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Making Real Homemade Chicken Stock or Bone Broth

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: July 4, 2019
Making Real Homemade Chicken Stock or Bone Broth

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Editor’s Note: This is a special contribution from longtime BDS reader Donna. Since it’s flu season, we resurfaced this one! 

Making real homemade bone broth is a fantastic way to stay healthy and boost the immune system during food shortages or calamity.

Broth, Stock, Bone Broth, whatever you want to call it is the trending item for health right now. Our grandmothers trusted its healing benefits for their families and taught their daughters the art of making a nutritious bone broth.

Ounce for ounce good homemade broth is one of the most nutrient-packed foods available and is a staple in ethnic diets around the world. It is versatile, travels well and is available in liquid or powder form. It’s good for what ails you, giving the old immune system a power charge.

Believe it or not chicken, beef or fish stock is easy to make. It is a satisfying process and even the aroma of simmering stock simply makes you feel better. I enjoy making it in the Autumn when there is a nip in the air. I guess that’s just the nesting instinct.

Having a generous supply of home canned bone broth is a must for a well-supplied prepper pantry. It serves as a base for healthy soup or stew, and as a hot sipping beverage at the hint of cold or flu symptoms.

Real homemade stock contains minerals in a form the body can easily absorb. This is not your Swanson. This is not your Campbell. This is real, no sodium in the 800 mg. range, no caramel color or artificial flavor kind of stock.

The real stock has not been irradiated with microwaves as broth packaged in cartons or cans has been.

This is stock like granny used to take days to prepare. When it is finished and cooled, it becomes a nutritious gel. There’s nothing in the world like the real stuff!

I promise that if you try it once you will never again be satisfied with store-bought chicken flavored salty water! I guess I sound like a “stock snob” but if you try it just once you will become one, too!

Chicken Stock Elements to Consider

There are 3 elements to consider when choosing to make or to buy stock.

  1. Quality – Which from my above comments, you already realize my bias.
  2. Price
    • Grocery store bought – You can purchase a good quality broth online from specialty stores .
    • Homemade –  The broth is economical and good for maintaining and increasing health. It uses foods that you would be throwing away anyhow and makes more food out of it.
  3. Shelf-life
    • Store bought: 6-8 months
    • Homemade: 18-24 months

For me the best chicken, fish or beef bone broth recipes are from Sally Fallon Morrell’s book.

Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell

Besides having fantastic healthy recipes, the book is simply fun to read. It contains well-researched nutrition facts, food stories from around the world, and little blurbs about what ingredients are actually contained in some of our most consumed foods.

It just might change the way you think about nutrition. Of course, there are many wonderful recipes available, so peruse them and choose the one that best suits your needs.

When anyone in our family begins to feel a hint of a cold or flu symptoms or just a smidgen of stuffiness, I head to the pantry and pull out a quart of bone broth…in every case so far the symptoms leave and health is restored quickly.

Usually there is no costly trip to the doctor’s office nor prescriptions to buy. And best of all, no head stuffiness or coughs that lasts for weeks.

There really is “something” to bone broth. Granny did know best!

History of Chicken Soup

Chicken soup’s reputation for curing the common cold goes back thousands of years, and this nourishing food is present in one form or another in just about every part of the world, from the traditional Jewish golden yoich to Chinese QiguoJi.

More recently, Dr. Stephen Rennard a researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center began to study the effects of chicken soup after a conversation with his grandmother. His findings, reported in 1993, have since been cited in more than 1,200 publications.

Benefits of Chicken Broth

Dr. Rennard found that chicken soup is a veritable “soup” of beneficial ingredients that can help alleviate common cold and flu symptoms, and even help the body fight off the infection itself. And best of all, with this remedy there are no bad side effects!

The study began with a focus on possible anti-inflammatory properties present in chicken soup. His studies of white blood cell movement in particular showed that grandma’s chicken soup had the ability to inhibit that movement, which in turn would lead to decreased mucous production and reduced inflammation.

