Making Bone Broth

I began making bone broth several years ago when I learned about it’s healing qualities for teeth, bones and the gut.  I wanted an easy method that didn’t required me to stay in the kitchen tending a stock pot for 2-3 days. When I talk about bone broth I often hear that people don’t feel they have time to make it. I think it’s important for us to remember that in this modern time we have we have access to the most modern kitchens and tools ever which makes preparing the foods of our ancestors easier than it’s ever been.

I’m going to show you how you can make bone broth with very little time invested.

Enter…….The crock pot!

 

This is what I have been using to make bone broth for quite a while now.  All you really need to make bone broth or as others call it “soup stock” are:

  • Crock pot
  • poultry or meat bones: feet, gizzards, legs, wings, entire chicken etc
  • onion
  • garlic
  • celery
  • lemon juice or vinegar
  • carrot
  • filtered or fluoride free water (you don’t want fluoride in your bone broth because it blocks absorption of minerals)

I generally take the left over bones from dinner and use those. Since buying organic birds or meat is very expensive but worth it, I save the bones, skins, etc that no one wants to eat and toss them into my crock pot.

Then I add in some chopped onions (or the scraps of an onion), a few pieces of celery or celery leaf, and a chopped up carrot. I’ve been known to toss in some juicer pulp instead of the carrots. Basically I use what we have on hand or what I have saved from a past meal I prepared.

Fill your crock pot with the spring water or if you have clean well water. I prefer to avoid tap water that has fluoride since that blocks the absorption of minerals to your bones. Once full, add in a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice.

The purpose of that is to create some acidity to help the minerals leach out of the bones.

Now let it a sit for 30 minutes.

After that, turn the crock pot on high.  Go about your normal routine for the next 6-12 hours. Then check on the broth and skim any scum that forms off the top. You can reduce the crock pot to low.  Let it continue to simmer for another 24-48 hours.

Skimming any scum and add a bit more water if it has lost some liquid. We keep the lid all the time and this helps keep the liquid from boiling away or anything falling into your broth.

After 48 hours, I usually turn off the crock pot and let it sit until the liquid has cooled down enough that I can safely strain it.

You will need a large stock pot and a colander.  Set your colander into the stock pot and start to slowly pour the broth mixture from the crock into the stock pot. The strainer will catch-all the bits you don’t want.

Once you have strained, you can remove any meat that may have come off the bones that you want to save for soups etc.

Now if you are super frugal and are into Nourishing Traditions and you can take the bones and break them apart to remove some of the marrow. The bones should be very soft and break in your hands at this point. The rich meaty marrow is very nutritious and hides well in soups or other dishes like meatballs or meatloaf. You won’t even know you’re eating it. I took me a while to get used to doing this but the family has not detected the hidden marrow in food!

Nourishing Broth

After straining I take the stock pot of broth and put in the fridge over night. The following morning you can scrape off the fat that has congealed on the top. Do not remove the gelatin which is wiggly and clear, unlike the fat which is white. The gelatin is the magic, you want that to stay in the broth. It liquefies again anyway when you heat up the broth.

I use a canning funnel to pour the broth into glass jars with lids and store it in the fridge. I use it for making soups, boiling vegetables or pasta, etc., that week. It helps enhance and sneak in amazing nutrition into our diets and the kids don’t know!  It can also be frozen in food storage bags, just be sure the broth is cold when you put in the bags to freeze it. It can also be canned for long term storage using a pressure canner in order to insure safety and prevent spoilage.

We have done this with our Thanksgiving turkey carcass after removing as much meat as we can. It makes wonderful turkey broth for soups or gravy. Save those chicken drums, roaster chicken bone….etc…..

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Cabbage, Salt and you’re making what?

sauerkraut1Twenty four days ago I told my husband I was going to make sauerkraut and he was like…WHY? It’s horrible, why would anyone want to eat that?, he said. I told him to hear me out, because certainly I understood that he’d had it before as a child and he didn’t like it but really I had a good reason for making it.  He’s used to me and my “projects” at this point and knows I’m always up to cooking or learning how to make something that’s uber healthy and likely not on his repertoire of likings. Since he loves me, he humors me and lets me get to it.

I did some research first on raw fermented sauerkraut and learned it’s not that easy or affordable to just buy it. Most of the store-bought stuff is actually made with vinegar and likely pasteurized when canned in jars. Definitely didn’t see a point in eating that since I’m not a huge cabbage fan to begin with. If I were going to resolve myself to eating sauerkraut my primary purpose was that it be full of gut healing probiotics.

So I set about to finding a method that was reliable, safe and didn’t cost a fortune to try. I found the Fido Jars from Italy which tested pretty well according to a Nourishing Traditions article on various methods of fermenting. I actually happen to have some crunchy farm lady friends who grow a lot of their own food and keep chickens. (I’d like to be one some day) One of them couldn’t wait to give me a head of cabbage because she didn’t know what she was going to do with it all anyway.

So that part was easy. I had read some  blogs and watched some Tube videos on making sauerkraut and frankly it didn’t seem that difficult in comparison to a lot of other things I’ve made. So….why not?

I learned that one teaspoon of raw fermented sauerkraut has as many probiotics in it as an entire bottle of store-bought probiotics. So why was I wasting money on those? All I needed was cabbage, salt and fermenting jars. Done.

Here is how I made it:

  • Wash head of cabbage and remove outer damaged leaves
  • Cut cabbage into quarters, remove the center stem/stalk
  • Shred the cabbage in a food processor
  • Put the shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle sea salt over it.
  • Kneed the cabbage and salt together with your hands then use a wooden mallet to mash and crunch it together-the goal is to get it to release its liquids. You may need to let it set for 10 minutes or so to achieve this
  • Load the juicy shredded salted cabbage into clean/sterilized Fido jars but leave some head space room.
  • You want to press the cabbage down into the jars hard so that the liquid comes out and covers the cabbage. Some people use jar weights or a shot glass with salt brine inside to weight down the cabbage. I only did this with one jar. The other I relied on sheer pent up anger to mash it into the jar tightly!
  • Make sure there are no loose cabbage pieces on the jar lid/seal or above the salt brine level. Then close the jar.
  • Label it with the date and contents and set it in a warm location for up to 23 days.

In several days you will begin to notice bubbling inside the jar and this means it’s working. I kept my Fido jars on top of a plastic tray on the counter because they may leak a bit of liquid out of the top when the gasses escape. This is perfectly fine. You should check on the jars periodically to make sure there is still enough liquid in the jar to cover the cabbage. You can add a bit more salt brine if there isn’t. I didn’t have to do this with mine but some say you might need too.

I waited 23 days and then opened it and used my nose to test it for safety. I did not see any scum, mold or other things that some blogs report when fermenting which means I did it properly. The sauerkraut smelled like, well sauerkraut but it did not smell foul. If it has a terrible odor that doesn’t resemble rotten cabbage, something probably went wrong.After this fermentation period you store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator. It can be kept there for several months.

Now bear in mind I didn’t have this growing up and it wasn’t part of our diet. In fact the only sauerkraut I’d ever tried was from a store and it wasn’t good. So I had hoped that this version would be better.

I took a leap and tasted it. It was tart, crunchy and I liked it more than I thought I would. I can’t say what it will do for my gut just yet of course, but I’m going to try it and see.

I now have two large jars of sauerkraut in the refrigerator that will last me a while at a few teaspoons per day.  Now if only I can convince the kids and hubby to eat some too!