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soups on sunday - old time bone broth

If i were to give you a peek inside our freezer you would see a few filets of salmon (gift from a friend), butter, neat wrapped packages of lamb, bananas, berries and lots of bone broth.  it nearly fills the two shelves on the freezer door in pint jars, a few ziplock bags of broth tucked between, behind and amongst everything else.  there is lamb bone broth, crab broth and beef bone broth.  drinking bone broth is another way of getting your multivitamin and we use it as a base for the bulk of our soups, stews and grains.  its rich in calcium, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  broth is still a household staple in most european and asian countries and we are doing our part to help it make a comeback here in the states.  there are numerous recipes online for a good broth or stock, below you will find the basic one i use regularly.  it has a nice flavor and will not overwhelm.
 
I'll save some of my vegetable compost, like onion and garlic skins, leek and celery tops for a week then make my bone broth.  this saves money and is making use out of "waste" items.  let me point out that garlic and onion skins will impart a nice golden color to the broth as well as loads of antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds (shown to be anti-carcinogenic and to reduce heart disease).  this is also true for celery greens and leek tops.

knuckle & marrow bones, with or without meat
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 or 6 qt stock pot, or bigger
3 carrots peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery with tops, chopped
3-5 sprigs thyme
1 tsp crushed green peppercorns
one bunch leek tops
onion & garlic skins*
1 bunch parsley


Begin by placing all the bones in the bottom of a large stock pot, at least 5-6 quarts.  add cold filtered water to cover your bones by 3-4 inches and the 1/2 cup vinegar.  stir it all up and let sit one hour.  now, turn the heat on and stay nearby.  you'll want to bring the pot to a boil, skimming off all the gray-brown foaming skum along the way.  if you miss this, the skum will sink after a while and give your broth an off flavor, enough to taste terrible!  skim, skim, skim, discarding what you remove from the pot.

Meanwhile, clean and prep all your vegetables, setting the parsley aside for the very end.  i've found that peeling carrots prevents a bitter flavor forming in the broth.  once you have successfully skimmed your bone broth, add the vegetables, thyme and peppercorns and more cold water to bring the level up to 1/2 inch from the top of the pot.  again, return to a boil and skim once more if necessary, then turn down to a bare simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.  ideally you want to simmer your broth for 12-72 hours.  i strive for 24 hours.  this allows the vinegar to break down the bones sufficiently to release their calcium and minerals.  stir in the parsley for the last ten minutes of cooking time and remove from heat. 

Let your finished broth cool a bit.  with a utensil, carefully pluck the bones out and set aside*.  strain the rest of the broth into another large pot or bowl, discarding the vegetables as they are quite spent at this point.  cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the broth to cool enough for the fat to congeal on the surface.  carefully skim this off and set aside.  at this point, you can transfer your stock to smaller containers and refrigerate (up to 5 days) or freeze (a few months).  for ease of use, i measure my stock out in portions of 2, 4 and 6 cups before freezing.  if freezing in mason jars, add the cold stock to a new jar, only filling to within 1 inch of the rim.  screw your lid on very loosely, and place in the freezer, once the liquid has frozen, tighten the lid.  it is very easy to damage glass jars in the freezer.  i put plastic lids on mine and keep then on the freezer door, so the glass is never bumped.  alternatively, you can measure stock into freezer bags.  no matter how you store your broth, label it clearly.  i write with a sharpie on my jars the date made and an initial, like "L" for lamb broth, "B" for beef.

*bone marrow pate:  with a knife or a chopstick, poke out the marrow (gelatinous, brown substance in the middle of the hollow marrow bones) and place in a bowl.  mix in 1 minced clove of garlic and just enough broth to achieve a spreadable consistency.  spread this on warm toast for a delicious and quite healthy treat. 

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