More Green For Less Green

Living more eco-friendly for less money


From Trash to…Chicken Broth

Mmmm, isn't that an appealing title? Probably not.

The phrase, "Waste not, want not," is definitely one of my mantras so with my latest cooking adventure, I took unwanted food scraps and turned them into chicken broth. It took very little effort and is dirt cheap. So, here's what to do:


  1. Collect unwanted fatty chicken pieces. Whenever I cook with chicken breast, I like to remove any remaining white stuff. Whatever I cut off, I put in a freezer container. We use a Ziplock bag (a rare occurrence for us), but any sealable container will do. Just add the new meat on top of the frozen meat in the bag. Keep on collecting until you have a good amount. For me, this was a full pint-sized bag (about 1 ½ pounds of chicken scraps). Safety reminder: Do not leave your scrap bag out and do not add chicken pieces that have sat out. Despite my post title, don't treat your scraps like trash!

  2. Collect unwanted vegetable scraps. When I cut veggies, I throw the unwanted, but still kind of appealing parts into a freezer container (not appealing parts go into the compost pile). Carrot tops are great for this, as are celery leaves, the bottoms of green onions with the little rooty bits, etc. Be sure to include only things that are in good, edible condition: thoroughly washed, not rotten, etc. We use an old yogurt container for this.

Cook and Cool

  1. Defrost the chicken in the fridge or in a cool-water bath. (I was a bad girl and didn't do this. But, really you should. I will next time; I promise.)

  2. Get out your slow cooker. Add the chicken and veggie scraps.

  3. Cover it all with water. For me, this was 9 cups of water on top of 1 ½ pounds of chicken and a packed yogurt container of vegetables.

  4. Add a few extra items for flavor. The veggie scraps should provide great flavor, but ¼ to ½ of an onion, a hearty sprinkle of pepper, and some garlic will really make it yummy. We ran out of fresh garlic (craziness!) so I had to use dried, minced garlic. You also could add salt, but I prefer salting each recipe to taste rather than salting the broth.

  5. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

  6. Remove all big chunks of chicken and vegetables.

  7. Remove the crock from the housing, so it can get good air circulation around it. Let the crock cool down for 30 minutes or so. You want it to be cool enough to handle, but don't leave it out so long you violate the rules of the food safety "danger zone".

Clarify (the easy way):

  1. With the lid still on, put the crock in the fridge. Let the broth sit overnight or for at least 4+ hours until the fat has risen to the top and solidified. It will be opaque and chunky when sufficiently chilled. Use a slotted spoon, skimmer, or smallish strainer to scoop out the fat. This should be very easy. It is not, you might have tried skimming too soon. I got impatient and tried too early two times. It was a waste of time.

    (Too early; fat is clumping but it is still to early; fat is very white and clumpy--yay!)

  2. For very clear broth, let the broth settle again in the fridge. Then use a ladle to very gently scoop out the clear broth from the top without disturbing the sediment at the bottom. I was able to get out half the broth this way before I got impatient and moved onto the next strategy.

    Fat (mostly) skimmed off , sediment has resettled to the bottom leaving clear broth on top

  3. For less clear broth, use a strainer to pour the broth from the crock into another container. Try a cheese cloth for more thorough straining.

Store It:

  1. Portion the broth—I did 2.5 cup portions this time.

  2. Use within one week if in the fridge or keep it in the freezer for as long as you like to keep things in the freezer. Some say six months in the freezer for broth, but I'm not picky--as long as it has stayed at the proper temperature during that time.

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At March 6, 2010 at 10:45 PM , Blogger nsees said...

Good idea.

Warning though: don't put your crock in the frig until it is completely cooled. The change in temperatures can cause cracking!

At March 7, 2010 at 1:24 PM , Blogger P said...

Great advice! For me, 30 minutes was enough to be cool to the touch, but it might take longer for some. Speaking of cracking, I once had the glass lid of the crock pot shatter into our freshly finished French Onion soup. So sad and a pain to clean up!


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