Bone broths have sustained people all over the globe for thousands of years, and are a foundational component of any cooking done in the kitchen.
Whether it’s daily nourishment or needing a boost when trying to get over a cold or flu during the winter months, bone broths are the ultimate way to provide healing and feed the body. Just what the doctor should order, home made broths from the bones of animals, birds, and fish are one of the most incredibly healthy substances you can eat.
These foods are rich in amino acids to support natural detoxification in the body’s cells, and are mineral-dense: they contain magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, silicon and trace minerals. These nutrients support immunity, digestion, joint and bone maintenance.
The marrow, found inside the bones themselves is absolutely loaded with vital nutrients also critical for good health. Broths are a good source of an incredibly healthy protein – gelatin. A home made broth is incredibly abundant in amino acids to support natural detoxification in the body’s cells. It also contains material from broken down cartilage and tendons such as glucosamine which aids in joint issues and arthritis. Broths are one of, if not the single most important, source of digestible minerals for the human body.
In our culture, attention to home-procured foods like broth has fallen away over the last 50 or more years. But the rich, buttery flavor of bone broths can’t be beat to add just the right touch to a variety of dishes, and should be considered a staple of all kitchens.
The author of Nourishing Traditions – Sally Fallon Morell -discusses the essential support provided by bone broths in our diets. The reason you want to create broths from scratch out of beef, chicken, and fish bones is that the quality of these home-brewed concoctions is far superior to anything you’ll find in the store. Commercial broths and soups don’t contain the same level of nutrients because the sources are usually from animals and birds raised on factory farms. They are loaded with chemicals, MSG, and other additives which don’t contribute to health – and could actually make you sick.
Here are 9 reasons to make bone broth:
- Braising vegetables – create a braising liquid with bone broth by combining a blend of olive oil and ghee or butter. Add herbs like sage, rosemary, or oregano.
- Baste meat for roasting – brush or spoon over your meat with delicious bone broths combined with olive oil and/or butter or ghee during the cooking process, multiple times.
- Soups, sauces, marinades, salsas, gravies, home-made baby food – uses are endless!
- Cook rice in broth – rice is more digestible, as well as delicious, prepared in bone broth.
- Cook vegetables in broth – vegetables will be tastier and easier to digest with a healthy bone broth to accompany it.
- Drink as a remedy for a cold, flu, or other illness – broths are incredibly healing and provide nutrients your body needs when fighting off an illness or infection.
- Cost effective – buying broths in the can or jar is an expensive proposition. In contrast, making your own broth is incredibly affordable and sustainable. It’s a great way to implement “nose-to-tail” eating in your home. Just by saving bones and fat from meals you make, you can spend much less money on a nutritious broth.
- Healthier alternative to store-bought – most store-bought stock comes from animals or birds in environments you’ll want to avoid – they are in confinement, administered antibiotics and hormones, and provided with toxic and inappropriate types of feed – corn, soy, grains, and silage. The typical fowl or livestock animal on a factory-farm environment doesn’t get the quality of care or nutrients as its grass-fed or pasture-raised counterpart.
- Easy to make – use leftover bones, head, or carcass of any meal you’ve made from beef, chicken, turkey, duck, pork, game meats, ham, or fish. And soak in filtered water for an hour or so with a bit of raw apple cider vinegar to draw out the minerals. Add vegetables like onions, celery, carrots (also known in French as Mirepoix – the foundation of hundreds of traditional French recipes, named after the the cook the Duc de Levis-Mirepoix who lived in the 18th century).
Recipe for bone broth (large batch)
- 2 – 4 pounds of beef bones – tails, knuckle bones, and marrow
- 2- 3 onions, diced
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 calf’s foot, coarsely chopped (optional) – this provides a thicker stock which requires less reduction
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 2- 3 celery stalks, diced
- Cold, filtered water – enough to rise above bones by at least 1/2 inch
- 2 – 3 pounds of bones with meat – neck, rib, tail, or backbone
- Real sea salt (you will salt to taste near the end)
- Parsley – 1 1/2 teaspoons dried or small bunch, fresh
- Thyme – 2 teaspoons (dried) or fresh, 2-3 sprigs
- Basil – 1 teaspoon
- Marjoram or oregano – 1 teaspoon
- Sage – 1 teaspoon
- chicken feet – yes, you heard that right. Chicken feet are full of glucosamine, collagen and important trace minerals. If you do find chicken feet, you’ll want to remove the outer layer of skin before use, and trim off the nails of the feet with strong kitchen shears or clippers. Rub salt on the feet and use boiling water to quickly scald the feet and then dunk in a bowl of ice water. Then you can remove the skin by peeling it off.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Take your tail, knuckle, and/or marrow bones, calf’s foot (if using), or chicken feet into a big stock pot. Alternatively, you can use a crock pot. Cover with water and add apple cider vinegar, cover, and allow to stand for 1/2 hour up to one hour. This draws the minerals out of the bones.
- Optional: place bones with meat in the oven to roast. After browning, add them to the stock pot or crock pot with the other bones.
- When meat bones have browned, add them to the pot with the marrow bones and knuckle.
- Now add in the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan and heat it over a high flame, poking at the stuck on bits with a wooden spoon until they come loose.
- Tip all this liquid into the pot, adding more water if you need to, to cover the bones. The liquid should not be any higher than an inch from the top of the pot.
- Allow the broth to come just to a boil, then skim the foam off the top with a spoon. Make certain your broth does not overheat because this can cause burning and an “off taste”.
- Turn the heat down to low on your stove or crock pot.
- Add thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano, or sage.
- Allow broth to simmer for at least 24 hours.
- About an hour or so before taking your broth off the heat, add sea salt to taste. About 20 minutes before taking off heat, add parsley.
- Use a pair of kitchen tongs to remove bones. Strain broth into a large bowl using a sieve or cheesecloth.
- Allow broth to cool in the refrigerator. Skim the fat off the top once this process is finished to remove impurities from stock – usually overnight is fine.
- Use what you need for the present, and separate broth into smaller containers (see cooking tips below).
Bone Broth cooking tips:
Save bones from all meat and poultry you eat. If you don’t have enough for a broth, save bones in a freezable container such as a non-BPA plastic bag. Each time you make meals, add your bones to the bag until you have enough to make a broth.
Buy organic and sustainable meats and poultry. Check with your local farmer or health food store and inquire about farming practices used. Meats should be from animals on pasture and free from hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics. Poultry should also be on pasture and free from antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals.
If you use plastic bags, use broth up within a few weeks to avoid freezer burn. If you use glass containers, broth keeps longer in the freezer – up to 6 months.
To avoid thawing and refreezing, save bone broth in small containers to freeze for ease of use later. Many recipes only call for small amounts (like 1/2 to 1 cup) of broth, so freezing in small amounts will make your broth last longer and more convenient to use.
Here are some bags that are BPA-free:
- BestYet Clear Plastic Wrap
- Glad Cling Wrap
- Glad Food Storage Bags
- Glad Freezer Bags
- Glad Sandwich Bags
- Hefty Baggies
- Hefty OneZip Slider Bags
- Saran Cling Plus
- Ziploc Bags
- Ziploc Double Guard Freezer Bags
Even though these plastic bags do not contain BPA, allow your broth to cool off before storing in plastic containers so you’ll minimize any chance of leeching.