As we often tend to go on low-carb kicks around these parts, I’ve come to know that you often find sugar hiding in some pretty unexpected places…everything from beans to tomato sauce to salad dressings often include the added white stuff.
But my personal pet peeve for hidden added sugar? Chicken broth. Go ahead and look in your pantry right now. If you have commercial chicken broth in there, chances are you’ll find sugar among the ingredient list. In fact, I’ve literally looked at every single chicken broth brand for sale at our local supermarket. All of them contain unnecessary added sugar.
So, I’ve gotten in the habit of making my own. And I got started thanks to a tip from famous tv chef Lidia Bastianich. Her advice was to stick a gallon-size freezer bag in your freezer, and then, as you go about preparing vegetables or chicken in your kitchen for your regular meals, just shove the leftover bits in the bag instead of throwing them away. Once the bag is full? You’re ready to make some chicken broth.
Such a simple idea, and yet, it works marvelously. Chicken bones, trimmed chicken pieces, even chicken skin, whether previously cooked or not…it all goes in the bag. The “butt” ends of garlic and onions, cores of celery, leftover baby carrots…in the bag. Got some spices that are about to go bad? In the bag. Even the rinds of parmesan cheese…in the bag.
Then, when you’re ready to cook, you just fill the largest pot you have with water, and dump in your bag of goodies and a generous helping of salt. Bring the water to a hard boil, then reduce to a simmer and let it cook with the lid off for several hours…at least three or four. The longer you cook it for and let it reduce, the more concentrated and tasty your stock will be. One slight warning though…it’s a very “fragrant” process…perhaps consider doing it on a day when you can open the windows 🙂
Finally, when you’re stock has finished cooking, strain it through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, and put the finished product into plastic containers to go back into the freezer, along with a new plastic bag to begin “collecting” for your next round of stock ingredients.
Using a large stock pot, each time I do this, I usually get around 16-18 cups of stock, and I use 4-cup, freezer & microwave safe, BPA-free Ziploc containers to store them. If you don’t tend to use quite that much stock at a time, another method is to freeze the stock in ice cube trays, and then throw your cubes in one big freezer bag once frozen. With that method, each “cube” is usually about 1 oz.
Added bonus? It’s free. Because I’m just throwing in bits and pieces of other stuff I would have otherwise thrown away, I’m saving myself having to buy store stock. But best of all, with this process, you’ll always be just a few hours away from a delicious, sugar-free, homemade stock.