Besides boosting immune system function and helping with sickness symptoms, chicken broth has several other reported health benefits

  • Nutritious: A rich homemade chicken broth or soup is chock full of nutrients, including protein, calcium, and gelatin from boiled bones and vitamins and minerals from carrots and other vegetables. Chicken soup also provides electrolytes, which are especially valuable when the body is dehydrated from vomiting.
  • Boosts liver function: The gelatin in chicken stock has numerous benefits, including providing the body with glycine, an amino acid that is critical for liver function and detoxification.
  • Helps build bone and cartilage: The gelatin in chicken soup and chicken stock has also been reported to contribute to building healthy bones and joints, making it especially effective with the calcium that’s also present. Not long ago, this was common knowledge, but more recent statements by western doctors and publications have cast doubt on the early research. However, evidence to the contrary is still lacking.
  • Improves digestion: Chicken stock’s gelatin content is also reported to increase digestibility, and may even help protect and restore the intestine lining.

How Does It Work?

Despite years of study, scientists have not managed to nail down exactly how chicken soup works the way it does. It has been made clear that gelatin and numerous amino acids may play a large role. In addition, the warm broth may be partially responsible for relieving sinus pressure.

Some of chicken soup’s effectiveness stems from the vegetables and spices that are added.

  • Garlic, for example, is a popular remedy for respiratory ailments and helps boost the immune system and strengthens the heart.
  • Ginger is another herbal remedy present in some soups that boasts anti-inflammatory and stomach-soothing properties.
  • Carrots and onions offer antioxidants, while the chicken itself contains compounds that help loosen up mucous.
  • Adding spices like green chile or other hot peppers can also offer some extra vitamin C and help relieve stuffy sinuses.

When combined, all these ingredients make up the perfect comfort food and cold-fighting remedy. There’s no doubt that chicken soup is very beneficial.

Each of the ingredients in Grandma’s Chicken Soup recipe below was chosen for the vitamin and minerals it provides. Even if scientists haven’t quite figured out all the details yet.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup

Serve this at the first hint of a cold or flu. This is best sipped from a large mug while relaxing—allowing your body to renew and heal.


  • 5- to 6-pound organic stewing hen or baking chicken
  • 1 package of chicken wings
  • 3 large onions
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips
  • 2 turnips
  • 11 to 12 large carrots
  • 5 to 6 celery stems
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
  2. Add the chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, and carrots. Boil about one and a half hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
  3. Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 minutes longer.
  4. Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup. (The meat makes excellent chicken parmesan.)
  5. Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through a strainer. (Both were performed in the present study.)
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken soup is good for you when you’re sick. That’s the widespread consensus, the wisdom passed down by mothers and grandmothers for generations. Some claim that this is just an old wives’ tale, and that the soup is really just “comfort food.” But is that really true, or does chicken soup have some special health properties after all?

As you can see, scientists have recently put this feel-good dish to the test and concluded that, once again, old wisdom holds true: chicken soup really is an effective home remedy for the common cold and flu.

Follow the General Bone Broth Recipe Below

Using organic or grass fed chickens is the best if you can do it. I like using the chicken legs because the long bones contain more marrow. Note the small bits of gelatin already in the pan after baking. This goes into the pot and adds a deep meaty flavor to the finished stock.

Wings and the whole carcass are healthy additions that create even more gelatin. If you have access to organic clean chicken feet add them to your broth ….. you’ll have an amazing amount of gelatin. Add any cartilage parts like chicken backs to increase the amount of gelatin produced.

Put all ingredients into a large stock pot, cover and simmer slowly for at least 48 hours.   You may use a slow cooker but you’ll probably need to borrow a few extra slow cookers to have enough broth to make it worthwhile to process them in a pressure canner.

When all has been simmering for about an hour, remove the meat from the bones and return bones to pot and continue simmering. Save the cooked chicken to make chicken salad, or use in another recipe.

