Search for "bone broth in slow cooker" on Pinterest, and you'll realize a lot of people are saving the instructions to make this nutritious hot beverage. Making it in the slow cooker is a smart way to do it because it needs to simmer for a long time to extract all the nutrition from the bones, and not everyone has the ability to watch a pot on the stove for eight or more hours.

If you take a look at various recipes for making bone broth in the slow cooker, you'll see the ingredients are usually similar — leftover bones (usually beef, chicken or turkey), the classic holy trinity of soup vegetables: carrots, celery and onion, perhaps some garlic, herbs like parsley, oregano and bay leaves, salt, pepper, and water.

These are the basic ingredients people have been using to make stock for a very long time. In fact, the bone broth that's the darling of the paleo diet for its nutrients is technically stock, not broth — at least according to Alton Brown. Stock is made from bones. Broth is made from meat. Perhaps because the alliteration of bone broth is catchier than the non-alliterated bone stock, the current trendy liquid made from bones is known as broth.

The addition of apple cider vinegar

Whatever the correct technical culinary name is, it's made using all the traditional bones, vegetables and seasonings, plus one additional ingredient that many recipes call for to help draw out the nutrients from the bones: apple cider vinegar. Any vinegar could be used, but apple cider vinegar is most common because its flavor works well with the broth.

General directions for slow cooker bone broth

  1. Place the leftover bones from beef, chicken or turkey in a slow cooker. (Some recipes call for roasting the bones first. It will caramelize them and give them more flavor, but it shouldn't make a difference as far as nutrients go.)
  2. Add a couple of cut up carrots, celery stalks and quartered onions. The carrots and onions don't even have to be peeled because they will be removed from the broth in the end, and the skins have added nutrients.
  3. Add any other ingredients like garlic, mushrooms or herbs that you want. They aren't necessary, but they'll impart additional flavor.
  4. Cover with cold water.
  5. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
  8. Remove all solid pieces and then strain the broth through a sieve into containers. Allow to cool then refrigerate or freeze.

This video from Allrecipes shows the basic method of making bone broth in the slow cooker, although it doesn't use apple cider vinegar as an ingredient.

Nutrients in bone broth

Humans who drink bone broth get a boost to their own bone and joint health from the calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin and other minerals in bone broth, plus hair and nails gain strength from the gelatin in the broth. The collagen in the broth can improve the condition of skin.

Once made, this broth can be heated and sipped like a cup of tea, or it can be used as the base to make a soup like Garden Vegetable Soup if you made chicken bone broth or flavorful pho if you made beef bone broth.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

How to make bone broth in the slow cooker
It's easy work to extract all the nutrients from the bones in a slow cooker, especially if you use one important ingredient.