How to Can Homemade Broth or Stock
We cook the vast majority of our meals at home, from scratch, and one of the ingredients we use most is stock (or broth… We’ll discuss the difference in a minute).
I probably use a quart or two of chicken stock every week on average— sometimes more if I’m making a big pot of soup. Chicken stock is super versatile and can be turned into soups, stews, and sauces, used as a braising liquid for meats or as a base for gravy, or even as an extra flavourful cooking liquid for grains like pasta and rice. (Risotto is a prime example of a grain that wouldn’t be nearly as good without stock or broth!)
Likewise, I like to keep beef broth on hand for beef stew, French Onion soup and beef short ribs. (I’m salivating as I write this).
While I don’t use vegetable stock a lot, it’s also a great vegan alternative to chicken stock!
* This recipe can be altered for chicken, beef or vegetable stock.
What’s the difference between stock and broth?
Before we go any further, let’s talk about the difference between stock and broth…
The terms “broth” and “stock” are often used interchangeably, and so are the ingredients themselves. For example, if a recipe calls for stock but you only have broth, go ahead and use broth. Same goes for the opposite: you can use stock instead of broth if that’s what you have on hand.
The real difference between stock and broth is that stock is typically made with the carcass or bones of an animal (ie. chicken or beef), that typically have little to no meat left on them.
Broth, however, is made from meat, on or off the bone, and usually some veggies, herbs and seasonings for extra flavour.
This can be super confusing— the term “bone broth” essentially means “stock”— but if you’re looking for the textbook definition of each one, that’s pretty much it.
Honestly though, the two are used interchangeably all the time, so however you want to make it or use it is just fine:)
* I use the terms “broth” and “stock” interchangeably throughout this articles as well.
I make my broth/stock with bones and carcasses with varying amounts of meat left on them, as well as veggie scraps, fresh and dried herbs, salt, and spices for lots of flavour.
Health benefits of broth and stock
Aside from flavour and versatility, broth and stock are both super healthy for you. There’s a reason why we’re told to eat chicken soup when we’re sick, and it’s all about the broth, baby!
Broth and stock are both loaded with the nutrients that are present in the ingredients used to make them, so if you add carrots, onions, garlic, herbs, etc. to your broth, you’ll benefit from all of the nutrients that are extracted from those ingredients.
Stock (aka. Bone Broth) is especially good for you, and has achieved superfood status in recent years due to its amazing health benefits. This is because stock/bone broth is made with bones, and animal bones contain all sorts of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous (found in the bones themselves), glucosamine, chondroitin and collagen (found in the joints) and vitamins A and K2, zinc, iron, boron, manganese, selenium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (found in the marrow). [Source]
While all of these vitamins and minerals are important for our overall health, collagen in particular has been touted for its health benefits, and is the main nutrient responsible for the rise in popularity of bone broth.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and is essential for maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones and joints.
Collagen supplements have been popping up in health food stores everywhere, but you can get collagen in its most natural (and delicious) form by enjoying it in some bone broth. Plus, you’ll get all of the nutrients from the addition of vegetables and herbs.
Why make and can your own homemade stock?
While you can easily buy broth or stock at the store, there are a few reasons why you should make your own (and can it too!)
First of all, by making your own broth, you know exactly what’s in it and how much of each ingredient there is. Some popular commercial brands of broth contain additional ingredients like inflammatory canola and/or soybean oil, artificial flavours and flavour “enhancers,” and excessive amounts of sodium. By making your own, you can use healthier, all-natural ingredients and keep the salt to a healthy minimum.
Second, making your own broth or stock at home is much cheaper than buying it from the store. This is especially true if you’re buying the good stuff (ya know, the organic brands without all of the added junk I listed above).
Good quality store-bought bone broth can be pretty pricey. Making your own is not only cheaper, it also makes use of animals parts that would otherwise be discarded.
I try to always buy whole or bone-in chicken, so we get a meal out of the meat and then I just toss the bones/carcass into the freezer until I’m ready to make a batch of broth. I also use veggie scraps instead of whole vegetables (which I’ll talk about in a minute), so my homemade chicken broth is practically free.
While I do purchase beef bones specifically for making broth, they’re still cheaper than it would cost to buy beef broth from the store.
And of course, if you raise your own meat animals, you’d be crazy NOT to make your own stock!
Finally, while you can make your own broth/stock and preserve any excess in the freezer, I prefer to can it so that I have it ready to go in liquid form whenever I need it. I’m just not great with planning ahead and remembering to take things out of the freezer well before I need them, so having canned stock ready to go is a huge help for me in the kitchen.
Just be aware that broth and stock are low acid and therefore MUST be pressure canned for safety reasons. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the recipe below.
* For more information on pressure canning, click here to learn how to use a pressure canner safely.
How to make broth or stock at home
Now that you know WHY you should be making your own bone broth/stock at home, here’s how to actually do it…
First of all, you’ll need to gather your ingredients. The recipe I use is very flexible and doesn’t use set amounts of anything. You can add as much or as little of the suggested ingredients as you like, or you can omit or substitute certain herbs and vegetables too.
The first thing you’ll need is bones or meat. (If making a veggie stock, skip this step!)
If you’re making chicken stock, either start with one whole chicken carcass or a couple handfuls of bones. If using beef bones, I usually get two batches of stock out of roughly 5 lbs. of beef bones.
You can use “fresh” bones (ie. bones that you’ve just picked clean from a meal) or frozen bones. I like to toss all my chicken bones into the freezer in Ziplock bags until I’m ready to use them.
