Updated: Feb 19, 2020
While all of our food does not come from the farm at this point, all of our meat and dairy is produced on the farm, unless we have dry only dry cows at the time. But one thing that you are left with after butchering, or having your animals butchered like we do our cows is bones. We were at a loss for where to put all of the bones. We were fast running out of space in our freezers, and we didn’t want to lose all that nutrient dense goodness from the bone broth.
We have been into bone broth ever since we first read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Plus, there’s nothing we love more than a good, hearty soup that’s simmered with bones for a couple of days before adding the veggies. We practically live on soups during the winter, and we get so excited when the weather turns crisp and we crank up the wood stove and have a pot simmering on it. Just YUM!
So, this brings us to the bones. Imagine if you will 6 pigs worth of bones, 2 sheep, and a cow. Your freezer won’t hold them, and if there’s anything that you’ve learned from farming it’s that every portion of the animal is a gift and you don’t want to waste it.
We had preserved our broth and stock in several ways before. We had canned it which took up TONS of precious storage space on our shelves in the amount that we had. We had frozen it and there was even less space. So we have now entered the glorious phase of gelatin.
We have an enormous wood stove. We can put 6 enormous stock pots on it all at the same time. So, when we butcher an animal, the pots come off the pot rack and as the meat comes off the bones, the bones go into the pots (after making sure we first have our traditional post butchering meal of ribs – oh it’s to die for). The bones go into the pots with salt, pepper, a few glugs of apple cider vinegar, a chopped up onion and they simmer for at least 2 days if they are larger bones from the pigs and cows. Then, we remove the bones and do an initial strain. The chickens get the softened bones so that any remaining nutrients start working through their system and into the composting chips in their runs. Any larger bones we then bury in the composting mulch pile where they are broken down in no time at all so we can have rich compost for our garden.
But back inside the woodstove is still fired up and as we boil down the 6 pots of bone broth. These keep getting combined until there’s only one pot of super rich, thick broth left. Truth be told, when it’s slaughtering time, the pots get emptied only to get filled again, because farming runs in cycles of work. Late fall and winter is broth time. Once the big pot has boiled down about half way, we clear a spot in the fridge for the broth and let it cool overnight. The fat will rise to the top and solidify (beef bones is the hardest fat layer, followed by pig, and last poultry). The next morning you and your little helpers can scoop off that layer of fat for the chickens and then I have an army of silicone cake pans that are ready to be filled with the thickened broth. I set one silicone pan on the dehydrator sheet, pour in a layer of cooled broth, and carefully place it in the Excalibur dehydrator on high. If you want this process done in a day, don’t make it very deep in each pan. The next morning, if you have done it thin enough you can flip the silicone out on to the rack and dry it for another few hours. Once it’s fully dry, you can wipe off the last little bit of fat, break it apart, and store it in a vacuum sealed jar for a good long while.
When it’s time to make a soup, you just use water with a few pieces of your gelatin. Then, let it dissolve, and you will have the richest broth you can imagine! It is truly delicious!! It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Gelatin from bone broth used as your base in soups takes them to a whole new level. Plus, storing this gelatin takes so little room compared to any other way we have stored the bone broth. We use this in all of our soups that we enjoy throughout the fall and winter in place of stock and broth. The picture above is where we used it in our lentil stew. See the rich, warm color the broth gives to the soup. Yummy! It is so warming, filling, healthy and did I mention, delicious! Give this a try, you are sure to love it!
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