Friday, August 23, 2013

Making and Preserving Homemade Chicken Broth

Note: People often use the terms stock and broth interchangeably. Essentially, they are the same thing - water flavored with bones, meat, and vegetables. The main difference is that broth is seasoned and stock is not. I like to flavor before preserving, therefore what I make is a broth, but if you were to leave out the flavoring, you could have a bland stock to season as needed with your recipes.

As I am reaching the height of my canning season, I am working on a series of posts about food preservation. I think the best place to start is with homemade stock.

Do you ever wonder what to do with the carcass after you roast a whole chicken? Making a bone stock or broth out of it is easy and saves you a ton of money. Throughout history bone broths have been known to have healing effects: mitigating cold symptoms, helping with inflammation, relieving digestive issues, and just giving us a sense of comfort when we're under the weather.

The most common brands of broth, like Swanson, are misleading in their advertising.  Many brands contain MSG, a neurotoxin, so Swanson wants us to know theirs is healthier and makes sure to label it as "all-natural" and "MSG-free".  The problem is that Swanson chicken broth contains yeast extract, which means the broth does in fact contain MSG.  It's a labeling trick that is dishonest.  To learn more about MSG and yeast extract, read this.

Buying a good, organic bone broth in the grocery store is difficult, not only because they are often seasoned with items you don't want, but they are pretty expensive.  Take Pacific Foods Free Range Organic Chicken Broth, which contains organic chicken broth (filtered water, organic chicken), organic chicken flavor, (organic chicken flavor, sea salt), natural chicken flavor (chicken stock, salt), organic evaporated cane juice, organic onion powder, turmeric, and organic flavor.  I don't know about you, but I have no idea what "organic flavor" is and I prefer that there isn't hidden sugar in my broth. Besides, for $4.00 per 32 ounces, I would at least like to see some veggies in the broth.

Instead of spending so much on nutritionally inferior broth, why not make your own out of something that costs you nothing extra, as you intend to throw the carcass in the garbage anyways?

All the equipment you need to make your own broth is a large stock pot, something to strain it with (like cheesecloth), and eight quart-size canning jars/lids.  I use my Cuisinart 12 Quart Pasta Pot because it allows me to throw all of my ingredients in the pasta insert and once the broth is done simmering I can pull the solids out without having to strain the broth through anything.

If you don't have a pasta insert, just throw your carcass, veggies, herbs, and seasonings straight into your stockpot and strain it when it is done.

Remember not to use a stock pot coated with Teflon or other non-stick coatings and additives.  It makes little sense to worry about your food additives while cooking with pots that contain carcinogens. 

8 quarts filtered water
1 organic, free-range chicken carcass
3-4 organic carrots
3 organic green onions
2 cloves organic garlic
10-15 whole peppercorns
2 T sea salt

I do not add herbs now, because I prefer to add them directly to whatever food I am using the broth as a base for, but you could add some now if you want to - bay leaves or rosemary would be nice.

Bring the water to a boil and then let it simmer on the stove for about four hours.  If you have your solids directly in a stock pot you're going to want to stir it every now and then to make sure the veggies aren't sticking to the bottom.  If you're using the pasta insert it is not necessary.

After four hours you have a delicious broth that you can either preserve by freezing or canning, or put directly in the fridge, where it will last for about one week.  Freezing is a great option if you have the space for it, however, I prefer canning my broth so I don't waste precious space in my deep-freezer.


To preserve your broth you are going to need a pressure canner.  I have a Presto 16 Quart canner and it is easy to use, although quite intimidating the first time.  If you've never used a pressure canner you may want to invite someone over to help you initially, as it is very different than using a water bath canner.

My canner fits 7 quart-size jars, and since I prepare 8 quarts of broth at once (1 inch of headspace), I leave one in the fridge for immediate use.  The rest go into the canner for 25 minutes at 10 psi.

