A few years ago, Steph and I were talking as we were making soup with store bought bouillon cubes. She asked me if I knew what bouillon was first used for and when I expressed ignorance, she told me it was used to make soup in a world without refrigeration. It allowed them to make soups when the ingredients would normally be out of season and unavailable. When I heard this I exclaimed “YOU CAN MAKE BOUILLON CUBES? We should do that!”
We have since learned that modern bouillon is used for many different functions including quick and easy meals while out backpacking. Now, that’s something to consider! The next time you’re going hiking… you could be eating gourmet foods while out on the trail, and that will certainly change your outdoors experience!
This February we decided to act on this desire and see what it takes to make bouillon. We read several blogs on how to make bouillon including the one we based our recipe upon, The Nourished Kitchen. From all of the reading we learned that bone broth is an essential part of making homemade bouillon. The gelatin that comes out of bones is what binds the bouillon together and the nutrients in bones come out in the the slow cooking process providing great benefits to the consumer. In fact, many of the blogs we read posited the idea that chicken soup became a cultural icon of getting healthy when sick due to all the nutrients that came from the bone broth base. In today’s preparations of chicken soup bone broth is no longer used so chicken soup has lost many of the benefits that made it famous for healing the sick.
The basic process for making bouillon from scratch involves simmering the bones of your chosen animal for 24-72 hours, straining it, refrigerating over night, removing the fat, and then boiling it down again until it becomes jelly like. The length of time for simmering the bones depends on the kind of bones you use. Poultry bones, which are hollow, will take less time than mammal bones. The longer you simmer them the more nutrients will be pulled out of them. One blogger wrote that she simmers her chicken bones for 48 hours, and when she’s done the bones are so brittle you can eat them.
- 5 pounds meaty bones, (chicken, beef, lamb, pork, etc.)
- 1 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoons unrefined sea salt
- Some recipes call for adding gelatin, this is something to consider if you’re using poultry bones as they have far less gelatin in the hollow bones.
- If using mammal bones, Lay bones in 9×13 baking pan and roast at 425 F for 45 minutes. Poultry bones do not need this step.
- Transfer bones to stock pot. Add peppercorns and bay leaves. Cover with filtered or distilled water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, reduce to medium low and simmer uncovered for 8-72. (Beef bones should be simmered for 8-72 hours and Chicken bones from 6-24 hours)
- Strain the stock into a large mixing bowl through cheese cloth. Refrigerate in mixing bowl overnight.
- The fat will rise to the top and gel in the refrigerator. Remove and reserve the fat for use in frying vegetables or braising meat. The fat should keep for a few months if kept refrigerated.
- Pour the fat free stock into a shallow pot, stir in salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until about 1 cup remains. The size of your pot will cause the reduction time to vary, but typically it’s around 45 minutes.
- Pour into a small container and refrigerate overnight, cut into cubes about 1-inch square.
- Each cube produces one cup of stock. Simply drop the cube into one cup hot water and stir. Store in an airtight container. Bouillon will keep at room temperature for six months and often up to a year in the refrigerator.