Playing around in the garden too much in winter is a bit of a no-no. Winter is a time for rest and perusing seed catalogues – plant porn I call it, and herb gardening. You would have seen in some previous articles about how to build a herb spiral garden and what to be planting in your herb garden over winter. Now that we are on the cusp of spring – thank goodness! It is time to harvest some herbs and make some tasty and nutritious meals out of them. Today it is all about making bone broth for good gut health. It is useful for soups, sauces, stews, curries and almost any dish that requires cooking veges or meat in liquid. I’ve even seen dessert recipes using bone broth. The scope is endless.
One of my favourite things to make at this time as seasons change is a good organic chicken bone broth. Any bones from any organic animal can be used including those from chicken, beef, lamb, pork, fish and wild animal meat like duck (if you’ve been lucky enough to get some this season), deer and pig have some of the healthiest bones around since they have been left to forage on mixed grasses, seeds and insects. Bone broth is an excellent way to get fat soluble vitamins into your diet; a good broth will contain two very important amino acids that support detoxification and building cell structures. These amino acids are proline and glycine along with an abundance of minerals and collagen. Bone broth should be drunk on a daily basis throughout the year. I especially wanted to highlight this recipe since early spring is when kids tend to be at risk of picking up the sniffles, colds and at the moment, glandular fever seems to be rife at our local secondary school.
Your stock once cooled should be gelatinous. If the consistency is liquid once cooled, your brew may have been too diluted when made. I make mine with just covering the bones with cold fresh water.
Bone Broth Recipe
1. Place a collection of bones devoid of the flesh in your stock pot or crock pot. A mix of bones can be used, however in today’s recipe I have used organic chicken bones left over from a roast made last night. Here I have used bones from one chicken, so subsequently will be a smaller stock output which will help you to try making it in a smaller manageable amount.
2. Cover the bones in COLD water.
3. Add 2 Tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar to the cold water. This helps draw the nutrients out of the bones.
4. Go herb picking now and let the apple cider vinegar water do a little extraction for 15 minutes before beginning the cooking process.
5. I harvested fresh herbs from my new herb garden which I created 12 weeks ago. The herb plants are small but have grown so well over winter – I am impressed.
Clockwise from the top:
- Flat leaf parsley
- Endive lettuce
- Lemon balm
- Celery leaves
6. Wash your herbs with filtered water and set aside. These herbs will be added in the last one hour of broth cooking.
7. Gently bring your bone broth to a very low simmer. This is where cooking your broth in a crock pot set to low is ideal; as it can be simply set and then you are free to go about your day for the next four hours for chicken stock and a minimum of 6 hours for other bones. It is ideal to let it extract for much longer, up to 48 hours. Just make sure you keep an eye on the water level and always keep it topped up to just covering the bones. You will find that chicken bones will disintegrate after around 24 hours. On my first try of making this last year, I got all uppity as to “who took the bones out guys”… it was nobody, must be the woofer or him… no is was not the four year old, or the cat, it just ended up all in the broth which I since learnt was fine!
Time for herbs
8. Herbs are full of their own nutritional benefits. I use a wide range of them from my garden so I know they are fresh and not sprayed with nasty chemicals. Fresh herbs should be added in the last 10 minutes of cooking. If dried herbs are your only option, then use these in the final hour. Quantity is not such a big deal. For this stock I have used 1 cup of mixed fresh herbs. If using dried herbs I suggest 3 tablespoons of mixed herbs.
9. Vegetables can be used. Vegetables that are in season like leek, carrot, parsnip can give a nice flavour. Give them enough time to soften but not overcook. You do not want them to be unidentifiable nor un-findable when you come to straining time.
10. DO NOT ADD ANY SALT. I am a big fan of healthy pink rock salt, however in this recipe leave the salt out. Add your salt to the end product of whatever you are adding your broth to, not at the stage of cooking the broth itself.
11. Pour your broth mix through a colander to catch the veges, herbs and bones. The clear to pale brown mix left is your bone broth that can be drunk as a drink hot on its own or added to a variety of recipes calling for ‘stock’.