And there you have it - 8 quarts of delicious homemade broth to use as a base in your soups and other meals.  Not only is it nutritionally superior to what you can buy in the store, but it saves you about $32 if you were buying the same quantity of organic broth there.

In case you're wondering, you CANNOT preserve broth with a water bath canner.  It is a low-acid food, which needs to reach 240 degrees for a specific period of time in order to kill the bacteria that would spoil it.  A water bath canner cannot reach that temperature.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homemade Toothpaste

My husband and I went fluoride-free about six years ago when we started to learn about the potential dangers of ingesting it and the role it could have been playing in the flares of my Crohn's Disease.  We bought a reverse osmosis filtration system for our drinking water to eliminate all fluoride and began trying out different brands of fluoride-free toothpaste.  

I've tried countless different brands of toothpaste over the years and have enjoyed the flavors of some and the results of many, but the prices have been pretty outrageous.  Then when we started having children and needed to find a toothpaste that was safe for little ones to swallow we became even more frustrated. Not only were the fluoride-free toothpastes marketed to children overpriced, but they tasted terrible.  No wonder my children were protesting having their teeth brushed, because I nearly gagged the first time I tried their BabyGanics toothpaste!  It was like rubbing my teeth with a glob of artificially-sweetened strawberry goo.

If you do a search online for homemade toothpaste you'll find a million different recipes.  Different people like different tastes and formulas.  When I began putting together my recipe I knew I wanted every ingredient to be something I would actually eat (which meant no xylitol or glycerin) and something that would remineralise my mouth.

Our teeth are very porous and as we age, those pores become bigger from a loss of minerals, causing an increased risk of tooth decay.  It isn't that a poor diet high in sugar itself causes cavities, it's that the poor diet, low in vitamins and minerals and high in sugar, causes a loss of minerals and thus an increased risk of cavities.  Dr. Weston A. Price did a lot of research on this topic if you're ever interested in reading more about it.  Putting minerals into our mouths through our toothpaste is an important part of dental hygiene.

As I mentioned, there are a million different homemade toothpaste recipes out there.  This is what works for me.

1/4 cup Calcium & Magnesium pills crushed - for remineralisation

1/4 cup coconut oil - it's antimicrobial/antiseptic

2 T. baking soda - it's an abrasive that also neutralizes stains and odors

2 T. honey - helps preserve the toothpaste and gives it a good taste

1 T. filtered water - helps with texture

40-50 drops of essential oil - for flavor; I use peppermint

It's extremely simple to make.  I use my little bullet blender and throw in the pills with the coconut oil.  Once the pills are crushed a bit I add everything but the essential oils (you don't want your oils to get too hot) and then let it blend until it is a smooth paste.  After that is done I add my oil and do a quick mix.  When you're done you have something that looks like grey puddy.

The texture is not so thick that you couldn't put it in a hand-pump or some type of tube for easy application, however, I prefer to just scoop it into a half-pint canning jar and dip my toothbrush straight into it.  If you're a little more worried about germs, you might want to consider something else.

You don't have to worry about your toothpaste going bad.  The honey and coconut oil will help to prevent bacteria and if you only make the half-pint it will be gone quickly anyways.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

LOTW - Arsenic in Chicken

Here is the link of the week: FDA Finally Admits Chicken Meat Contains Cancer-Causing Arsenic


Highlights of the article:


Arsenic has been added to chicken feed for the last sixty years and the poultry industry and FDA have said it does not end up in the meat.


The FDA is claiming that the levels of arsenic are too low to cause any harm, even though the chicken feed (manufactured by a subsidiary of Pfizer, of course) has now been pulled off the market in the United States. 


The poultry industry and FDA have known for years that chicken feces contains this arsenic.  That feces (chicken litter) is fed to cows that are factory raised, which of course contaminates the beef as well.


If you thought you needed yet another reason to avoid the meat sold in your supermarket, you now have it.  Buy locally-raised, pastured meat!