9 Reasons to Make Bone Broth

Bone broth makes great soup!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Soups, sauces, marinades, salsas, gravies, home-made baby food – uses are endless!
  4. Cook rice in broth – rice is more digestible, as well as delicious, prepared in bone broth.
  5. Cook vegetables in broth – vegetables will be tastier and easier to digest with a healthy bone broth to accompany it.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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)

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Optional:

  • 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.

Directions:

  • 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.

Or try these great glass containers from Pyrex, The Container Store , and  Anchor Hocking. Ceramic and stainless steel are also good choices.

47 Comments

  • December 20, 2010 - 4:40 PM | Permalink

    Excellent Raine! I love bone broth :) We have been getting yummy beef marrow bones from a local ranch, and we usually roast a chicken and make chicken broth at least once a week. I usually salt my broth (both for taste and to help keep it from going bad) and keep in quart sized mason jars in the fridge. Once you’re in the habit of using it, especially in the winter, you’ll use it up long before it has a chance to go bad :)

  • Patty
    December 20, 2010 - 8:07 PM | Permalink

    I find that the layer of fat keeps the broth good much longer in the fridge. Once the fat layer is gone or broken though the broth goes bad within a few days. I pour my hot broth into quart jars so that they will each get sealed with a nice layer of fat.

  • December 20, 2010 - 8:44 PM | Permalink

    Hi Cara – I am hoping to implement the GAPS diet for my son in the new year, but I’ve been getting a lot of opposition from him and some from my husband. The other problem is that my son goes to his friend’s houses to play or goes to my parents’ and they usually don’t feed him the same way we do. I am hoping to make broths a daily part of our GAPS diet protocol, so I’m trying to gear up so that I have bone broth going all the time and we’ll have some to drink every day. It’s proven to be a heck of a lot of work though, and I’m not sure we’ll even have enough bones to continually have broth going, and we eat a lot of meat in our house. I thought about making it up ahead of time, but the new year is approaching and we’ve been eating our broth on various foods in the meantime. So we just never seem to have enough. So you are right – we do use it up REALLY fast! It’s so good to have around, it’s definitely a staple. :)

  • December 20, 2010 - 8:46 PM | Permalink

    Hi Patty – thanks for your tip about leaving the layer of fat on the broth. I had thought I should leave it on the broth the first few times I made it some years ago, but then I kept reading everywhere (even from people preparing their foods traditionally) to skim off the fat. I figured the fat had impurities in it from cooking off the broth. But I’ll have to try that next time, thanks! :)

  • Gretchen
    March 27, 2011 - 2:05 PM | Permalink

    You can keep stock/broth on hand longer in the fridge if you bring it to a rolling boil three or four days after it’s made. That will keep it from going bad for another three to four days. In theory you can keep doing this, but I prefer to reduce and freeze it if I want to keep it around longer than a week, personally.

    It freezes very well in glass canning jars but you want to leave good headroom so they don’t crack.

    Lined cupcake trays are great for freezing small portions. After they’re frozen you can wrap the “pucks” in foil, stack them in bags, or stack them in jars. I prefer to use foil cupcake liners for this as they’re easier to separate from the broth later. They’re a lot easier to handle than ice cube trays of broth. This works really well for other things, like pesto, caramelized onions, lemon juice… anything where you might want a small portion. If it’s acidic I use paper cups rather than foil.

    I toss veggie bits into my stock scrap container as well as bones. Onion and garlic skins and ends, parsley stems, winter squash guts, ginger peel… it gets use out of every little bit. I normally don’t peel potatoes but if I do, they go into the stock pot, too. Just don’t put crucifers in as they can make the stock bitter. If I have a lot of extra dill, parsley, and/or cilantro stems I might make an herb broth just from those, which is nice for sipping or making rice with or adding to a meat broth for a different flavor. It’s not as nutritious as bone stock but it makes use of a part that normally gets tossed. (I compost the vegetable parts of stock remains, too, but I don’t have a big enough garden to bury the bone parts.)

