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Making Stock (or Bone Broth)

chicken-stock.jpgBone broth or stock is made by simmering meat, bones and vegetables for many hours.  This process extracts minerals from the bones, amino acids like glutamine that are important for gut and brain health and gelatin, which helps with connective tissue.  Bone broth is very good to help heal a damaged intestinal tract in SIBO and Leaky Gut Syndrome. It is also good for building greater immunity and resistance to disease. Because it extracts nutrients from bones and joints, it also supports the health of teeth, bones, joints and connective tissues, which can help people with arthritis, osteoporosis, tooth decay and other structural problems.

Any kind of meat and bones can be used to make stock, beef, lamb, venison, chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish. My personal experience with stock is limited to beef, lamb, chicken and turkey.

Except when baking, I never follow recipes exactly.  I’m the kind of cook who just puts stuff together without exact measurements, which is why it’s hard for me to write recipes for people who need exact instructions. If you want precise recipes, there are excellent ones in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon or just look up “making stock” or “bone broth” on the internet.

Basic Directions

The basic directions are simple.  Put your bones, meat and vegetables into a stock pot or a crock pot. Cover them with pure cold or room temperature water.  Add ½ cupof vinegar per gallon (4 quarts of water) and let this stand for one hour.  

If you’re using a stock pot, turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  If scum forms at the top of the sock, remove it with a spoon. Then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least 8-12 hours. I usually do at least 24 hours and often 48 hours.  You can simmer the bones for up to 72 hours.  You may need to add extra water from time to time.

crock pot.jpgIf you’re using a crock pot, turn the crock pot to high. Mine has a 6-8 hour high cooking time, so I set it for 8 hours (usually overnight).  After that, remove any scum that forms and set the crock pot to the low setting, which has a 10-12 hour cook time.  As with the stock pot, I keep the mixture cooking in the crock pot for at least 12 hours and usually for 24-48.

After simmering the stock, remove the vegetables and bones and then strain the stock to remove the unappetizing bits and pieces.  Let the stock cool. (I do this by putting the pan into which I’ve strained the stock into a sink of cold water (with some ice or ice packs in it). I then put the stock into wide mouth quart jars and refrigerate it.  

After it’s been in the fridge for a while, the fat rises to the top and solidifies and can be skimmed off.  I can then use my stock to make soups, just as you’d use canned or packaged stock.

Chicken Stock

I’ve used a whole chicken for making chicken stock, but I find I get a better stock if I use chicken legs, thighs and wings, as these are bonier parts. The back from a whole chicken is also great for stock.  I look for packages of these chicken parts from organic chickens at the health food store.  They are cheaper than the breast meat.  When available I purchase several packages and freeze them.

chicken legs.jpgI place my chicken parts into the stock pot or crock pot and cover them with cold water and vinegar. Let stand for one hour.  

I then add the following vegetables: One onion, peeled and quartered; several carrots, which I cut into 2-3 inch long pieces; and several stalks of celery, also cut into 2-3 inch long pieces. When available I use the carrots and celery that are getting a little old so they’re a bit wilted and not as crispy.  It’s a great way to use up these less appetizing vegetables.

You then cook the stock as described above, however, with chicken stock, I usually remove the chicken after about 4-6 hours and pull the meat off the bones, then return the bones, skin and scraps back to the pot to simmer for another 12-24 hours.  

Because this chicken has had a lot of the flavor cooked out of it, I either use it to make soup later, or I make chicken spread out of it by adding mayo, onion, my home-made pickle relish and a little seasoning to it.

When the stock is done I strain it as described above and refrigerate it.  I use it to make soups of various sorts. Chicken stock is my favorite for vegetable soups. I love using root vegetables like carrots, onions, parsnips, turnips and rutabagas in these soups.  I typically add salt when making the soup rather than when making the stock. 

Turkey Stock

After the Thanksgiving dinner is over, I remove all the meat off the turkey carcass and put it in a stock pot (doesn’t fit in my crock pot).  I use the same procedure as for chicken stock above (including using the same vegetables), but there is no meat to remove, so I just simmer the stock for about 48 hours.  The turkey stock comes out wonderfully gelatinous and makes a great turkey vegetable soup from the left-over turkey meat.

Beef Stock

I find it harder to get good bones for making beef stock than for making chicken stock, because they’re not something I typically find in the stores I shop at.  I keep my eye out at my favorite grocery store because sometimes they have soup bones available, but not very often. Sometimes I find oxtail, which makes good stock, too.

oxtail.jpgI’ve roasted my oxtail before making stock and I like the flavor of the stock better when I do.  I simply put the bones on a cookie sheet in the oven and roast them at 350 until the meat is at least partially cooked.  However, I’ve also made the stock from non-roasted oxtail.  

Beef stock is made just like chicken stock. Put the bones in the pot, cover with cold water, add vinegar and let sit for an hour. Then add vegetables and simmer.  I usually simmer the beef stock for 48 hours.

My favorite thing to do with beef stock is to use it to make borscht, a Russian soup made with beets and cabbage.  I learned how to make borscht from my Russian ex-wife and I love it. I’ll have to post a recipe for it later.

Lamb Stock

I love lamb. I usually use lamb to make curries and cut the meat off the bones.  I then save the bones to make stock.  It’s made the same way as beef stock.

Thomas Easley's Beef or Chicken Stock

For those who want a more precise recipe, here’s one from Thomas Easley.

Ingredients

2lbs beef or chicken bones (organic grass fed are best, but chicken necks or oxtails can be used also) 3 gal. Cold filtered water 1/2 cup Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon of good sea salt
3 onions, coarsely chopped (optional) 3 carrots coarsely chopped (optional) 3 celery sticks coarsely chopped (optional) Several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together. (optional) 1 tsp. dried green peppercorns, crushed (optional) 1 bunch parsley (optional)

Instructions

Place the bones in a very large stockpot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Add to the stock pot the vegetables. A large amount of scum (looks like bubbles/oil slick) will come to the top and this needs to be skimmed off with a spoon& discarded. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and peppercorns. Simmer for at least 12 hours and up to 72 hours (about 24 works well for me). For the last 10 minutes, add the parsley. A crockpot can also be used to simmer the stock if you are leaving the house for extended periods of time. Remove bones with tongs and discard. Strain the rest of the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top, stock may turn to gelatin when cooled (if knuckles are used), this is normal.