I learned about the health benefits of bone broth (aka stock) a couple winters ago when I found my love of soup making. When sourced from healthy, pastured, happy animals, bone broth helps digestion and leaky gut; boosts your immune system; and improves skin, hair, and nails. All of these amazing health benefits come from the gelatin, collagen, marrow, and countless minerals like calcium and magnesium from within the bones.
I first sourced out beef bones from a local farmer. But I did not love the taste of beef bone broth. My husband likes making chicken roast dinner, so I decided to give chicken bone broth a go. Mmmmm, that was the broth I was hoping for! We try to cook a monthly chicken roast for many reasons. We get delicious, locally sourced meat to eat over the course of many days, I get to make at least 9-10 servings of bone broth, and our pup gets the funny bits. The best part...it's not even hard!
I have not yet upgraded to a larger crockpot (which is my FAVORITE cooking appliance). I'm working full steam ahead with a 3-quart crockpot circa 1987. Just imagine the stockpile of bone broth you will have with a larger crockpot! I will admit, I'm not in charge of cooking the chicken. But I'm pretty sure all he does is stuff it with some garlic and put it on a pan with sweet potatoes, carrots, fennel, and thyme, and into the oven it goes. After all of the carving of the light and dark meat, it's on to making the liquid gold.
Place the chicken carcass and any other bones like wings or thighs into your crockpot. If you happen to have any additional goodies like neck and feet, pop 'em in. You may add some veggies to flavor your broth (onions, carrots, celery), but this is not necessary. My last batch only contained two large carrots. Once everything is in the crockpot, cover with water. I once read that adding apple cider vinegar to the water will allow the leeching of all the goodness from the bones. I then put the crockpot on low and leave for at least 48 hours.
When the time comes to harvest your broth, things may look a little "oily" but this is just all the healthy gelatin. The more bones you use, especially joints like knuckles, feet, and necks, the more gelatinous your broth will be. First I scoop out all of the bones and vegetables and set them aside. If you have a dog like my ever-so-hungry dachshund, I take it one step further by plucking the scraps of meat off the bones. The meat pretty much falls right off after soaking in water for 2 days. After most of everything is out of the crockpot, I take a fine meshed strainer and pour the broth through the strainer into a clean mixing bowl. I then do the straining process for a second time into a different clean mixing bowl (or cleaned crockpot). This ensures that there's only broth in your bone broth. As a final step, I am a huge fan of cooking once and eating multiple times, so I portion approximately 1/2 - 3/4 cup of broth into freezer-safe glass jars. Sometimes I add cooked carrots and celery, brown rice, or nothing at all before popping a couple in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. You may also freezer in larger or smaller batches if using as a soup base or in cooking your favorite grain like rice or quinoa. If you find your broth has completely gelled in the fridge, don't fret - it's just the nutrient-rich gelatin that has solidified. Do no scrape off any gel after the broth has cooled, just heat it up and enjoy! I like mine for breakfast or as a midday snack.
Next time you roast a chicken or turkey, or have drumsticks for dinner, think twice about tossing those bones in the garbage. And as always, the healthiest and happiest of animals will provide you with optimal nutrients.