Continue simmering the bones and vegetables, being careful to maintain a slow boil. If any scum rises to the top just skim it off with a large wooden spoon and discard.

After simmering for 60-75 minutes remove the chicken and cool it enough to handle and remove meat from bones. Save meat for another use. Return bones to the stock pot. Cover with lid.

With a sieve, strain solids from broth and crack the bones.

After 8-9 hours of simmering remove the bones with a slotted spoon and place on a cutting board. You will find the ends to be quite soft. With a small hammer crack the bones to expose the marrow and return them to the pot. Cover and continue simmering.

As the stock simmers the bones and cartilage are releasing minerals, collagen and that wonderful bone marrow. Don’t panic about the length of time making bone broth takes. Most of the time you can be doing other things.

Collagen is the most important protein in connective tissue, skin, and bones; you actually have more collagen in your body than any other type of protein. Degradation or lack of collagen can cause problems from skin wrinkles to osteoporosis.

Gelatin is the cooked form of collagen – it’s the way we can eat the beneficial amino acids in the collagen without having to sit down to a plate of raw tendons for our supper. So ladies and gentleman if you want lovely skin and strong bones have bone broth often.

If you want to make beef broth you need both the knuckle bones, for the collagen and marrow bones for the goodness of marrow.

Making fish stock requires the whole fresh fish carcass as well as the head. Your local butcher or grocery seafood department will usually save carcasses for you. When I use fish stock I make chowder. It is rich and hearty. The chowder is made from the clear stock. You cannot process any milk products.

I usually have 2 large stockpots going at the same time or as I mentioned you can use slow cookers as long as the actually slow cook. Some of the newer “slow” cookers can boil on low heat.

Jars of heathy goodness! Bone broth can be consumed as a beverage or as a stock base for soups and stews. You control the salt and spices. Usually a quart calls for a teaspoon of salt but I use ½ teaspoon. More can always be added after canning.

When canning broth, you must absolutely use a pressure canner, not a pressure cooker. The cooker does not get to the pressure needed to kill any pathogens that might be present.

Gelatin verse Hydrolyzed Collagen

Hydrolyzed Collagen hydrolysate is not exactly the same thing as gelatin. In the hydrolyzed form, the collagen is processed more intensively, as in pressure canning, which actually breaks up the proteins into smaller pieces.

They both have the same amino acids, but different chemical properties. When heat processed the gelatin is no longer in a gelatinous state.

Is Bone Broth Good for Dogs and Cats?

A resounding yes! One caution is to make sure it is homemade so sodium levels can be controlled. Excessive sodium intake may cause the same problem in your dogs and cats as it causes in their humans, mainly heart disease and kidney problems.

One of our grown children has a pair of German Shepherds. The older one has hip dysplasia and arthritis. Since taking bone broth regularly he is more mobile and doesn’t lay around in discomfort. Although not quite acting as a puppy he has a more youthful outlook on life.

Bone broth reduces joint pain and inflammation courtesy of chondroitin, glucosamine, and other compounds which are released from the long simmered cartilage. This is true for humans as well.

*Don’t give your animals the leftover chicken bones as they are sharp and can cause choking and death. Beef bones are fine to share with your dogs. They will love you even more!

Final Thoughts on Chicken Stock

At first glance, the task of making bone broth may seem daunting. But making it is the same as any new project. Once it is attempted, the process becomes easier and by the second or third try you become a pro.

Having a supply of nutrient rich bone broth, as a line of defense against illness, is well worth it. I have given you some basics about preparing and using it. Now you know a few of its healthful benefits.

Returning to what our Grandma’s used to make, to sustain them and their families through hard times, is one important skill we can learn now to protect our family’s health and well-being now and when calamities come.

If your time is limited or you don’t have a pressure canner there are several powdered bone broth options on the market. Whichever way you decide to go, adding bone broth, beef, chicken or fish, is a sustaining addition to excellent prepping.

As a reminder, be sure to pick up Sally Fallon Morrell’s book Nourishing Traditions here for a variety of hone broth recipes.

