Bone Broth, a basic culinary technique

Making a really good stock is one of those simple sort of skills that a lot of people don’t seem to know to do. It’s an essential way to get the most out of an animal that’s been killed to feed you and yours, and although I’m a piss poor hunter and at best a middling trapper and angler, I stick fairly meticulously to my ethics around how animals are treated, dispatched, and their bodies used.

On top of that, making stock from bones allows us to get a bunch of nutrients we Westerners tend to lack, such as the nutrients in organ meats so many of us don’t eat, glucosamine and collagen from tendons and cartilage, etc.

Maybe I’m misjudging how few people regularly make stock, but just in case here’s the basics of making stock or “bone broth”:

-put bones, cartilage, organ meats, and/or vegetable scraps in a big pot or electric Crock-Pot. I like to save “onion butts” and some of the skins from onions I use in cooking. They add great flavor and GREAT color.

-put in enough water to at least cover the food scraps

-if it’s on the stove, bring to boil then leave on low for a long ass time. If it’s in a slow cooker, just leave it until it’s done. I prefer my stock to go in the Crock-Pot for about two days.

-sometimes a foamy “scum” forms on top; skim it off

-some people will skim out the fat, and usually that’s dumb, but some bones and other parts will make too much fat for certain dishes. Depends on preference and usage. When I’ve made stock with deer bones I often skim off the little bit of fat if it’s from an older deer.

That’s it!

If you did everything correctly (I know you did) you should have some nice, golden stock. I strain mine through a mesh strainer, mostly to save time picking out stuff. If you didn’t have the onion butts in there, it’ll be a lighter color. If you’ve had it going for as long as I do, it’ll also likely get kind of gelatinous when it’s cool.

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  1. This past year I started using a clever to cut through the bones before adding to the pot and it’s made the stock even tastier. 😉

  2. We often do “garbage soup” – we collect all sorts of veg scraps like carrot peels, onion and garlic peels, leek ends, etc… we freeze them until we have a ton and then cook them with mostly chicken carcasses – since we always buy a whole chicken in the rare case we do eat meat. It’s tasty and uses up everything usually thrown away.

  3. How do you know when it’s “done”? What’s the rough time frame to expect?

  4. Do you can the stock or just let the jars seal when cooled? Just found your blog via FB. Great stuff here. I love the social justice piece you include.

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