"All the Leftovers" Bone Broth + Bare Bones Broth Cookbook

Bone broth has slowly become one of my very favorite kitchen routines: it's an efficient use of food leftovers and scraps for those of us who don't live in a place that lends itself to compost; it's cheap; it makes the house smell divine; and it leaves me with a near-constant supply of hearty, homemade, smooth, velvety stock for any sauce, soup, stew, or other liquid recipe. My recipe (such as it is) is included below).

It sounds silly, perhaps, but the difference between store-bought broth, store-bought stock and homemade is simply astounding; as for the difference between this and Bouillon, well... they might as well be considered different food groups. 

But now I'm generating broth at a rate that far exceeds my current consumption of broth-based dishes... and so I was delighted to stumble upon The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook: 125 Gut-Friendly Recipes to Heal, Strengthen and Nourish the Body at the library recently. Though the book includes recipes for variations on the broth itself, I'm choosing to skip over those in favor of my own freezer-bag version (it seems silly to plan and purchase specific ingredients to make stock, though I suppose the how-tos here could be useful to someone who prefers more specifics than outlined below). With recipes for everything from breakfast to dinner, I'm excited to experiment with some new variations on traditional plates, learn how to incorporate broths into dishes I might otherwise not have, and try new things altogether (Coconut and Lime Sipping Broth? Rosemary and Garlic sipping broth?).

Bonus: Katherine and Ryan Harvey, authors of The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook, sell Bare Bones Broth (though really, please, make your own--it's so easy!) and have a blog featuring many recipes from their cookbook.


Cheap, Easy, Effective Bone Broth: No Special Grocery Lists Necessary

The concept is simple, really. I start with a brown paper shopping bag and a spot in the freezer (that latter part is often the hardest for me...). As I cook other meals, I keep any and all vegetable ends and meat bones and add them to the bag. This might include:

  • the bones from any bone-in steak or pork meal
  • the carcass from a roast chicken (or leftover leg bones if you're just having bone-in legs)
  • garlic and onion peels
  • the ends of vegetables you don't chop up into your main dish (tops of carrots, roots of celery, ends of zucchini, ends & skins of onions)
  • the inevitable leftover herb stems you have after you buy thyme, rosemary or other aromatics for just one recipe and find that the bunch at the grocery store is definitely too large and is going to go bad before you remember to use it all up
  • any vegetable you've got hanging around that is at the end of its life but you know you won't use or eat before it goes bad
I do recommend avoiding:

  • potato skins, unless they are really, really well scrubbed in advance (you don't want dirt in your food, do you?)
  • similarly, any sandy or possibly dirty vegetable that hasn't been properly and thoroughly scrubbed down
  • leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, Brussels sprouts, etc.), as these will just turn the stock bitter as they cook and add little to no appetizing flavor
  • fish parts, unless you have enough to make an entire batch of fish stock (bones, shrimp shells, etc.)
Assuming you're using a standard paper shopping bag, when the bag's about 1/4 way full, toss all of the contents into a slow cooker, fill with cold water, and add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. (I personally do not add salt to mine, because I prefer an unsalted stock in case I choose to use it for reductions or long-simmering sauces. But you could salt it at this step if you prefer.)

Cook for 12-24 hours (this is the part where your house smells amazing). Remove the liner from the slow cooker and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into storage containers of your choosing.* Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, just long enough that the fat cap floats the top and solidifies, so it can easily be removed with a spoon and tossed. After tossing the excess fat, the stock will store 4-5 days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. [Stocks made with fattier meats/bones, like steak or pork, will have a thicker fat cap than stocks made with lean meats, like chicken breasts, or just veggies, which may not need this step at all.]

*We order from the local Vietnamese restaurant entirely too often, so I use leftover pho containers for this task (they hold exactly 3.5 cups of liquid). When storing in the fridge, I also use leftover pasta sauce jars (I try not to freeze the glass jars though, as they make break as the liquid expands). Every few batches of broth, I fill ice cube trays with the liquid to freeze for instances when I want just a splash or two of stock instead of an entire container.

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