Bone broth is a staple of my family’s diet. As with healthy fats, heirloom vegetables, grass-fed meats and a good old-fashioned cod liver oil, we consume a lot of bone broths – usually aiming for one quart per person per day, at the recommendation of our nutritionist. Broth, you see, is a nutritional powerhouse. It is extraordinarily rich in easy-to-assimilate minerals, amino acids and goodies like glucosamine chondroitin. Its gelatin helps to heal the gut, which is why it plays such an integral role in the GAPS diet, and it provides powerful medicine – particularly in combating colds and flus.
And, you did read that right: we do aim for one quart per adult per day (the little one of the household gets at least a pint). That’s a lot of broth. Let me do the math for you. That’s between two and three quarts per day, averaging to about four and a half gallons of broth each week for our family. Yes, as you might imagine, soups and stews are a big part of our day, more so in the winter than in the summer. When I serve breakfast, I serve it with a mug of broth and another mug of broth sits at my desk as I work.
It’s a beautiful thing, really, and I credit good broth, cod liver oil and of fermented foods with the resilient immunity my family enjoys each flu season. We also use these unconventional techniques to fight the flu and build immunity.
So how do we make enough broth?
So if you’re wondering just how I manage working at home full time, homeschooling our 6-year old with making four and a half gallons of bone broth each week, I’ll tell you. I slow cook it. I call it perpetual soup. You see, my six-quart slowcooker (kinda like this one) is my cauldron. That is, it is always on – bubbling away and ready to nourish my family with the bounty of the bones that stew away every hours of every day.
Once a week, I place the frame of a roast chicken into the slow cooker, cover it with filtered water (We use a Berkey to filter our water, and you can find them online.), toss in a few bay leaves, black peppercorns and vegetable scraps, turn it on and call it good. As I pull broth from the slow cooker, I filter it through a reusable coffee filter which helps to strain out any floating herbs, chicken skin or pieces of bone and results in a beautiful clear broth. As I remove broth, I add water and continue the process throughout the week – ensuring that by the end of the week every bit of goodness has been pulled from that chicken frame.
And, in case you’re worried about the cost of keeping your slow cooker on twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week, the estimated cost of running your slow cooker is about $0.01 to $0.03 per hour – for a total cost of $1.68 to $5.04 for the week. Undoubtedly worth it. Learn more about energy-wise cooking here.
- 1 whole chicken, (or the frame of a roasted chicken)
- 2 sweet bay leaves
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- any vegetable scraps you have on hand
- filtered water
- Place one whole chicken or the frame of a roasted chicken into your slow cooker with sweet bay, black peppercorns and any vegetable scraps you have on hand. Cover with filtered water and cook on low for one week.
- After twenty-four hours, you may begin using the broth. As you need broth or stock, simply dip a ladle or measuring cup into the slow cooker to remove the amount of stock you need. Pour it through a fine-mesh sieve or, preferably, a reusable coffee filter which will help to clarify the broth. Replace the broth you remove from the slow cooker with an equivalent amount of filtered water. If you’re using a whole, fresh chicken, you may also remove chicken meat from the slow cooker as desired for stir-fries, in soups or in
- At the end of the week, strain off any remaining broth and discard or compost the bones. The bones from your chicken should crumble when pressed between your thumb and forefinger. Their softness is an indication that much of the nourishment from the bones – minerals, amino acids – have leached from the bones and into the broth you’ve enjoyed all week long. Wash the insert of your slow cooker and start again.