    • April 12, 2011 - 3:46 PM | Permalink

      Hi Gretchen – thanks for your comments and tips, very much appreciated! Glad you are using the magical bone broth. It’s entirely too awesome. :)

  • March 27, 2011 - 4:45 PM | Permalink

    Hi Rainie baby! I make bone broth all the time! I don’t roast mine and I make it in the crock pot and it comes out GREAT! I go through at least 3 or 4 quarts a week. So good for you! Gonna share this on my baby steps to a rockin’ life because it is so easy and makes such a huge difference in your life! hugs! Alex

    • April 12, 2011 - 3:45 PM | Permalink

      Hi Alex – sorry I’m so slow to reply, thanks for your comments! I love bone broth, make at least one or two batches a week. Thanks for sharing this on your Baby Steps to a Rockin’ Life. I have been meaning to contribute to this great feature…I’ve just been scatterbrained and super busy! Hugs to you too, hope you are doing great! :)

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    March 27, 2011 - 11:02 PM | Permalink

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    • April 2, 2011 - 9:08 AM | Permalink

      Sally – there is a share link on the page to enable you to share this on FB and other social media. Can you see it?

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  • Gayle Spears
    August 22, 2011 - 9:46 PM | Permalink

    I like to add a little turmeric and/or rosemary to my stock, especially to help preserve it. It really seems to make a difference. Both are very good preservatives and can be added to other things, too, such as black-eyed peas, picnic foods, etc. (anything you want to keep from spoiling …for a week or so in the fridge). I especially like the taste of the rosemary and the turmeric gives a nice rich (buttery?) color (especially nice for chicken broth, I think.) If you haven’t used these before… I would just start with 1/4 teaspoon or so and see how you like it.

  • December 16, 2011 - 6:04 AM | Permalink

    Hey, I think that I heard Dr Campbell-McBride say that you could make good broth several times from the same bones. Has anyone else heard this or did I just fall asleep while she was talking and imagine this?

    • December 16, 2011 - 7:24 AM | Permalink

      Hi Allan – I did see one of Dr. McBride’s lectures, and I didn’t hear her say that during the one I attended, but I wouldn’t doubt it because now I’ve heard this from multiple sources. I have the GAPS book too and haven’t come across that information, but if she recommends this it would be good to make sure it’s a more well-known piece of information as I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate knowing they could save $$ this way and stretch out their bones longer. I actually have been keeping my broth on the stove for 3-5 days at a time now (mostly because I hate taking it off the stove every night and putting it in the refrigerator if I’m just going to take it out again the next day and use it all day again anyway). I’ve found that I can just keep adding water to it again, bring it to a boil, and add anything else in that’s necessary again such as more herbs/spices, salt, pepper, ghee or butter, and a bit more ACV. Love broth!

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  • Sally
    October 6, 2012 - 4:12 PM | Permalink

    Would canning hurt it? I’d have to make large batches to make it worth my time and I have limited freezer space.

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  • May 6, 2013 - 1:35 PM | Permalink

    Why do you have to skin the chicken feet? Clip the nails? I have never heard that and have always used them as us
    Peace
    T

    • May 7, 2013 - 11:23 AM | Permalink

      There are many recommendations from different sources about clipping toenails and remove the skin – some people do it, and some don’t. One way to remove extra toxins or impurities on birds, which collect in the toenails and skin. If you don’t want to do this step, then don’t worry about it.

  • May 6, 2013 - 5:49 PM | Permalink

    What size pot do you need to make such a large broth ?

    • May 7, 2013 - 11:22 AM | Permalink

      Beck – I’d recommend at least an 8 quart or larger stock pot for a good sized quantity of broth. I make broth so often I found that I needed an even larger pot and so now I also have a 12 quart pot as well.

  • Marie
    May 7, 2013 - 4:00 PM | Permalink

    Quick question- Ive used beef bones and chicken carcass with a good amount of meat on it. After the stock/broth is cooked, can the meat be separated and eaten with soup? Or does it have to be thrown out- seems like such a waste?

    • May 7, 2013 - 10:39 PM | Permalink

      Marie – Yes, absolutely. You can use the meat for soup, sandwiches, casserole, eaten cold, or whatever you want. Just don’t cook it too long as that can result in meat that might taste off. I’d remove any chicken meat that’s been on in the pot before 24 hours passes, and with beef no more than about 36 hours (sometimes you can get away with longer). But the longer it sits past its prime, the worse it will smell/taste.

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