Tatonka's Bone Broth
I finally started making bone broth when Tatonka, my dear old Aussie/Sheltie mix started showing signs of hip dysplasia. I had tried many supplements for her joints, but plain glucosamine and chondroitin, even in large amounts, did not make a bit of difference. MSM was the one supplement that seemed to be the magical ingredient that she needed, however, it quickly did a number on her digestive system and it was quite costly when I looked for an amount that was necessary for a senior dog. Once I started down the bone broth road, I realized how easy it is to make bone broth, or any broth, and wish I had started long ago. Now, I cringe when I see others throw their meat bones in the trash after taking off the meat. Such a waste. However, I do have to admit that I am bit obsessed when it comes to not letting things go to waste.
Back to the subject at hand; when it comes to making regular old bone broth for the dogs (or humans), I keep it quite simple. Typically, if I am not using a leftover bird carcass, I will purchase beef soup bones from the freezer section of my co-op. If you can't find them or don't know where to look, ask your butcher, I find most of them are willing to share lots of information when it comes to meat, especially when you are shopping small neighborhood stores and shops. Because I will let my bones cook down for a couple days, I find that 3 or 4 soup bones are enough to produce a couple quarts. You can probably get a heartier flavor if you use a few more. A lot of this was experimentation for me and I eventually came up with a formula that works for my preferences.
Once you have your bones, put them in a slow cooker, cover with cold water and 1-2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), organic and from a bottle that contains "the mother". Braggs is very popular these days, as ACV has become well known for its health properties. I even noticed Target had put up a display in their pharmaceutical aisle! That's it. Then turn it on low and let it go for as long as you see fit. For super nutritious bone broth, I believe the more gelatinous the broth becomes once it is cooled the better. And for that, I will leave it cooking for 48 hours. I have two types of crocks. One is old and does not have a great seal, but I like it for its size and because it is not digital and it will allow me to leave it turned on for as long as I wish. Because it doesn't seal well, however, I do have to check it often and continually add water to make sure the bones are covered and there is plenty of water that it won't start boiling or over heat. This one is 5 quarts so I keep it about half full at all times. If you check your pot and think, "that won't give me very much broth," just add some more water until it looks like a good amount. When I use this crock it also drives the dogs crazy for two days as the lack of a seal puts a lot of aroma in the air...
My other crockpot is a 6 quart, digital and with latches to seal the top down while cooking. Definitely less maintenance, but I do have to remember to check the timer every now and again to ensure it is still running. The most amount of time it will run is 10 hours so I just reset it when I leave for the day or before I go to bed. If it does happen to turn off for a little while, it will not affect your cooking process. Just get it going again when you remember.
That's it! You can also save vegetable scraps to add in towards the end of your cooking, maybe the last 12 hours or so. If you want to add herbs, such as parsley, do so closer to the last couple hours. Once it is done, let it cool down and use a mesh strainer to transfer the broth to containers. If you have a lot of liquid, strain it into a large bowl first and then scoop/ladle from there to decrease your mess. I also use any meat that I can clean from the bones as dog treats over the next two or three days. The broth should be used within about a week from the fridge, but you can freeze into small containers and defrost as you need. Although this recipe is geared towards our canine friends, I use this bone broth for my recipes as well, and because it is so thick I can just add water to thin it out if necessary. It is also useful to sneak a tablespoon into my kids' smoothies in the summertime, especially if they need a little health boost.
There are many ways to do bone broth, but I believe this is an easy way to get started and experiment with a low-stress process.