Making stock in the slow cooker

On Saturday I got to the butcher’s van early and before they had sold out of soup bones. I bought two packs of bones, around 1.6Kg in weight, for £2. I used these bones to make my first batch of stock in the slow cooker. Here’s what I did.

raw bones

The raw bones

cooked bones

The cooked bones

First I roasted the bones at 160C Fan (180C/Gas 4/350F) for 50 minutes. I had more bones than I can fit into my slow cooker so I divided them up into two batches. One I used to make the stock and the second I froze to use another time.

bones in the pot

The bones were put in the pot with crushed garlic cloves, some cider vinegar and water.

The bones were put into the slow cooker with the crushed cloves from a whole bulb of garlic and covered with boiling water. I used boiling water to bring the contents to a simmer more quickly. I now know that THIS WAS A MISTAKE. Looking back, since every account of making stock I read used cold water, I should have realised that there was a good reason for this but none of them said what it was. I have since found out that using cold water promotes the extraction of protein, helping to up the nutrient quotient of the stock. I added a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help the extraction of minerals. You could also add chopped onion, carrot and celery (in a ration 2:1:1) at this point – I didn’t.

I set the cooker to high for the first few hours until the contents were bubbling away and then I turned the setting down to low.

bones removed for crushing

After 24 hours the bones were removed, put in a paper bag and crushed to get at the goodness inside.

crushed bones

The crushed bones

24 hours later I fished out the bones, put them into a paper bag and smashed them up with a sledge hammer to get every last bit of goodness out of them. I returned the broken bits to the cooking pot and left everything to simmer for another day.

crushed bones returned to the pot

The crushed bones were returned to the pot.

One thread on making stock that I read recommended adding seaweed to the stock to make it even more nutritious. I had an opened bag of sea lettuce lying around waiting for a use so I put a handful into the stock a couple of hours before the end of cooking time.

Stock after 2 days

Stock after 2 days of cooking.

straining the stock

Straining the stock.

stock ‘n’ bones

bottled stock

Stock bottled and ready for refrigeration.

The stock bubbled away for 2 days altogether. I then turned off the cooker and allowed the mix to cool a little before straining off the liquid and putting it into a couple of jars. When the stock had cooled completely the jars were put into the fridge for later use.

The bone remnants went into the hot composting bin.

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