By Erin Huffstetler | 04/02/2018 | 15 Comments
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Save the ham bone from your holiday ham, and use it to make ham broth. If you do it in the crockpot, it’ll practically make itself. Here’s how it’s done.
How to Make Ham Broth in the Crockpot
Spices: peppercorns, salt, bay leaves, etc.
What You Do:
Pick off any remaining ham, and set it aside for sandwiches (this ham salad is a winner). Reserve the ham bone and any skin for your broth.
Roughly chop some celery, carrots and onion to include in your broth. I used two celery stalks, two carrots and a large onion. The veggie ends can go in too, since you’ll be straining the vegetables out later.
Place your ham bone and vegetables in the crockpot, and add enough water to completely cover them. Also add any spices that you’d like to include (salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, etc.). I just add six or seven peppercorns and a couple bay leaves. Ham usually has plenty of salt and seasonings to flavor the broth.
Then, cover, and cook on high for 8-10 hours. Longer is even better. I cooked the broth in the photo for 24 hours because I wanted it to be really flavorful. You’ll know your broth is done when it has developed a deep golden color and a rich flavor.
Note: When I cook broth for longer than 10 hours, I drop the temp down to low for the remainder of the time. If your broth starts to boil, just crack the lid a teeny bit to allow the steam to escape.
Strain the ham bone, veggies and spices from your broth. I used to use a cheesecloth-lined colander for this, but I’ve since discovered something that works even better: paint strainer bags. They’re fine mesh bags that painters use to prepare paint for use in a sprayer. You can pick them up at a home improvement store or paint store for a couple dollars. I like them because they’re easier to clean than cheesecloth, and because they have an elastic top that holds them firmly in place, while you’re pouring.
But don’t feel like you have to have special equipment to strain broth. A slotted spoon will certainly do the job.
Allow your strained broth to cool a bit. Then, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This will give the fat time to separate from the broth.
Pull the broth out in the morning, and there will be a hard shell of fat sitting on the top. Just skim it off with a spoon, and your broth is ready to use. If you prefer, you can use a fat separator to de-fat the broth while it’s still hot. I just find this easier.
Your broth will look gelatinous when it comes out of the fridge, and that’s a good thing. When you cook bone broth long enough, the collagen gets released from the bones, causing it to gel. That’s added nutrition that you won’t get from store-bought broth. As soon as you heat it up, your broth will turn into a liquid again.
Refrigerate your finished broth, and use it within a week, or pour it into freezer-safe jars or containers, and freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Frozen broth will keep indefinitely, but is best if used within three months.
This is what I store my broth in. They’re Arrow Stor-Keeper quart freezer containers. They stack beautifully, and they’re BPA-free. I used to buy them at Wal-mart, but I couldn’t find them the last time I looked, so now I get them on Amazon.
Short on Time? Freeze your ham bone, and make broth when you have more time.
- Ham bone
- Spices: peppercorns, salt, bay leaves, etc.
Roughly chop the veggies. Two celery stalks, two carrots and a large onion is about right. The ends can go in, too.
Stick your ham bone in a large crockpot. Add the veggies and spices.
Cover completely with water.
Put the lid on, and cook on high for 8-10 hours, or until the broth has developed a deep golden color and a rich flavor.
Strain your broth; allow it to cool a bit; then refrigerate it overnight.
Skim the fat off the top, in the morning.
Then, pour it into freezer-safe containers, if you won’t be using it right away.
How to Use Ham Broth
Use your ham broth to …
- make soup. It’s the perfect base for both split pea soup and bean-based soups
- cook beans, rice and lentils. Just use it in place of the cooking water
- flavor greens and mashed potatoes
Where to Get Ham Bones
Ham broth is my absolute favorite broth, so in addition to making broth from my holiday hams, I also buy ham bones specifically for making broth. Honey Baked Ham is my go-to source for this. They frequently run buy-one-get-one-free ham bone deals when their freezers get overstocked.