Updated! Thrifty Chicken Broth in the Slow Cooker

Chicken broth (or broth of any kind, for that matter) always used to intimidate me. I'm not sure why, but it just seemed like a lot of work. I realized, however, how much I liked the flavor it added to rice and soups, so I started buying it in the asceptic containers. Wow, did that start adding up! Then I actually read the label, and there wasn't actually any indication that it was really made out of chicken! Not only is making your own stock extremely thrifty, I have a tip for making it even cheaper and simpler than normal!

To make good chicken broth, you do need to try to scout out a good source of organic , pastured chickens. In the Portland metro area, Kookoolan Farms or Deo Volente are my farms of choice. Now, you may have noticed that buying a whole organic chicken can be rather spendy. Well, I don't buy a whole chicken with the purpose of making broth (although you certainly could). If I just want a gallon or so of chicken stock for the week, I will use simply a few chicken necks and chicken feet, along with onions, carrots, and celery, to create a delicious chicken broth to use as a base for soups, sauces, and stir-fries. In an upcoming post, I will share how I use broth to make the perfect stir-fry (one that your kids will eat!!!)

Necks and feet? Where do you get those? I get mine from the farms mentioned above. Kookoolan sells "stock kits" for a very good price; about $2.50 per kiet, and each kit can make up to 2 gallons of stock. What a deal!! Feet add a lot of good gelatin to the broth. I also have gotten feet for $1.00/lb from a local chicken farmer. Just ask around! Sometimes they just throw the feet away!

If neither of the above are options, you can make pretty frugal stock simply by using chicken drumsticks. Trader Joe's sells these for about $0.99/lb.

The process:

1) First I place chicken bones/parts (at least 3 necks, 3 feet) into the crock pot with 1 onion, chopped coursely, 2 carrots and 3 stalks celery, all chopped coursely.

2) Cover with filtered water (to within about an inch of the top) and add 1 TBS vinegar (any kind). Let sit for 1 hour. This step is crucial as the vinegar draws out the minerals from the bones into the water.

3) Turn on the slow cooker, cover, and cook for 6-24 hours.

4) After cooling, strain the broth into mason jars leaving about 1 inch from the top if you will be freezing it. Make sure to label; it all looks the same in your freeer!

Update The Savings:

I apologize for not including this earlier, but I calculated how much this Thrifty Stock actually costs to make. All figures are based on the approximate cost from my receipts.

1# chicken drumsticks/necks/feet = $1.00
2 stalks celery = $0.34
3 carrots = $0.50
1 onion (Costco bag) = $0.25
1.5 gal filtered water from fridge = $0.05 (amortized cost of water/electricity/filter)

Total cost for stock: $2.14 for 1.5 gallons which comes to about $0.35 per quart!
That's a considerable amount of savings for an incredible amount of nutrition!

Now what do I do with all this stock?

For other nourishing bone broth recipes and applications, be sure to check out this week's Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave!


Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home said...

Thanks Carrie! I've been wondering how to make crock pot stock for a while. I also didn't know about allowing it to sit for an hour...maybe that's why my stock wasn't gelling as well as I wanted it to!

Lauramamadoula said...

hey I just stumbled onto your blog and I'm really enjoying it! =)

I just wanted to add one thing to the chicken stock recipe... if you cook the bones for closer to 36-48 hours it makes it THAT much darker and thicker and rather concentrated. which then can be cut by other things (my favorite being coconut milk) or water or cream ect. it's easier to store a little in smaller freezer containers for future use this way. and you get even MORE bang for your buck both financially and nutritionally ;) and if you use a crock on low it wont burn or scald.

Carrie T said...

Hi Laryssa,

Thank you for the comment!


Thanks for visiting! That's great advice! I often do go for longer and got the same results as you mention, however I was worred that I had over cooked it and perhaps damaged the proteins. If there's no danger in over-cooking, then you're absolutely right about the better value ! I also love to cut my stock with coconut milk!

Thanks for sharing! I really appreciate it!


lolaloves13 said...

How do you prepare the feet? I have a bunch of chicken feet in my freezer. I could never bring myself to use them. There was so many and well they kind of freaked me out. You have given me some motivation here to face the feet. Do I need to do anything special before I just throw em in the crockpot?

BM said...

Hey... I used a WHOLE chicken? Is that bad? Also, my boyfriend thinks this is not very economical b/c of running the slow cooker for so long... hmm...