Making April’s Vitamin and Mineral Rich Bone Stock
April Scripps, owner of the Vintage Gourmet in Del Ray, hosted our second DIY Del Ray demo (of many to come) in her recently remodeled kitchen, where she taught participants how to make gelatin-rich bone stock.
April’s business specializes in “traditional wisdom for the modern kitchen.” Last spring, she held hands-on workshops on making kombucha, fermented fruits and vegetables, and cultured dairy.
In the demo, April first explained the subtle differences in what are largely interchangeable terms: stock and broth. Stock, as opposed to broth, is a neutral base, for soups, sauces, pasta, risotto, and other dishes. Broth, on the other hand, is strained and clear and highly seasoned, with salt, spices and maybe wine, with a much higher ratio of seasoning to liquid.
Stock is the result of cooking down all of the bones and cartilage completely, leading to a gelatinous, rich end result, chock full of vitamins and minerals. As April likes to say, citing an Old World adage, “good stock will raise the dead.”
Stock is a nutritional powerhouse — it aids digestion, fights inflammation, and inhibits infections. For a thorough description of the health benefits of bone stock or broth, I recommend this blog post. The gelatin is also a great first food for babies. April is a few months away from feeding her youngest daughter solid food and, among other recipes, plans to give it to her plain on a spoon “in its most marvelous gelatinous form.” You can also add a spoonful of the gelatin to sweet potato puree, or rice and grains. She freezes some of the stock in ice cube trays to allow for easy single servings.
April uses a 16-quart stainless steel pot and 8 pounds of bones — a mix of both “bony bones” and “meaty bones,” which provide different properties in the stock. She also likes to add bones with good cartilage, which contributes to a nice gelatinous consistency. The bone marrow provides the high mineral content and April says the organ meats are the “super food” in the stock, offering excellent healing properties.
For our demo, April sourced her bones — lamb, beef, and organ meats — from Jawad Laouaouda and Tania Leach, owners of Bon Vivant, a company in Alexandria that sells meats, cheese, eggs and produce from local farms. (Bon Vivant is also selling their packaged meats at Seva’s Farm Fresh Market in Del Ray.) It’s important to use “clean” bones, she says, from animals that graze on grass, with no pesticides or hormones or antibiotics.
Using a stainless pot also keeps any contaminants from the pot from seeping into the stock, as may happen with a crock pot for example.
Before simmering the bones, April likes to roast about half of the bones in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes to add more meaty flavor to the stock.
Then, she adds about a gallon of filtered water to the pot. Over the course of the 1 to 3 days of simmering, she may add a bit more water if too much evaporates. But you don’t want too much water or else you won’t achieve the gelatin. April says this is not an exact science. If you don’t get enough gelatin in the end, you can also buy some, like this brand, and add it to your stock.
Some say that using an induction cooktop gives better results. April showed us her countertop model that you can buy if you have a gas stove and want to try this method.
She also tosses in 3 stalks of celery, 3 whole carrots unpeeled, and 3 onions skins on, cut into big chunks. She doesn’t add the bitter celery leaves though.
Next, she pours in about a 1/2 cup of mild vinegar (she uses Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, but any will do) to “jump start the process and pull out minerals from the bones.”
After an initial boil, the ingredients cook down in the stock pot, uncovered, for between 24 and 72 hours at a very low “rolling” simmer, to preserve the most nutrients and avoid letting them evaporate. If you don’t want to leave the stove on overnight, you can turn it off, put a lid on it, and then on again in the morning. Pathogens would only form after four hours at room temperature, so you don’t need to refrigerate the stock when the burner is turned off. It takes hours before the liquid cools to room temperature, so it’s not likely that it will sit long enough to pose a problem. This method is called the cumulative time approach.
Once in a while during the process, you may need to use the strainer to skim “scum” from the surface of the stock. If you use conventional bones (not recommended), rather than grass-fed “clean” bones, she says, you’ll see more scum.
In the final 10 minutes, you add an entire bunch of fresh whole parsley, even the ends.
Then, you turn up the heat a little and add spices, like this mix from Fields of Athenry. April used a half of the container (about 6 oz.) for the volume in her large stock pot.
When the stock is finished, you let it cool and then pull out any remaining bones and organs that didn’t break down.
Next, you strain the stock, and put it in the fridge until the tallow forms on the top. April showed us an example in a small container.
She used a fork to break up and remove the tallow pieces and then the strainer to scoop it out.
Tallow is the rendered fat, a heat-stable, highly nutritious fat that doesn’t have to be refrigerated if kept in an air-tight container.
April uses the tallow instead vegetable oils for cooking savory dishes. Tallow, on its own, is worthy of its own DIY post, for its use in candle-making, soaps and salves.
The last step is to freeze the stock. April’s method yields up to about 4 quarts that she can use to add a nutritional boost and flavor to soups, gravies, stews, sauces, rice or vegetable dishes. It’s even nice to warm up some of the stock in a mug to sip on a cold winter day. It not only helps to stave off colds and flu, but is so tasty too.
If there are topics you’d like to learn or if you’d like to lead a future demo, please email us. We’d love to hear from you!