If you asked me what our family's most important, most healing, most nourishing food is I would answer without hesitation. Bone broth.
Rich, long-simmered, nutrient-rich bone broth.
I make a batch weekly and we drink it by the mug-full, cook vegetables or meat in it, and transform it into soups and stews once or twice a week.
Made with kitchen scraps and bones of any sort, we strive to eat a serious amount of this every week. When we're sick or wrestling with tooth decay or food sensitivities we up the quantity to 1 quart per day for adults and 1 pint per day for kids. That's a lot of broth!
And sometimes it's nice to make a huge batch and tuck it away for late use. Normally I freeze stock in quarts but taking most of a day to thaw a jar of stock requires forethought that I don't always have.
Plus I'm a master at breaking jars with this method, so. You know. Running low on jars after a while.
Enter the pressure canner.
Pressure canning stock is the easiest way to get started with your pressure canner. It's a no-brainer of a formula, and if you're nervous about using your pressure canner it's the idea first batch.
It took me a while to build my courage for this kitchen experiment, but after I got a friend hooked on broth she returned the favor by getting me hooked on pressure canning it. It was easier than I thought, and the luxury of not having to thaw broth every two days? It's genius.
Ready to give it a go? Here's how.
First, let's make some stock.
What kind? That's entirely up to you. Fish, chicken, lamb, beef, venison – anything goes!
While the jars in the photos below are lamb stock, chicken is even more common around here.
Basic Bone Broth Recipe
It's so. Darn. Easy. And delicious. (Really!) Here's how to make 1/2 gallon or more in four easy steps.
1. Save any bones from your weekly meals in a bag in the freezer. Fish, chicken, turkey, duck, beef, venison, lamb, beef… you get the idea. You can also purchase bones inexpensively at your local grocery or coop. Throughout the week add any carrot and celery trims, onion ends and peels, and garlic trims to the bag.
2. On stock making day transfer your bag of bones and vegetable scraps to a slowcooker or large soup pot. Add an extra head of garlic cut in half across the cloves (don't bother peeling or separating cloves) and a small onion or carrot if your veggie scraps aren't abundant. No need to chop or peel anything. Just toss them in whole.
How many bones and how much vegetables should you add? It's adaptable. For chicken stock aim for one chicken carcass, one medium onion, one celery stalk and one medium carrot as a good place to start for an average (8-12 quart) stock pot.
Add twelve peppercorns, one bay leaf and (optional) one 2" knob of ginger root, cut in half and smashed with the blunt end of a knife.
3. Cover everything with water and add 2 Tb apple cider vinegar. The vinegar is important. It helps extract the minerals for the bones into the broth, which it what we're after. Set aside for one hour while the vinegar starts to work it's way into the bones.
4. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered on very low heat. Leave on low heat for 24 hours for small bones (chicken and fish) and 48 hours or more for large (cut beef, lamb, or venison bones). Add water as needed. You can begin drawing off your stock and replacing what you take with water after just six hours. But the longer you simmer the more mineral rich your broth will be.
Now it's time to can!
Fill your quart or pint jars to within 1" of the rim. Dip a cotton cloth or paper towel in white vinegar and wipe the rim of your jars. This will ensure a clean rim and a good seal. You can also use water but I'm partial to the vinegar trick.
Put your lids in a pot of just boiled water to soften the rings. (If you are buying new lids this season check the box label. The newest BPA-free lids on the market you skip this step for.)
Top your jars with lids and screw on rings "finger tight". (If you are unsure how tight that is simply tighten the rings fully, the loosen approximately 1/2".
Meanwhile, heat approximately 3" – 4" of water in your pressure canner. (Unlike a water bath canner you don't submerge your jars fully in a pressure canner. The steam pressure does the work this time, not the simmering water.) Add a splash of vinegar if you have hard water to prevent minerals from coating the outside of your jars.
When your jars are full and lidded and the canner is simmering, it's time to load up! Affix the lid on your canner but don't engage your weight yet.
Watch your canner. When a plume of steam escapes from the valve set a timer for 10 minutes. Keep the heat on under your canner. (Waiting for the steam plume to start in earnest can take an additional 5 – 15 minutes.)
When your timer goes off it's time to apply the pressure! Set your weight to 10 lbs of pressure. Keep the heat on and when the weight begins to rattle set your timer. How long you maintain pressure depends on your jar sizes:
Quarts: 25 minutes
Pints: 20 minutes
I always adjust the heat so that my weight is rattling on and off every few seconds rather than a constant rattle that makes me think my pressure canner might explode at any moment. You don't want long gaps between rattles, but two to three seconds is great.)
When your timer goes off turn off the burner. Don't you open the canner! Don't even try. And don't quick-cool the lid by draping a damp towel over it. Just leave it be. Seriously. Otherwise you're fixing for an exploding broth disaster. For. Real.
Allow your canner to cool for 45 minutes or more, then remove the weight and carefully remove the lid.
Use a jar lifted to carefully remove your jars and place them on a towel to cool. Oh, and they will likely still be boiling away inside the jars, a bizarre sight to behold on the counter top.
If you are using Tattler BPA-free lids, then using a hot pad for each hand, tighten your rings and allow the jars to cool for four hours. If you are using regular lids, simply remove and leave the lids be.
After four hours check that your lids have sealed by pushing down on the center of the lid. If the lid is sucked down it is sealed. If not transfer to the fridge and use within a week or transfer to wide-mouth pints filled 3/4 full and freeze.
Allow the sealed jars to sit undisturbed for 12 hours.
After 12 hours remove rings, double-check that the lids are tightly sealed, label and transfer to your pantry.
You did it! Take a bow.