpot?
The lid is completely optional. Having the lid off means more liquid will evaporate and you’ll get a more concentrated broth. It also lets you keep a closer eye on any scum or fat that can be skimmed from the top.

How do I reduce my broth?
Reducing is simply letting it cook down. While making your broth you want to keep the ingredients covered with water. So, the best way to reduce it is to put the strained liquid back on the stove and let it keep on simmering. Stop when the flavor is where you want it or when it’s reduced to half the original volume.

What is this scum that can float to the top?
It’s the impurities from the bones and meat. This is the reason I don’t tell you to bring your stock to a boil. Boiling mixes these impurities into your broth before you can get rid of them. It makes your broth look bad and taste bitter.

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