Bone broth is more than just a health fad and learning how to make it from scratch can take your cooking to another level.
Bone broth, stock, and broth. They are all very similar and while the terms can be used interchangeably in the kitchen, there really are differences between them. Knowing what makes them different and how to make them in a home kitchen can greatly improve the quality of your cooking.
Bone broth: Is all the rage right now. It often pops up in my news feeds as the current health trend. Truth is that cooks have been using it in their kitchens for centuries. What makes bone broth trendy is that it’s loaded with healthy minerals. It’s like the meat-eater’s response to juicing.
What sets bone broth apart is that it must be cooked at least 24 hours. During this time, the minerals and gelatin from the bones gets cooked out. Typically you would use roasted beef bones as the base, but chicken necks or feet provide a lot of gelatin as well. The result is a deep flavor and a dark colored broth that resembles jello when chilled.
Stock: Stock is similar to bone broth in that it involves cooking bones for flavor, but you can also add meat for further flavor extraction. In my experience stock is usually dedicated to one type of flavor. eg: chicken stock, lamb stock, fish stock, or beef stock. The cooking time for stock is much shorter. Only 4 – 6 hours should be enough to draw out the flavors of the meat and bones.
Broth: Broth is different in that you can make it 1 – 3 hours and doesn’t require bones to produce results. Broth is the only one that can be made with vegetables alone. The end result tends to be thinner than a stock, but still provide a great flavor boost.
Bone broth, stock, and broth are all similar in that they don’t require a lot of attention or active cooking time to see results. I’ve found that for the home cook, the most effective way of making bone broth, stock or broth is to use your slow cooker. I’ve been guilty of starting a “stock” and turning it into a “bone broth” because I was too tired to strain it and cool it properly when the time went off. You will need a 5 quart or larger slow cooker for this recipe.
The “recipe” for bone broth is completely flexible based on what ingredients you have to hand and what your tastebuds prefer. My go to vegetables are carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns (even if they aren’t really a vegetable). You can adjust these based on your personal preferences, adding in things like leeks, tomatoes, or broccoli stalks. I would avoid potatoes and other starchy vegetables, as they tend to result in a very cloudy liquid.
As I go through my daily meal prep, I bag items that I would normally discard and freeze them in a zip top bag. When trimming up vegetables, the ends go into the freezer bag. If I have stock vegetables that are only going to be good for another day, with no plans to use it, it goes in the freezer bag. Rinds from hard cheeses, bones from rotisserie chickens or any bone-in meat that I might serve for dinner, into the freezer bag. Basically, if it can be used for broth instead of tossed, it goes into the freezer bag. I tend to separate out ingredients by meat type, with a single bag for all veggies and cheese rinds. This allows me to decide later if I’m going to make beef, chicken, or shrimp bone broth, or if I want to make one that is a blend.
Your veggies don’t have to be chopped up, but cutting them into at least a few pieces helps enhance the flavor. If you are looking to hone your knife skills, practicing on stock veggies is a great time to do it. Practice makes perfect and no one has to eat these vegetables if they are unevenly sliced or cooked.
The directions are fairly basic: roast the bones (and the veggies if you like), place everything in the slow cooker (bones, meat, vegetables, herbs, peppercorns & vinegar), cover with water, bring to a boil on high and simmer on low. The vinegar is there to help balance the flavor. You can also use lemon juice if you prefer. By not salting your bone broth when you make it, you have more control over the final dish.
Using the slow cooker means that less is lost to evaporation. I find that I don’t have to add additional water to my bone broth when using the slow cooker. On the stovetop topping it up with water every hour or so ensures that it won’t boil dry.
While the broth is still hot, carefully remove the larger chunks using tongs before straining out the rest of the liquid. I suggest using a larger strainer for the first round, to catch the majority of the solids. I then run it through a fine mesh sieve twice. Once through the sieve directly and once through the sieve lined with a single ply paper towel or a coffee filter. The amount that you strain it really depends on how clear you want the broth. Once it’s strained and allowed to cool a layer of fat will solidify on the top. Carefully use a slotted spoon to skim the fat off and discard it.
Bone broth can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for 3 – 5 days or frozen for longer storage. The longer the broth was allowed to cook, the more likely the broth will turn gelatinous when stored in the fridge. You can use muffin tins or ice cube trays to freeze smaller portions, which can then be placed in freezer bags for up to 6 months.
Have you ever tried making homemade bone broth? Have you tried drinking bone broth for your health? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to YUM or PIN this recipe for later!
Slow Cooker Bone Broth
Slow Cooker Cooking Stock
- 4 lbs of bones
- 1 onion
- 1 head of garlic
- 3 - 4 celery stalks
- 3 large carrots
- 1/2 a bunch of parsley
- 1 TBSP peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 TBSP vinegar
- Roast the bones in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes.
- Roughly chop onion, celery, and carrots. Slice the garlic head in half crosswise to expose all of the cloves and gently separate.
- Place all ingredients into a 5 quart slow cooker and fill with enough water to cover the veggies.
- Cover and set the slow cooker to low for 24 hours.
- Allow to simmer while covered.
- Using tongs, carefully remove the larger chunks and discard.
- Strain the remaining liquid three times. Once through a colander, then through a fine mesh sieve, then through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter or single ply paper towel.
- Bone broth can be stored in the fridge for 3 - 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.