I think we all need to loosen up about bone broth! I mention bone broth to my patients in the clinic, and more often than not, I would be on the receiving end of a bit of eye-rolling and the typical response of “I don’t have time for that”! With a little convincing, I would get them to give it a try following my simple guidelines, and for most, there was no looking back.
Be warned, this is not a conventional recipe. You will have to use your own smarts and tap into your intuition to master the art of bone broth. All you need is a slow cooker (crock pot) and these basic guidelines, and you should make nutritious bone broths with very little effort in no time.
1. Choose your beast
Choose free-range, grass-fed or organic beasts where possible. Bones left over from a meal are fine; meaty bones add extra nutrition. If you do not have enough bones for a whole pot, freeze them until you do. You need enough bones to fill your slow cooker between a quarter and a third with bones.
- For hoofed animals, try to include a trotter, knuckles and bones with exposed marrow. Browning the bones in a pan beforehand will give a deeper flavour to the broth.
- Chicken – you can use the whole carcass, including the feet, if possible.
- Fish – pop everything in. Heads with eyes, bone and fins etc.
What is in my pot in the photo above?
A local chicken carcass with a few garden veggies – a couple of carrots, bay leaves, parsley including the stalks, celery with leaves and overgrown spring onion!
2. Fossick in the garden & fridge
At the very least, you need to add an onion or two and a few bay leaves. You can also throw in a handful of veggies and herbs – leeks, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, vegetable cuttings … whatever is fresh, seasonal and takes your fancy.
Be careful with spices as the long cooking time can make them taste very strong in the broth. Star anise is one spice that works well, especially if you use the broth for Pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). Do not season your bone broth with salt; save this for when you use the broth later in your cooking.
3. A slurp of apple cider vinegar
Add a slurp of vinegar to the pot. I would equate this to a generous tablespoon for those who are pedantic. You need vinegar to help release important nutrients from the bones, such as minerals, collagen and amino acids such as glutamine.
4. Give it time
Top the slow cooker with filtered/spring/rain water, turn it onto low, walk away and let cook for 12 – 24 hours. Beef and lamb bones you can cook for up to 48 hours!
On completion strain, the stock into containers, pop what you will use in the next few days into the fridge and store any leftover in the freezer.
As time goes on, you will develop more confidence with your broth and have your favourite vegetables, herbs and spices that you like to throw in with different types of bones. Just remember that fish and fowl bones have a lighter flavour, so you will need to keep the flavour of the other broth ingredients light, too.
Once you have mastered the art of bone broth, you will have a constant supply of soups, stews, risottos, braising … wherever in your cooking you need stock. A cup of bone broth a day is also recommended – just warm and then season with a pinch of natural salt, a twist of pepper and chopped fresh herb.
Experiment, have fun and enjoy your no-stress bone broth!