In healthy food communities you’ve probably heard a lot about broth, stock and bone broth, and the terms are often used interchangeably. Bone broth, broth and stock are built on the same basic foundation: water, meat or bones (or both), vegetables and seasonings. The difference with bone broth is really the duration of time that you cook it. While broth and stock are cooked anywhere from 45 minutes to 4 or 5 hours, bone broths are typically simmered for a long period of time, often in excess of 24-hours.
Why so long? The purpose of the long simmering process to make bone broth is to release the minerals literally held inside the collagen-rich joints and bones of the animal. At the end of cooking, the bones will crush and crumble at your fingertips, having released all their strength and goodness into the broth.
As you can see, bone broths are extraordinarily rich in protein, and can be an excellent source of minerals as well. Some of the many benefits of bone broth include support of the bodies detoxification process, digestion and the secretion of gastric acids. Bone broths are also rich in gelatin, which may support skin health. If you’ve ever wondered why chicken soup is good for a cold, there’s science behind that, too. Chicken broth helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections. So great, right?! And the best part: it’s easy and very inexpensive to make!
What you will need:
All you need is a basic stockpot, a strainer, bones, vegetables and water. Bones are often discarded at slaughter and you can purchase them for under $2/lb. Or you can do what I do and make my own from the carcasses of a roast chicken or turkey. One roast chicken usually makes about 5 quarts of broth. A large turkey (say after Thanksgiving) can make over a dozen! That’s a huge cost savings when you look at purchasing organic broth, of which you have no control of what is in it!
How to cook bone broth:
After dinner I’ll remove most of the meat from the carcass, leaving bits hanging on the bones and place it in a stockpot. I have a stockpot with a built-in strainer, which I love for this process, but you can strain it later too. Over the course of the week or month cooking, I save vegetable scraps that would go great in my broth. If I have a little bit of celery left over, the cuttings from onions and carrots, the discarded stems of asparagus, garlic, etc, I place them in small ziplock bags in my freezer. Then when I’m ready with a carcass to make broth, I already have bags of vegetables to add. Throw in favorite herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage, and salt and pepper, cover with water and cook overnight and into the next day.
There really isn’t a recipe for bone broth, but rather a basic process. You get to decide what goes in it using whatever you have on hand, or whatever you love. I usually cook mine for about 24 hours.
How to use bone broth:
There are people who drink bone broth, but I mostly use mine for cooking. I’ll add it to soups or use it as the base to cook my favorite grains like quinoa or farro.
Storing bone broth:
I typically strain and store my broth in canning jars in the freezer, but be careful to leave room for it to expand so it doesn’t break your jars. It will keep in the refrigerator, but no more than a week. You can also transfer your broth to ice cube trays, freeze, and incorporate in smaller dishes throughout your week.
I always have bone broth on hand to add nutrients and flavor to our food. It’s a great way to make use of the whole animal, while also nourishing your family really well. It’s a good thing.
Do you already make bone broth? What do you add to yours?