Making homemade bone broth is so easy, and you’ll save money – LOTS of it – and nourish your family well at the same time. What could be more frugal than getting multiple batches of stock out of the same bones over and over again?
Follow these instructions for never-ending chicken broth to get delicious and nutritious broth at the ready, whenever you need it.
People are often asking where to start: you know, when they’re first coming over to a real food lifestyle and feel overwhelmed at the laundry list of changes they’ll have to make to their standard American diet (read: processed foods).
A few years ago, over the course of six months, our family moved twice, lived with my in-laws (which was wonderful, but not my own kitchen), and had a baby. After those experiences, I can say with absolute certainty the procedures I won’t ever stop doing vs. those I can let drop for a season.
My top three kitchen routines are those that embody the mission of Kitchen Stewardship® best:
- saves money
- superb nutrition
- doesn’t take much time
My Top Three
- making homemade yogurt
- cooking with dry beans I’ve said all I can say about beans in the aptly titled The Everything Beans Book (although I admit I grabbed a can or two or ten during the craziest of times)
- homemade chicken stock
Is It Broth or Stock?
Bone Broth, Chicken Broth, Chicken Stock…is there a difference? Technically yes, though the terms are used pretty much interchangeably.
The difference comes down to one sort of fuzzy distinction. Stock is always cooked with bones and may or may not contain meat, while broth is always cooked with meat and may or may not contain bones.
Another slight distinction is in the use. Some say that broth is something you sip on or drink, while stock is what you cook with.
So what am I making? The most accurate description would be stock since I always use the bones, but I guess it could magically transform to broth when I pour it in my mug and drink chicken broth?
I think for the sake of ease I’ll keep using all the terms to mean the same thing – a liquid I cooked with bones and veggies and sometimes meat to make a warm, nourishing liquid.
Perpetual Bone Broth
Is never-ending chicken broth the same as perpetual bone broth? Not really.
Making perpetual bone broth requires leaving an appliance – like the stove or a crockpot – turned on almost constantly.
There are advantages to perpetual bone broth, like not having to wash the pot or not having to strain or store the broth. But I don’t love the idea of leaving my gas range burning for days and days at a time. And while most crockpot manufacturers use a lead-free glaze for their ceramic insert nowadays, I’d still prefer stainless steel if I’m going to be cooking over an extended period of time.
Never-ending chicken broth still yields a ton of stock and saves on clean up time since I only have to clean up once at the end of the process. I’ve got you covered on storage options, too so keep reading!
Making Homemade Bone Broth Never Ending
I have made a whole lot of chicken stock in my life. Long before I embraced a real food lifestyle I was already making stock because it was something my mother had always done. Through time and reading and experimenting, I discovered I can easily get 3 batches of broth from the bones of one whole chicken.
In my experience, the first batch of stock is fabulously rich, the second is still great for many soups, especially those that might be blended or have heavy spices anyway, and the third is quite thin, used to augment rice dishes or creamy soups.
I label them accordingly for storage: “chix broth 2nds” or “turk broth 3rds”
My freezer runneth over.
How to Reuse your Chicken Bones
If you’ve never even made your own stock before, period, here’s a refresher:
- Cover bones (cooked or uncooked) completely with cold water in a large stock pot. Add a glug of vinegar if desired.
- Bring to a boil, but just barely.
- Skim and discard any foam you see.
- Simmer for 4-24 hours, adding onion, garlic, carrots and celery for the last 30-60 minutes and a bunch of fresh parsley for the final 10. Salt to taste (or salt when you use the broth – just do the same thing every time so you remember!).
- Strain out solids and cool broth.
Here’s where things change for the never-ending method:
- Sort out the vegetables from the bones.
- Return the bones to the pot – you may break them or smash them with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to release even more bone marrow.
- Cover with cold water again; vinegar optional.
- Repeat steps 2 through 5 above.
How simple is that?
