How to Make Bone Broth in the Crock Pot
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Bone broth has become one of those items I ALWAYS have on hand. It is super simple to make and, like any homemade item, tastes a million times better than store bought. During cold and germ season, I always make sure that I have plenty of bone broth in the freezer. It is the perfect pick-me-up and easy on the stomach. On the really raw days of February in Vermont, a hot mug of bone broth is the best way I warm up.
The Basics of Bone Broth
What’s the difference between bone broth and regular broth? Bone broth has all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that regular ole’ broth seems to lack. Bone broth cooks low and slow over a long period of time. That allows the nutrients to seep out of the bones, joints, and cartilage of whatever animal you have thrown in the pot. It is also much thicker than a broth due to the collagen extracted from the carcass The ingredients can be as simple as bones, water, and a bit of apple cider vinegar.
Step One ~ Gather and Assemble the Ingredients
When I know I’m running low on broth and need to make some more, I will cook a chicken in the crock pot that I have designated for broth making because it’s the biggest. After picking the carcass of whatever meat you want to use, simply throw the bones, skin, and anything else back into the crock pot. I save the ends of onions, celery, and carrots in my freezer for when I make broth. While it certainly isn’t necessary to add these, it does add to the flavor of the broth. The only other items you need are water and some apple cider vinegar (with the mother.) The apple cider vinegar, or any acidic liquid, helps extract minerals from the bones.
Step Two ~ Fill the Crock Pot
After you’ve tossed the bones or carcass into the crock pot, add in any other ingredients you choose. If you don’t have a ton of vegetable scraps saved, roughly chop a carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. Because this gets strained before cooling, you don’t have to worry about onion or garlic skins. Adding a bit of salt and pepper is a personal choice. After those ingredients are added, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Next, fill your crock pot to the maximum level with cold water and turn it on low. I also always add in two teaspoons of turmeric. The bright orange color gives the broth a deep golden hue and turmeric has many healing properties.
Step Three ~ Wait…
Let the bone broth cook in the crock pot anywhere from 24-36 hours. If I plan ahead, I’ll start the broth on a Thursday night because I know Saturday mornings I’m usually free and can take the time to take care of it. Stir the mixture every so often–in the morning, in the afternoon if you can, and in the evening. The house will smell amazing and you’ll be tempted after 12 hours to call it good. Don’t. To extract all the beneficial minerals, vitamins, etc from the bones, it needs to cook low and slow for quite a bit of time.
Step Four ~ Strain
After 24-36 hours, turn your crock pot off and let it cool for an hour. Any longer and you risk bacteria growth. Get a large bowl and a fine mesh strainer and set them in your sink. Wearing oven mitts (because the crock pot is still really hot,) pour the mixture into the strainer. The 8 quart crock pot usually yields 12 cups of broth, so make sure to have a couple large bowls handy.
Step Five ~ Cool and Store
Let the broth cool in the refrigerator, covered, for at least a day. If you’re using a store bought bird, you will likely have a thick layer of fat to skim off the top. When I use the birds we raise, I honestly don’t even skim because there is so little fat on top. Once it’s skimmed, measure it into 1 cup portions in freezer bags and store flat in the freezer. If you’ve got a pressure canner, you can choose to can the broth and save freezer space.