Making Bone Broth at Home
I told you yesterday about all the Amazing Benefits of Bone Broth, so today I knew I had to tell you how to make it yourself!
As an acupuncturist, drinking bone broth is one of the single most frequent nutritional suggestions I make to my patients. I drink it myself every morning. While I believe most other aspects of diet should be tailored to a specific person’s needs and constitution, bone broth is one of the few things that nearly everyone should include in their daily diet. However, it is often difficult to convince Americans to make their own broth when most of us are conditioned for convenience. I’m here to tell you it’s not that hard! And definitely worth the effort, especially when you use kitchen scraps to make broth, it one of the more affordable ways to stay healthy.
If you aren’t up for the effort of making it yourself, I still highly recommend getting your hands on some bone broth because of all its health benefits. Search your neighborhood for a deli or specialty grocery store that makes their own.
Choosing Your Bones
First things first, I always recommend the highest quality ingredients when it comes to animal products, that means zero use of antibiotics, growth hormones or GMO feed. Animals should be raised on pasture and they should not be grain fed, especially cows which should graze on grass. If you start with poor quality bones you are going to get poor quality broth, in which case I wouldn’t recommend using it medicinally.
I most often make chicken broth after roasting a whole chicken, and with Thanksgiving coming up you can try this method out on your turkey leftovers!
Once all the meat is removed from the bird I use the bones as well as the carcass to make the broth. I think this is the best place to start if you’ve never make bone broth before. (Note: when poultry comes with the neck, liver and kidneys inside I will also use those in the broth, but that is optional.)
Any other time I cook meat with bones in it I will often use them to make a broth, including ribs, duck legs, pork chops or roasts. Keep in mind if the bone is small or doesn’t have much connective tissue on it then you won’t get much broth out of it. I don’t usually cook whole fish, but if you do you can also use fish bones and heads to make a broth.
If you don’t cook much meat on the bone then you can get bones just for making broth with, this will also help make a more concentrated broth. Big bones from cows, pigs and lambs are particularly good for making broth because bigger bones contain more bone marrow. You can get these from a whole animal butcher or from certain farmers markets, they may be called stew bones, dog bones or beef knuckles. I like to use grassfed beef knuckles that I get from Novy Ranches at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
The Other Ingredients
If you are putting on a pot of broth during a big prep day or while a making dinner, then you can often use veggie trimmings that you would normally throw away, things like onion roots and skin, carrot tops and skins or celery trimmings. Just avoid adding starchy veggies, like potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes, as they will make the broth thick. And I’ve found the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccili, kale, collards) can get a funky smell to them when cooked for a long time.
Herbs like bay leaf, oregano, parsley, basil, cilantro, cumin and coriander are all great additions. You can use fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand just keep in mind dried herbs have concentrated flavor so you don’t need as much.
You don’t need to add much salt while cooking, you can wait until the broth is cooked to add salt to taste. And keep in mind that you need some form of acid to help extract many of the minerals in the bones.
I usually use a lemon or lime for this but you can always use a touch of whatever vinegar you have on hand, only about a tablespoon is needed for a big batch. The vinegar is important for helping the protein and minerals break down and release from the bones.
Brewing It Up
I usually use a crock pot for making broth, so I can leave it on overnight without worrying about it. You can of course do this on the stove but you want to keep it on low so the broth doesn’t turn cloudy.
If you are using big bones then you’ll want to roast them beforehand (400F for 30min.) This helps to soften up the marrow and reduce any bitter flavor in the broth.
If at any point during cooking you notice a film forming at the top of the pot you want to skim it off with a large spoon and dispose of it. These are the toxins rising to the top and they make the broth taste awful if they cook in. I don’t find this is a problem in my slow cooker.
Small bones like poultry or fish only need at minimum a few hours, but ideally should be cooked for 24 hours. Bigger bones need a minimum of 6 hours, but I cook my beef bones for 72 hours (yes, 3 days!) If much of the water cooks off you can add more while it’s cooking, just remember you are diluting it, so if you want a really concentrated broth then don’t add too much water.
If you want to separate the fat out from the broth then at this point you can put the whole strained batch in the fridge and any fat will come to the surface and solidify so you can separate it out. Big bones will render a lot more fat than just a chicken carcass. I find a big batch of beef knuckles might render out nearly 16 ounces of tallow (save it as it’s great for cooking!) But for something like chicken broth that little layer of fat will melt right back into the broth, I don’t mind it at all once heated up again.
Broth keeps up to a week in the fridge but should be kept in the freezer for longer storage. I keep them in the freezer for several months and they keep fine.
I don’t go through all the steps to sterilize the jars and lids like you would for storing shelf stable jams and preserves, because I always keep broth in the fridge or freezer. Even if you did go through all the steps I don’t even know if you would be able to store broth at room temp.
Of course you can use bone broth in any soup, stew or sauce that you are making, it is also great for braising veggies. But that won’t necessarily get enough into your daily routine. It is traditional in many Asian cultures to have soup for breakfast, since it is so easily digested and because it helps our digestive energy to get started for the day. So bone broth in the morning is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
I make a kind of egg drop soup, which I like to call “breakfast soup,” by simply whisking up 2 raw eggs and slowly stirring them into some simmering broth until it has all cooked in. I often enjoy it as is, or I might then add in some cooked greens like spinach, kale or broccoli, but my new favorite thing is to add chopped up avocado once it has come off the heat. My “breakfast soup” leaves me satisfied but with a very happy and not-too-full belly. The protein and good fats usually keeps me going a few hours later through several hours of work and an intense workout.
You can also simply heat up a cup of plain broth and enjoy it by itself, sip it from a mug like tea! It makes for a light and warming snack, especially if you have an upset stomach or feel bloated but need something in your system.