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15 Responses to “Making Real Homemade Chicken Stock or Bone Broth”

  1. BROTH ME!! BROTH ME!! BROTH ME! I make some about twice a month! (but I am not quite so ‘scientific’..
    I make chicken, fish, beef and VEGGIE Broth. If we cook whole chicken on the grill…I keep the inerds and trim so fat from the back of the chicken, Place in plastic bag,,into the freezer. Once I have about two or three ‘gatherings’ of those parts…all frozen..some for months…into my stock pot they go. If I have a recipe for boneless, skinless, chicken breast, I buy the cheaper skin on, bone in breasts and do the butchering and cleaning myself as save the ‘parts’ for the freezer. Even with just me and my wife at home now, just how fast those ‘parts bags’ in the freezer fill up is still amazing to me. So..pot 3/4 or so of fresh cold water,,,chicken parts..-well…now honey…let’s get creative just a weee bit-….
    I add a small palm full of pepper corns…I also have a small 20 x 30 above ground ‘herb patch’..Yep,,,you guessed it…You know those odd looking carrots..cleaned and quartered, in they go…you know the long hard stalks on the bottom of the patches Cilantro you buy at the store…in they go too…(you can still put them in the compost afterwards) I also save my Basil stalks, in the pot too…I also have some oregano in the garden and it is hardy and green all year long here in So. Texas…that too..”OLD LIMP” celery, stalk onions, onion peels, old goooshie tomatoes…old dry ‘any veggie’ in your veggie drawer….old fennel, dill, ..any herb…YOU PAID FOR IT…USE IT…Keep in mind, we’re going to boil this stuff to smithereens so you don’t really have to worry too much about it…BUT…NO MOLD or ‘green penicillin’ items. Old dried up mushrooms…wash them properly…in the pot! I also ‘crack’ big bones of beef and chicken legs…Oh yea..OLD DRY lunch meat? old pastrami, turkey, pepperoni…’look closely at them-no ‘greenie meanines’- just to dry to go to school on a sandwich–if you don’t have a good old dog…now you know where it should go… So… all our ‘stuff in the pot?’…GET COOKIN.. turn on high heat…bring to boil…WATCH IT…it will ‘froth up’ and boil over at first boil. So, once boiling…stir…turn back heat a bit…put lid it! It can still boil over. I boil for at least 4 to 5 hours….TO SALT OR NOT TO SALT… I don’t. If the broth has no salt, and you know this, then when you pull it out for dishes…you will know to add it then…. Boiling completed, I let things cool least one hour and ‘strain’ the contents. A simple plastic colander works…(Compost solids)…then I restrain with a small mesh wire screen strainer…. THEN..ONE MORE TIME! I line the big plastic colander with cheese cloth and filter one more time. I compost all solids. Yes..if bones are small…in they go. So now we have good, clean, semi-clear broth…but what to do about the fat. After cooling, the fat comes to the top and I dip out, and save the fat. Then, I have a liquid-fat, plastic, separator and it drains the broth from the bottom and the fat stays on top. Yes…Yes…yes…I save the fat. So, finally, we have a clean, non-fat, broth. I use it a lot, so I do not can it. I just pour it out into large plastic glass, (Walmart), cover the tops with SyranWarp and rubber bands, and into my freezer. I also have some old, metal, mechanical ice trays and fill the up and freeze the too. This makes it SO EASY, to take a few cubes and add to packaged, single serving soup packs..take a few our for gravies, stuffings, … a recipe says ‘add two cups of water…add too cups for your fine, high quality broth. rarley do I add water to anything..To use the glasses of broth… NUKE IT HONEY! two minutes on Hi. Stir a bit…two more minutes and you are Ready Freddie to add to your meal. You will be amazed how this stuff ‘Brightens and Complexes’ the flavors of all kinds of things..Chicken Noodle Cassaroles,,package gravy, If you see WATER in a recipe…Don’t do it! Add your broth…It goes away fast around here.

