Bone broth is all the rage for its benefits, which include a healthy gut; healthy hair, skin, and nails; and a well-functioning immune system.
But the act of making bone broth is nothing new. It's a time-honored staple for thrifty cooks looking to get every last nutrient out of their animal proteins and stretch their grocery budget by making chicken broth at home instead of paying for it—and folk wisdom knew about the benefits of bone broth long before science substantiated them.
I absolutely love making bone broth on a winter weekend and having the warm, savory scent permeate our whole house! My trick of pouring the broth into a silicone muffin pan and freezing it leaves me with one-cup servings I can use throughout the rest of the year—easy peasy!
MY BASIC BONE BROTH RECIPE
Bones from a whole roasted chicken
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
2 stalks of celery
1 white onion
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Place the bones in the slow cooker and cover with filtered water. If you have skin left over from the chicken, you can add that too. Don't worry about cleaning off the bones first—you will be filtering the whole thing, and having more meat and skin in the broth actually makes it more flavorful!
Toss in the whole garlic cloves and peppercorns. Roughly chop the carrots, celery, and onion and throw those in too.
Add the apple cider vinegar and give the whole thing a gentle stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to mix it.
Cook on low for 24 to 72 hours. If you're not seeing the bones start to break down, keep cooking it to help you get the good stuff out into the broth. You may need to add more liquid as it cooks off and turn the temperature up to high temporarily until the freshly added water warms up.
Once you turn off the slow cooker, let the broth cool a bit so it's easier to handle, then strain it. (I place a large Pyrex measuring cup in the sink with a metal strainer sitting on top of it. Then I pick up the crockpot insert with two potholders and carefully pour the hot liquid through the strainer, making sure to stop before the measuring cup is completely full. It usually takes me 3 batches with the measuring cup.)
- Have your silicone muffin pans ready on top of cookie sheets. (I've made the mistake of forgetting this step a few times and it is NOT fun!) Each crockpot of bone broth usually fills up 4 half-dozen muffin pans (for a total of 24 one-cup servings). As you do this a few times, you'll learn how the level of the liquid in your crockpot corresponds to the number of muffin cups, and either add more water or cook the broth longer to make the liquid more concentrated.
- Clear space in your freezer, then carefully transfer the cookie sheets with the broth-filled muffin tins into the freezer. (It helps to have somebody assist you, since it's nearly impossible to hold a cookie sheet full of hot liquid level with one hand while opening the freezer door with the other.)
- Once the broth is frozen solid, remove the cookie sheets from the freezer. Turn the muffin pans inside out, popping each cup-sized serving of frozen broth out as you go. This is the fun part—they look like little chicken-flavored hockey pucks! Collect the broth "pucks" in a gallon-sized freezer bag or two and freeze until you're ready to use them.
That's it! Super simple, right? Some recipes call for you to strain fat off the top surface of the broth, and you can do that if you like—but I never bother with that step and my broth seems to turn out just fine.
If you try this recipe, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you think—and subscribe to my newsletter to see more recipes like this in the future.