You can skip adding the vegetables and label the broth as unflavored. It can still be used for thicker soups, rice, or other applications where the flavor isn’t important but a little boost of nutrition wouldn’t hurt. The process was even simpler because I didn’t have to sort out the bones:
Dump bones out into strainer with bowl underneath, dump back into stock pot or Instant Pot, fill with water. Lovely.
Different Ways to Use Bone Broth
Let’s start with the obvious – pour it in a coffee mug and drink it! That honestly is one of the best ways to enjoy this lovely nourishing liquid—especially the first batch made from the bones, which I find to be super flavorful and rich.
Bone broth can also be used as a substitute for water in almost any savory recipe. This is an excellent use of those second and third batches, which will be a little lighter in color and flavor than the first.
Add extra flavor to rice, mashed potatoes, soups, or casseroles – you could even use it for sauteing up a bunch of leafy greens or other fresh veggies.
Have you tried batch cooking? It’s one of my favorite kitchen hacks to save time while cooking real food, but my take may be slightly different than the ones you’ve seen before.
Instead of making large batches of food and saving them for later, I batch together kitchen tasks and link one night’s dinner to the next. Think of it as getting a head start on your next meal. The net result is time savings AND fresh dinners every night.
The current trend in meal prep seems to be focused on taking several hours on a weekend day to chop and prep veggies, cook meats, and then assemble the leftovers into a multitude of containers.
This is great if it works for you, but my family gets sick of eating leftovers all the time and I get tired of keeping track of all the containers in the fridge! Plus, spending 3-4 hours in the kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is usually the last thing I want to do.
My Real Food Head Start 7 Day Dinner Plan provides a framework for incorporating my technique each day to save time on future meals and even start stocking your freezer if you want, while still making and serving a fresh dinner. The best part is, you use the time you are already in the kitchen – no extra prep day needed!
Several ways to incorporate bone broth, too!
If you still need a little inspiration, try it in a few of these recipes –
- Smoky Mexican Chicken Soup
- Thai Chicken Stir Fry Soup
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes – No Drain!
- Instant Pot Mexican Brown Rice
Storing Bone Broth
If you are going to be using your bone broth within about a week, the easiest way to store it is in mason jars in the refrigerator. However, if you are making 3 batches every time you make broth you are going to need to make use of your freezer for a long-term storage option.
You can freeze bone broth in several different ways.
Mason jars, also known as canning jars, are a great way to store bone broth in the freezer. It’s important to remember to leave enough ‘head room’ at the top of the jar to allow for expanding in the freezer.
All this means is you need to leave about a 1-2 inch space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. That way, when the broth freezes and expands against the glass, it has somewhere to go (up) and doesn’t explode (out). Ask me how I know… #facepalm
Note that some sizes/styles of mason jars are freezer safe and some are not, so make sure you know what you have!
These stainless steel reusable lids (available in regular and wide mouth) are great to use for storing broth in the freezer. They also make storing leftover soups, homemade mayo, homemade ranch dressing, or any other liquid or semi-liquid foodstuffs a breeze in the fridge or freezer.
Stainless Steel or other BPA Free Storage Container
These stainless steel, glass, or other BPA free storage containers have the edge over mason jars in my book because of their stackability! Several different designs are available for purchase on Amazon.
Remember to leave some extra space in the container, especially if you are using glass, to allow for expansion.
Reusable Storage Bags
This is an excellent solution if you don’t have a ton of extra room. These BPA free reusable storage bags come in various sizes (I think quart size is best for freezing broth) and, once frozen, can be stacked neatly in the freezer.
Frozen as Ice Cubes
Frozen broth cubes are great to have on hand if you want just a little pop of extra flavor in your rice, to saute some leafy greens, or to add to some leftovers to aid in reheating.
Just pour cooled broth into ice cube molds. Once frozen, remove the bone broth cubes and store in a BPA free reusable store bag or other freezer-safe containers, as mentioned above.