A food dehydrator can come in quite handy in achieving your food goals, whether you are a homesteader searching for ways to be more self-sufficient, a health food nut trying to find food with as few additives as possible, or a preparedness-minded person looking for shelf-stable ways to store foods long term.
Homemade stocks, broths, and bouillons tend to be much healthier than store-bought versions. Whether poultry and meat-based or vegetable-based, some form of MSG, an additive used for flavor enhancement, is often present in items purchased from a grocery store. In addition, if food allergies are present in your family, it may be difficult to find a product that will work well for you. The healthier versions available on the market tend to be expensive (and still questionable as far as their content). Learning how to make your own shelf-stable product is a good way to solve many of these problems. You control exactly what goes into it, you will preserve much of the nutritive value of the broth, and you will have another method of food preservation under your belt that you can apply to other foods.
Another reason for making your own dry bone broth mix is ease of use and portability. If you travel, you can bring the dehydrated bone broth with you when you fly and not have to worry about checking in a liquid. If you or someone in your household has a sudden illness and you do not have any bone broth handy in the refrigerator, the dehydrated version can be quickly and easily reconstituted and consumed as needed. Dehydrated foods, as a rule, are lightweight and easy to carry on your person with little strain to have on hand in case a need arises. Those with food restrictions may find dehydrated bone broth to be handy during those times they are away from home. Hot water is usually readily available in restaurants and homes, and an emergency “meal” of a cup of broth can hold one over until they can find more substantial, safe sustenance.
Considerations When Making Bone Broth Specifically For Dehydrating
Dehydrating your own bone broth begins with making the bone broth. If you are making bone broth with the intent to eventually dehydrate it, use water as sparingly as possible. Cover your ingredients completely in your pot, but don’t go overboard with the water. If you do, this will only mean more time and energy used to reduce the broth.
So, you have your finished pot of broth. Now what?
How To Dehydrate Broth
What you will need:
- Pot (as wide an opening as possible)
- Cheesecloth (optional)
- Dehydrator (such as an Excalibur)
- Paraflexx sheets or similar solid, food-safe cover for your dehydrator trays (Parchment paper will work in a pinch)
- Blender, food processor, spice grinder, or similar pulverizing tool
- Jar or other airtight container for storage
1. Strain your broth. You want your broth to have as few solids as possible, so it is good to lay a piece of cheesecloth in your strainer to catch more of the little bits that might otherwise slip through.
2. Chill your broth in the refrigerator. Overnight works best. Once chilled, the fat will rise to the top, solidify, and be much easier to remove. Remove it and set it aside for another use or discard.
3. Pour your broth into your pot. For our purposes, the wider the pot the better, since we are aiming to evaporate most of the liquid and cook it down.
4. Bring your broth to a boil and continue boiling as it reduces. Be sure to check on it frequently. Reduce heat as you see it getting thicker. I like to think that it’s better to have it on a lower heat and have it take a bit longer to cook down than to get in a hurry, put it on a higher heat, and then get distracted and come back to a ruined project. Use your own judgment based on your own situation and distractibility factors (such as small children).
5. Once the broth starts getting to the consistency of gravy, remove it from heat and allow it to cool just enough to handle. If it forms a skin like gravy does when cooling, that’s a good sign that it is ready to dehydrate. Keep in mind, though, that if you allow it to cool down too much, it will be more difficult to evenly spread.
6. Spread the broth as thinly and evenly as possible on the solid, non-mesh dehydrator sheets. A large spatula helps to keep the level consistent. Place the trays in the dehydrator and set on high heat.
7. Dehydrate until the broth is completely dried. Check on it after twenty-four hours. It may be slightly tacky, especially in the places where it is spread thicker. This is why it’s important to spread evenly. Dry it until all parts are completely dry and brittle. The time it takes will vary with the humidity level in your drying space, how thinly the broth is spread, and the amount of liquid remaining in your broth. It could easily take a couple of days to get to the completely finished state.
8. Once full dryness is achieved, allow it to cool. Break up the fully dehydrated broth, place the pieces into your blender, and blend into a powder. If you do not have a very powerful blender, some pieces might be stubborn and not want to be pulverized. You can still use these in a broth; they will just take some stirring and more time to dissolve than the powder.
9. Place the powder into a jar or other airtight container and store. At this point, you may want to add a food-safe nitrogen packet or oxygen absorber to help prevent the finished product from turning into a block of broth powder. I have been known to salvage these packets and cylindrical absorbers from vitamin or supplement bottles or other foods, such as beef jerky. I find these especially helpful when living in a humid part of the country. If you are located in an arid region, you probably won’t have to worry about the packet.
10. To reconstitute, use one teaspoon of dehydrated broth powder to make one cup of bone broth. Use more or less to taste and add salt to taste.
Ways To Use Dehydrated Bone Broth
1. As a soup base.
2. As a warm pick-me-up when you feel you are fighting an illness.
3. Add to rice as it is cooking.
4. Instead of blending, the dehydrated bone broth can be broken into pieces and eaten as a savory snack.
5. Sprinkle on popcorn for a savory treat.
If you have dehydrated your own bone broth, what other ways have you used it? Please share your ideas and experience!
©2012 Off the Grid News