Once again, the summary is at the top!
SUMMARY Get bones from butcher, properly raised animals…bones are cheap! Get feet too! Roast them for 30 minutes if you want, not required. Put bones, carrot, celery, garlic, S&P, onion in the crock. Fill with water. Lid on, low temp, come back in 24 hours. Put broth through a mesh strainer into jars. Leave headroom. Let cool. Freeze. Drink daily. Try to heat on the stove rather than the microwave…you just spent the better part of 30 hours slow-cooking it, better not to nuke all the delicate nutrients!
I welcome my sister’s input on this topic as she has been creating bone broth for longer than I have. I avoided getting involved in bone broth for…..what, 4 years now? Obviously in my travels of the paleo/grain free blogosphere, I’ve read about the many wonderful benefits of bone broth and tried to put it out of my head. For a few reasons. First, I knew that I could not make bone broth with conventionally raised animal bones but I did not want to source properly raised bones. Second, I thought it would be a shittone of work. Third, I didn’t want to only do it for myself (this one I could explain to you but it would take paragraphs). Fourth, I didn’t think I would like it, and finally, I didn’t want to spend an assload of money on mason jars to store it.
So….at a good quality butcher about 5 months ago (first hold up eliminated!), I purchased chicken bones (called a rack), a tray of feet and a tray of gizzards. Threw them in the deep freeze and tried to forget about them. I even tried to give them to my sister but she wouldn’t take them. A little under a month ago, with a weekend totally to myself and a deep freeze full to bursting, I decided to get those bones turned into broth. I texted my sister for her recipe (my modified recipe below) and fired up the crockpot. I wasn’t fully committed to the process yet and so I basically half-assed it and broke 3 carrots in half, broke 3 celery stalks in half, cut an onion in half, poured in some ACV and a handful of coarse salt and peppercorns, tossed a full bunch of whole parsley in and filled the rest of the space with water. Turned it on low and walked away. That was Friday night. By Saturday morning it had turned into The Nectar of The Gods. And….in that first mug, holdups number two and four were blasted. No work whatsoever and delicious! I think that weekend I drank about a litre of it myself….just kept dipping into the crockpot and replacing what I took off with more water.
Now that I had a giant crockpot full of this stuff I had to figure out storage. A little voice in the back of my head reminded me that I’d seen some mason jars way in the back of the garage in a dusty, cobwebby, broken down old box. Ray’s ex-wife used to do a lot of canning and those jars were leftovers from many years gone by. Mine now! Once I knocked the (enormous) spider carcasses out of them and ran them through the dishwasher, I realized I had at least a dozen 1 litre jars and another dozen 500ml jars. I bought some sealer lids for about $10 and the final holdup was gone. Part of the jar issue was also where to store the filled jars so I basically evicted everything old and freezer burned from our fridge freezer and moved the broth in. Easy access to pull a jar every day and easy to see what stock is there.
All that was left was my desire to get Ray on board. For the first week I heated it up in the mornings and took it to work with me, offering to make him some every other day or so. The second week, when I’d acquired pig bones and feet (which Ray was interested in seeing/learning about), I poured him a mug the evening it was done cooking and he’s been a broth hound ever since. I chalk it up to not pestering, to answering questions as they arose and his relative interest in the process. Plus, the house smells so good when it’s cooking! The only thing he did ask me to do for him is to skim the fat until he gets used to that texture and the fact that conventional wisdom is BS. Can do, buddy!
So, want a recipe? SO easy. We like chicken the best but the pork is good also. When the pork bones/feet are all used up next weekend I’ll get some beef bones and a calf’s foot and I will try my hand at a beef broth.
My crockpot is huge, adjust your bones/veg accordingly.
For every batch I use:
3# bones, feet, gizzards, skin, tendons etc, roasted 30 minutes at 400F first if you want
3-4 smashed garlic cloves
1-2 yellow onions depending on their size (no onion peel, makes broth bitter!)
3 bay leaves (from my bay plant)
a palmful of coarse salt
a palmful of peppercorns
about ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 head of fennel (use the top green part) or dried fennel seeds
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
About 2 tbsp each dried thyme leaves (not powder) and dried rosemary leaves in the chicken one. A sprinkle of sage if you have it
A bunch of parsley (I don’t use parsley anymore, I don’t like the aroma it gives the broth, but most recipes will call for it)
My sister uses a dried chile and I know recipes call for star anise which I don’t have but want to get
I run the crockpot on Low for around 26-30 hours before straining and jarring. With the pork bones I bottled about half after 20 hours and then replaced what I drew off with more water and cooked another 12 hours. If I’d had time that weekend I would have let the second incarnation go for longer because it seemed to be getting even richer in the second round. My sister does a remouillage (a weak stock made by re-simmering bones that have already been used to make stock once) after she’s done jarring the main brew and then she uses that in place of/in addition to water in the next week’s simmer. I don’t do that but I can understand why it would be preferable!
My broth never gels. I’m not too concerned with that since we also take a gelatin supplement every day. I suspect I’m not using enough bones/feet for the size of my crockpot since I get an “almost” gel every time, but the flavour I get is good and the bones are basically paste when I’m done so as far as I care, I’m getting maximum nutrition from them. We have our broth in the evenings, around 8pm as a nice wind down for the day. I like going to bed with a broth tummy and whether it has anything to do with it or not, I have been sleeping great. As much as I don’t want to wish my life away, I’m looking forward to broth in the winter and I think we’ll go through more of it after walks and outings in the cold….which is good because winter = cold/flu season and broth = nature’s elixir.
I usually let the jars sit out until they have cooled and are only warm to the touch, then I cap and freeze (leave an inch of headspace at least to prevent explosions). Food-safety wise, I should probably cool in the fridge before freezing…but I don’t have room so I don’t worry about it. I always refrigerate one jar which is the next day’s dose….mainly to see if it gelled or not. Usually “not” or “barely”.
That’s it. Bones, crock, time, jars.