Next, roast the bones. This is a super important step that is crucial for beef broth and will improve the flavour of chicken broth too.
(One time I tried making beef broth without roasting the bones first and it was flavourless and gritty. I ended up tossing the whole batch. While roasting isn’t necessary for chicken stock, it improves the flavour and richness of your broth).
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place bones on a baking tray (no need to thaw, you can do this while they’re still frozen), drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for about 30-40 minutes, until bones and any meat left on them have browned.
Transfer roasted bones to a large stockpot, slow cooker or Instant Pot (cooking instructions for each method follow).
Then, add a handful of chopped vegetables, herbs and spices for flavour. Onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, rosemary, thyme, sage and bay leaves are all popular choices for adding flavour to stock, as well as some peppercorns and a generous pinch of salt.
You can use either fresh or dried herbs for flavour, just remember that dried herbs are more concentrated in flavour than fresh herbs, so use a bit less.
Add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you have some on hand. The ACV helps draw out more nutrients from the bones!
* Take caution if using sage as too much can make your stock taste bitter once canned.
** This recipe also works for vegetable stock too — just omit the bones/meat. **
Frugal kitchen tip…
I save a bunch of my veggie scraps in freezer bags for making stock, which makes this recipe extra frugal! I toss onion and garlic ends and peels, as well as (washed) carrot peels and celery ends in the freezer and then toss in a couple good handfuls with my bones when I’m ready to make stock!
Stovetop/slow cooker method
Cover bones, vegetables, herbs and seasonings with water, cover and bring to a simmer on the stovetop over medium heat, or set your slow cooker to low.
If cooking on the stovetop, reduce heat to low once simmering.
Cook on low for 8 to 12 hours (up to 24 hours).
Strain out the bones, veggies and other solid, reserving the liquid. You may need to strain the liquid twice and/or use a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to filter out any little bits.
Refrigerate bone broth before canning
Instant Pot method
If using an Instant Pot, cover bones, vegetables, herbs and seasonings with water (make sure not to fill past the max. fill line). Place the lid on and make sure the vent knob is closed. Set Instant Pot to high pressure and cook for two hours.
Once time is up, allow Instant Pot to depressurize naturally. Remove lid after about 30 minutes and strain, reserving the liquid.
Refrigerate bone broth before canning
Allow bone broth to cool in the pot or transfer to a container or divide between quart-sized Mason jars. Once cooled, place in the fridge and refrigerate overnight.
It’s important to refrigerate for at least 8-12 hours before canning as any fat will float to the top and harden so you can easily skim it off.
This is especially true for beef stock as this produces a thick layer of beef fat (tallow). For safety reasons, you shouldn’t can fat. Although it’s okay if there are a few tiny pieces of fat floating around still, so long as you remove the majority.
Once cooled in the fridge, remove stock and skim off the fat. At this point you will likely notice that the stock is thick and more like gelatine than liquid. This is a GOOD sign!! The thicker your stock, the more collagen it has. And don’t worry: once you heat it again or can it, it will turn back to liquid form.
How to can homemade broth or stock
Prepare your pressure canner, jars and lids. For more information on how to do this, click here.
Transfer stock to a large, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. Ladle boiling hot stock into prepared jars, leaving one inch headspace at the top.
Wipe jar rims to make sure there is no residue from the stock on the rims as this can prevent a good seal. I recommend using a paper towel or rag dipped in white vinegar as the vinegar will cut through the fat/oiliness of the stock and will ensure there’s no reside left behind.
Place new lids on jars and screw bands down to fingertip tight.
Process pint jars for 30 minutes and quart jars for 35 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure (increase to 15 pounds of pressure if canning at over 1,000 feet above sea level).
- You may come across other bone broth/stock canning recipes that say to process for 20 minutes for pint jars or 25 minutes for quart jars, however this is only safe if you’re using exact amounts of ingredients according to a safe and tested recipe. Since this recipe calls for a handful of this and a handful of that, increase your processing time to 30 minutes for pint jars and 35 minutes for quart jars. This is because vegetables require a longer processing time than meat, so I go by the processing time for vegetable stock rather than meat stock.
Once processing time is up, allow canner to depressurize completely, then remove lid and let jars rest in the canner for another 10 minutes before removing.
Remove jars from canner and let cool completely on a towel on your countertop before storing.
Canned stock should be stored in your pantry out of direct sunlight and should be used within a year (this is an overly cautious precaution for all home-canned foods, however I’ve used home-canned stock that was up to two years old and it’s been fine).
How to store homemade bone broth/stock in the fridge or freezer
If you don’t want to can your stock, it will last in the fridge up to one week.
Alternatively, you can freeze your homemade stock for up to a year (for best quality). If freezing, remember to leave ample headspace at the top of your jar(s) or container to allow for expansion. I like to leave at least two inches of headspace when freezing.
How to use homemade broth/stock
There are so many ways to use your homemade broth or stock. Use it as a base for soups and stews, sauces and gravies, as a basting liquid for braised meats or use in place of water when cooking grains like rice and pasta for added flavour.
You can also heat up a mug or a bowl and sip your homemade broth on its own to benefit from all of the nutrients. This is especially recommended when you’re feeling sick or like you’re coming down with something.
How do you use broth/stock at home?
As always, I’d love to know your favourite ways to use broth or stock at home. Do you have any favourite recipes or ways to use broth/stock that weren’t listed above? If so, let me know in the comments below!
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