Part of living a sustainable lifestyle includes using (and reusing) as much as you can, and food is no exception.
At our house, we decrease food waste by saving raw vegetable “throw-aways,” such as onion tops, carrot peels, celery stalks, etc., and meat bones. We use those leftover bones and vegetable matter to make bone broth. I store the bones and veggies in bags in the freezer until ready to use. And, while bone broth is currently having its moment in the sun in the world of foodies and health gurus, its use is nothing new.
The nourishing liquid has been around since people started throwing bones into pots to stretch meals “just a little bit farther.” Even my almost 90-year-old grandmother-in-law told me that bone broth was nothing new to her (after I suggested she make some to help the healing process when she had a broken bone).
And, making bone broth is easy — as easy as throwing ingredients in a pot for a day. Plus, when you make bone broth vs. buying it in the store, you can guarantee freshness and ingredient sources. You can make and use bone broth in a day, or you can prepare it now and freeze, or can, for future use. I use an Instant Pot to make my bone broth, but you can use a regular stockpot (just add in a bunch more hours of cooking time).
Check out the steps below to make bone broth in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.
1. Fill. Fill pressure cooker to max fill line with bones. Fill any remaining gaps along sides with vegetable matter and herbs of choice. The herbs I use change on what I have on hand Sometimes I use fresh rosemary or thyme; other times, I use dried herbs. Fill pot with water (careful not to go over max fill line), and toss in a bit of apple cider vinegar and some salt.
2. Cook. Cook on high (or meat) setting for four hours. When done, let the Instant Pot natural release. This is when you turn the value to open and nothing happens. It will take about an hour to get to that point. If you check it (and do this in little increments) and fluid starts sputtering out of the top, you need to leave it longer.
3. Strain. Once you are able to remove the lid of your pressure cooker, set a strainer in a large bowl in the sink. You will strain out the majority of the bones and vegetable matter here. The liquid and pot may still be hot, so use caution and use oven mitts if needed. Discard the stuff in the strainer. Place containers on counter (I use quart mason jars and usually get a little over three out of my 6-quart pot). Use a smaller strainer while pouring into jars to catch any additional floating bits that may have escaped the first straining process.
4. Cool. Leave to sit until cool enough to place lids on the jars and then place in the refrigerator. During the cooling process (usually overnight), a layer of fat will form at the top of each jar. Open jars, remove and discard fat. Your bone broth should look gelatinous, but don’t worry, it all turns to liquid again when heated. Note: If you use too much vegetable matter to bone ratio, you’ll still end up with a broth, but it won’t turn out gelatinous.
5. Use. The bone broth is now ready to use. Heat and drink as is, or use in your favorite recipes.
*Please use common sense when cooking and using a pressure cooker and handling hot liquids. Read your appliance’s instructions and the follow directions before using or trying new recipes.