Bone broth is the simplest of preparations and yields such delicious and nutritious results. It requires no fancy ingredients and doesn’t demand constant attention. Given enough time and heat, the bones break down, releasing all of their gelatin and minerals into the liquid. The resulting bone broth is rich in protein, gelatin, and minerals and adds a beautiful color and flavor to any dish. Best of all, you can create this amazing broth using leftovers that would normally be discarded.
Until a few years ago, I had never made my own bone broth. I had created my own stock and quick broth with good success, but didn’t fully understand the difference between the three kitchen staples and therefore didn’t realize that I could create something with more flavor and nutrition without creating any extra work for myself in the kitchen.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try your hand at making bone broth. A whole turkey can produce enough bones to make several batches of bone broth. When the turkey has been carved and only the carcass remains from your Thanksgiving feast, the process of making the first batch of bone broth in your slow cooker can begin. The bone broth that results will be full of healthy calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, collagen, and a host of other nutritious minerals.
The process of making bone broth is simple. Reserve all that is left from the carcass of your turkey and any vegetables in the roasting pan. I like to place our turkey on a bed of carrots, onions, and parsnips rather than using a metal rack. These vegetables prevent the turkey from sticking to the pan as it roasts and also flavor the pan juices. After roasting the turkey, these vegetables can be scraped from the roasting pan and added to the slow cooker. They will add flavor and color to the finished bone broth.
When the meal is finished, transfer the roasting pan’s vegetables to the ceramic insert of a large slow cooker. Add approximately a third of the bones from a whole turkey and enough water to completely cover the bones and vegetables. Add two Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and allow the ingredients to rest for an hour. The vinegar helps to extract the calcium from the bones, making a richer and more nutritious bone broth.
Transfer the remaining bones to a freezer bag. Those bones can be frozen for later use. When making bone broth using frozen bones, allow the bones to come to room temperature before proceeding with the cooking process.
After the bones have spent an hour in the water and vinegar, turn your slow cooker on at high heat. Once the liquid has come to a boil, you can reduce the heat to low. The liquid should remain at a simmer as the broth cooks. Leave the lid securely on the pot to reduce the amount of liquid that evaporates away from the pot. If you notice that the liquid level has dropped dramatically as the broth cooks, you can add more water if needed.
The longer the broth simmers, the richer the broth becomes both in flavor, color, and nutrition. While you can stop the process at any point, I like to let the broth simmer for 72 hours. As you can see, the broth takes on a beautifully rich color the longer it is allowed to develop in the slow cooker.
If you’re wondering how to know when your bone broth is finished, the process is simple. Remove a bone from the pot of liquid. When the bones have released all of their mineral content, they will crumble in your hands with very little pressure. This crumbling signals that the bone broth is finished.
At this point, the slow cooker can be turned off. I allow the broth to cool to room temperature before straining it through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Discard any bones, vegetables, or scraps, straining the broth a second time if any solids remain.
I fill one large Mason jar with bone broth to store in the refrigerator, using it in any recipe that calls for stock or broth. I freeze the rest using either ice cube trays or silicone baking cups before transferring to a freezer bag for long term storage. I use this frozen broth as I would fresh, adding it to any recipes that call for broth or stock.
Our bone broth never lasts very long in the freezer as we continue to find new ways to incorporate it into our favorite recipes. The flavor, aroma, and color are so superior to standard broth that I only regret that I didn’t start making bone broth sooner. Once you discover the simplicity of making homemade bone broth and its amazing depth of flavor, you’ll be wondering the same thing!
This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration. I’ll be adding new recipes right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.