In an effort to improve my mothers health I send homemade broth in her lunch each day. She loves it but at first there were some issues to work out. Liquid broth is a little tricky to transport. I tried a bunch of different methods until at last I stumbled across a recipe for homemade bouillon.
It seemed ideal and I tried it soon after. It worked beautifully. I made lovely little broth cubes. Only drawback was if I dried them out enough that they didn’t mold they would take a long time and lots of stirring to reconstitute again. Freezing them worked better.
That worked for awhile but then I read about how most commercial gelatin contains large amounts of MSG. Which my mom and I were trying to avoid. I could have just bought some of the really good MSG free stuff on Amazon but I’m really cheep sometimes and after reading that gelatin is made from leftover animal parts I wondered if since I make a mix of bone and meat broth, my broth might already have had enough gelatin in it to make bouillon. Turns out it did.
Its more economical to just use what I have on hand so over the last few years my recipe has evolved.
Step one: Make broth.
For bouillon I use whatever bones and meat scraps I have on hand and only make bouillon with the first boil. Subsequent boilings don’t have enough gelatin to thicken properly. Its important to have joints, so a whole chicken carcass will work, but beef bones with no connective tissue wont. If I have bones but no connective tissue I will throw in some chicken feet or a pigs foot. I’m lucky enough that the grocery store at the foot of the hill sells them. Remember that chicken feet need the first boil water to be thrown off. The first water has some icky scum that doesn’t taste good so its important to do that before adding feet to broth. I don’t add any vegetable scraps, they add flavor but don’t help with gelling so I leave them for later boils.
Boiling is a misnomer really, its more of a simmer. All of the recipe books say you don’t want the liquid to actually bubble but I find that without the bubbling the bones and meat burn to the bottom of the pot and if it doesn’t burn, the liquid tastes bland. I keep it at a low simmer. When making broth for bouillon I try and simmer the liquid for an hour maybe two. The gelatin is delicate and its going to need to simmer longer in the second step. An hour gets quite a bit of flavor out of fresh meat and bones. So I boil up 6 to 8 quarts of fresh broth, strain it, and cool it so I can remove any fat from the top. Sometimes I skip the fat removal step because I freeze the bouillon cubes so the fat won’t go bad, but my mom seems to like the taste better when the fat is removed before simmering it down.
Step two: Simmer it down.
I used to boil the broth down using high heat (its faster) but I found that the cubes have a better consistency if the broth is simmered down. Simmering slowly also helps keep steam from building up on every available surface near your stove. It can take anywhere from two hours to four depending on how dry the air is, in your house. In a cold snap it takes a very short time indeed. I try and get the resulting liquid down to one cup.
Step three: Cool it down and cut it into squares.
Strain it out and pour it into a 4×4 inch square baking dish. Cool completely in the fridge. Cut it into 16 one inch cubes. Place the squares onto a plate.
Step four: Freeze.
Put the plate in the freezer for at least one hour or overnight. Then transfer to a container for long term storage.
To reconstitute, use two cubes for one cup of hot water.