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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.