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Jan 7, 2013 03:25 PM

Chicken broth -- help!

I start with a chicken or turkey carcass. I add some combination of the following:

ginger (root)
various herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, ect.)

I skim periodically, allowing it to simmer uncovered. I lavish much love on my work in progress. And blah. I get blah broth. I've tried using Kitchen Basics unsalted stock for soup, and even jazzed up with a packet of unsalted Herb Ox bullion, I get bland soup. My dad recently had a heart attack and is on a low-sodium diet, so adding salt is something I'm trying to avoid. Can anyone help?

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  1. with the raw chicken parts add 2 Tbls. apple cider vinegar along with the vegetables you've mentioned above, (except I only put parsely in at the end). let it sit 30 min. - 1 hr. then bring pot to a BOIL. After it boils, you can turn it down and skim and simmer up to 24 hours, but not less than 6 hours. Add more water if needed.

    Good broth has parsley at the end because otherwise supposedly the minerals will cook out.

    It sounds like maybe you're just not letting it get hot enough - boil first then allow to simmer. The vinegar leaches the minerals out of the bones i think - not sure, but you don't taste it and it makes a much richer stock. Also, i add clean, organic veg with skins on - onion skin and garlic. I don't use ginger.. but that's just me! sometimes if i have white wine screaming at me i'll add about a cup of that as well, but it's not necessary.

    BTW all this comes from Nourishing Traditions cookbook, by Sally Fallon (hope i didn't offend any copyright police..) Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: rmarisco

      This is the second time I have heard of adding cider vinegar, I am going to try it next time I make a soup.

      1. re: Ruthie789

        I use the cider vinegar and I'm a big fan! I really do think it helps pull the gelatin out of the bones (remember that elementary school science experiment where you put the chicken bone in vinegar and it gets soft?) and either you don't taste it or it adds just a little tang to the broth that doesn't actually make it taste sour or vinegary, it just some how turns up the other flavors.

        I am wondering if the OP's problem might be that s/he's using too much water or not reducing enough? One chicken carcass won't actually make a whole lot of stock. If you simmer it in a big pot of water, you will get a watery stock unless you reduce it quite a bit. Try saving a few carcasses in the freezer and then using them in one batch, or supplementing them with some raw wings, which are cheap and make an excellent stock. Actually, the Whole Foods in my area sells the chicken backs it has leftover from butchering birds for a dollar a pound--good quality raw material for stock, practically free! See if you can find a deal like that (or ask for one) if you make stock regularly.

        One thing though--I strongly disagree with the suggestion to simmer the stock for anywhere CLOSE to 24 hours! I know this is Sally Fallon's thing but that's because she has this completely wacky, pseudo-scientific nutrition dogma and thinks that stocks have magical healing powers if you cook them to death. Most chefs advise to simmer the stock anywhere from 4-8 hours. As far as I know, there isn't any actual evidence that bones have any more to give after this amount of time, or even that they give up a lot of minerals like calcium to begin with. (Acid does leach calcium but I don't know if such a dilute solution is enough to be effective in this case, although I think it does have an effect as far as collagen goes. If anyone has any actual studies about that, I'd be interested but, one thing's for sure, Sally Fallon sure doesn't have them.) I usually simmer my chicken stock for 6-7 hours and, by then, the bones pretty much crumble. They're tapped out! I've heard some people say that simmering a stock that long will start to damage the flavor. I wouldn't know, I've never tried it, but I do know that it's completely unnecessary for getting a tasty, rich stock and a HUGE waste of energy.

        1. re: Lady_Tenar

          because of unexpected plans, I wound up cooking my turkey stock in the slow cooker for almost 24 hours. It was the best turkey stock I ever made, which could have been due to the great turkey carcass which had a little more than my usual amount of meat left on it or that it was my first time using the slow cooker for this. But in any case cooking it for that long didn't hurt it.

          My dad also has to eat low sodium, so what I do is just don't add salt to my stock and instead add the salt to whatever I am cooking with it. It gives me a lot more control and the balancing flavors in the absence of salt (lemon zest, garlic, cayenne, etc) might be different in different dishes.

    2. Try roasting the carcass and veggies first.

      1. Roasting the veggies and carcass is good, as wyogal suggests. I've always found that including legs or wings with the carcass will make for a richer tasting broth-into-stock.

        1. Unfortunately, the salt is a huge component in the final flavor of your soup.

          A couple of thoughts:

          1. I lavish minimal love on my stock by making it in a crock pot. Toss everything in, cover with water, slow cook overnight. Perfect stock in the morning.

          2. Since you don't want to add salt, try taking your stock and reducing it after you remove the carcass and veggies. You'll lose a lot of volume, but you'll intensify the flavor.

          But seriously, the no salt thing is going to be hard to overcome. Maybe try adding a little bit of salt?

          4 Replies
          1. re: TorontoJo

            I've been doing the same thing, slow cooker stock rocks! Leave until you want to deal with it, usually overnight.
            And yes, reducing the resulting stock/broth will make for better flavor.

            1. re: wyogal

              It's the best, isn't it? I recently told my mother that I make stock in a slow cooker. She tried it herself and hasn't stopped thanking me since! And this is from a woman who has been making her own stock for 50+ years. :o)

              1. re: TorontoJo

                How big is your slow cooker? The largest we have is 6 quarts and that's not big enough. The part about making stock that is time consuming is the skimming and straining. To me it takes just as much effort to make it in a slow cooker in a smaller quantity as it does in a large stockpot.

                1. re: John E.

                  I have a 6 quart as well. I manage to put two small-ish chicken carcasses and plenty of veggies in there. Cover with water, then set and forget. No skimming necessary. Mind you, I'm not using raw chicken, so I don't know whether skimming would come into play there. Straining is done in the morning by dumping everything through a colander. If I need a clearer stock, I'll do a second strain through a cheesecloth, but for my everyday use, I don't bother with that.

          2. Tell us something - does your broth become jello after refrigeration?

            1 Reply
            1. re: cutipie721

              It does become jello after refrigeration. Bland jello. Before the heart attack, I never realized how many recipes called for chicken broth. Thanks for all suggestions.