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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Bone Broth 101, My Method!

You will notice that I refer to Bone Broth in a lot of my recipes.  Just what is bone broth, you ask? Can’t you just substitute a store bought tetra pack of chicken or beef broth, you ask? What about those fancy little foil wrapped cubes? If you are a purist like me, the answer is unequivocally no!! Even in the best organic boxes of “stock” you will find undesirable ingredients. (I am still trying to figure out why they need to add “natural beef flavour” and “caramel colour” to something so simple, and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the additives I have read on labels!) Not to mention, homemade broth just tastes better. Homemade chicken bone broth is the go to remedy in our house when anyone is feeling a little under the weather.  And it really is not hard to make. I have made my own broth for years, although the way I make it has changed in the last few years. I do still keep baggies in my freezer for the leftover poultry bones, and organic veggie peelings and trimmings (garlic, onion, celery, carrot etc.), When the baggies are full, I toss them in the crockpot. Because, hey, the only thing better than making your own nourishing broth is making it for FREE, out of what would normally be tossed in the trash!  (I should mention here, when we shop at Fenwood Farms, they offer a bag of chicken stock bones for free with every purchase) I usually buy my beef soup bones at Oakridge Acres, one package usually costs me around 3$. Two packages usually net me about 12 cups of bone broth.

Now that beef is back in our diet, beef bone broth has become a favourite of mine. I use it in soups, stews, for de-glazing pans, as a nourishing hot beverage, etc.  The process, however, changed after reading Nourishing Traditions. Bone broth contains an amazing amount of trace minerals, calcium and magnesium just to name a few. (read more about the many awesome benefits HERE) Like I said, I am a purist though, and prefer to keep my stock simple, using just the grass fed beef soup bones, and not the vegetables like some use. Completely a matter of choice though! (I do sometimes add the veggies to my chicken broth, but it does change the flavour) To make chicken bone broth, simply substitute chicken bones for the beef bones, the method is essentially the same.

My Method:

For this you will need a large slow cooker, and depending on the size, a package or two of beef soup bones and some raw organic apple cider vinegar (this helps release the nutrients from the bones). I usually try and have my large crock pot about half full of bones.
  • Place bones into crock pot 
  • Top up your crock pot with water  
  • Add a few TBSP of a raw organic apple cider vinegar 
  • Turn on to low, cover and leave it for at least 24 hours (up to 30 ish max)
  • At the 8 or 9 hour mark, if the bones are particularly meaty, I will pull them out, remove the meaty parts, and throw the bones back into the crock pot to continue cooking. This meat can then be used as part of another meal, making the broth even more frugal 
  • At the end of the cooking time, remove the larger bones, and strain the broth thru a fine mesh strainer to remove any small bone fragments  
  • Chill the stock until it gels and the fat solidifies  
  • Remove the fat layer from the top  
  • Use the broth either right away, or freeze in your choice of serving sizes. I like freezing about 2 cups in the medium plastic freezer bags, I label them with a magic marker so I can tell which kind of stock it is. You can use mason jars**, empty yogurt containers, or whatever you wish that will freeze well.  (**if using mason jars be sure to leave room in your jar, as the broth will expand when freezing, and can potentially break the jar)
I like to keep a good supply of bone broth on hand in the freezer, so it is always ready when you need it. 

Ready to go!
After 24 hours
Strain before cooling
Meat pulled off after
8 hrs cooking
skim the fat before freezing
pour cooled broth into baggies
to freeze.

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