My family is sick. Halloween candy has done it’s work on my normally healthy loved ones, and illness has raised it’s ugly head. I am so very thankful I am prepared for this very thing with a medicine better than anything the doctor can prescribe; homemade stock, rich in gelatin, minerals, and vitamins. Tonight’s menu is very brothy venison and vegetable soup, heavy on the garlic and onions!
No one knows exactly why homemade stocks and broths are so good for you, but we do have general ideas from scientific studies. True, well-made stocks are made from meaty bones, vegetables, and water and cooked so long that the bones almost “melt” they get so soft. The marrow from the cut bones gets into the broth, and calcium and magnesium are drawn out of the bones. The gelatin from cartilage helps bind vitamins from the vegetables and makes them easier for the human body to absorb. All-in-all, it’s the best medicine you can have on hand, and a great immune system booster as well. When your body is healthy it’s a lot easier to fight off illness, not to mention the great taste of soups made with your broth!
Here are general directions for preparing your own stock and preserving it.
First, gather a few ingredients and a large stainless steel or enameled stock-pot or crock-pot. The basic ingredients are listed below, but can be changed with preference.
- 1-5lbs. meaty bones from practically anything
- 2 large onions, peeled and sliced in wedges
- 3-4 large carrots cut in 1″-long chunks
- 2-3 stalks celery cut in 1″ chunks (leafy parts preferred)
- 2-4 teaspoons whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- A handful sized bunch of fresh parsley or cilantro
Combine all in a large stock-pot and cover with cold water. Heat over medium-high heat to boiling, skimming off foam from the top. Cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for 18-48 hours, adding water if needed. Remove the large pieces, then strain the rest through a cotton diaper or cheesecloth. Cool 8 hours in fridge, then skim off fat for cooking with.
After removing the fat, decide how you want to preserve your broth. It will only last a week or two in the fridge, so you will want to freeze it or use a pressure canner to keep the extra. If you are freezing it, you can heat it to liquid state and pour into glass canning/freezer jars )leaving expansion space), cap, mark with contents and date, and move to the freezer.
The other option is to use a pressure canner. Read the directions for your pressure canner and prepare accordingly. Wash and sterilize your jars and heat your lids. Heat your broth to boiling, then ladle into glass mason jars leaving a 1″ head-space, wipe the rims, and add lids and rings. Place in your canner and process as directed, usually 25 minutes for quarts and 20 for pints. Remove and cool on a doubled layer dry towel for 24 hours. Label with contents and date, then store on a dark, cool shelf.
To use your stock, use about 1/2 of the needed liquid, then add water in an equal amount. Season as desired.