  2. Agree with RayK, add a bit of raw ACV to help leach the minerals out of the bones. I am hit or miss on getting a gelatinous broth, but it’s okay. I have the stock, and it is still healthy. I don’t have a pressure cooker, but use my crockpot. If you have a woodburner, that works well too.

    • To Ray and Grammyprepper.
      You are absolutely right. Adding Apple Cider vinegar does draw out more minerals from the bones. I do that and just forgot to include that detail. Sally Fallon also includes ACV and she is the ultimate expert. However….it is fine to use slow cooker or woodstove to simmer the bones and I suppose that is what you mean. But for long-term (1-2 years) storage of a meat related product it is imperative to either freeze or can in jars in a pressure canner. if you do it any other way you risk loosing the broth to spoilage and getting very sick. I have an Amish friend who used a water bath for several years for canning chicken and it would spoil every time. I had an extra old, but good pressure canner and gave it to her…….no more spoilage and I felt a lot better about the safety of her family! You can often find pressure canners at yard sales for $25-$30. If they are the type with a rubber gasket your county extension office will usually test them for you . The cost of gasket replacement is minimal.

  3. In the freezer works well for 3-4 months, Glenn. Make sure they are well wrapped in freezer paper. Freezer burned bones will transfer that off taste to your stock. If you use the fridge you only have 2 days before they start to loose nutrition and freshness, I also doubt if 2 days would give you enough time to accumulate the bones you’d need. So to be safe and assure freshness I’d use the freezer. Let me know how it turns out. I think you’ll be happy with the quality and cost of your good home made stock. It’s a great winter food to have on-hand.

  4. Thanks for reading the article Mary. You have some good questions.
    Yes, you can freeze the broth. In the freezer it will be good for about 6-8 months in a freezer zip lock. I trick to cut down on freezer burn is to remove most of the air, You need a little airspace to allow for expansion as the broth freezes. You can also freeze it in plastic freezer boxes.

    I usually use about 3 gallons or a little more of water but of course that will be determined by your pot size and how much stock you want to make and how many bone you have..Yes the very low simmer is 48 hrs. sometimes even a bit longer. I keep the lid on to reduce expected evaporation. With the 3 gallons of water I get about 10+ quarts. You can add up to a quart of water is there is too much reduction if you’d like. The trick is keeping the simmer very low. There is no rigid measurement for this. I hope it turns out well for you. It’s hard to go wrong.

    • If you want to freeze the broth try using old fashioned ice cube trays. You can then use the cubes to add flavor to broth,gravy, veggies ect. you can also just pop one or two into some hot water to make broth for sipping

  5. Sorry I didn’t immediately read the entire article at this moment, but my question is: Is it good practice to use a pressure cooker (not pressure canner), to make this broth? My thinking is that it may heat and sterilize away any of the good benefits of the broth. Any ideas?

    • Jeff, thanks for your interest. Your point is well taken. Fresh or unprocessed is ALWAYS best and highest in nutrients, but of course for long-tern storage that isn’t possible. According to the USDA using a pressure cooker is not adequate to kill pathogens or to seal canning jars well, even though they may “appear” to be sealed.
      There are foods that can be water bathed but anything involving meat or meat sourced foods MUST be pressure canned. The only other option is to freeze the broth, and there are times when I freeze a portion of a batch. But I like to know that there is stock available when the electricity goes out. The store bought stock is hyper-processed as is most of the powdered broths, although some are processed with low heat….not sure which ones though…so there is a compromise….but it’s still much better than the alternatives, in my opinion.

    • So I am curious. Why when you admittedly didn’t read the article would you then ask questions that may be ( and in your case was ) answered in the article .

  6. Sounds good.. it I don’t have a pressure canner. But I do have a few questions.

    Can I freeze the bone broth …. if so, for how long?

    How much bone broth will one recipe make?

    How much water do you start with and REALLY simmer it for 48’hours

    Thank you.

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