Making Bone Broth at Home

Make Your Own Healing Bone Broth

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

Bone for BrothFirst 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

Making BrothA few key ingredients are all you need to fill out the flavor a bit, usually some combination of onion, garlic, some veggies, herbs, salt and some form of acid.

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

Making Bone BrothI 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.

 

Storage

Finished Bone BrothWhen the broth is done cooking, strain the whole batch once through a colander to get the biggest pieces out, then strain again through a fine sieve to remove smaller particles.

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.

 

Using It

Eggdrop Soup made with Bone BrothOf 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.

Comments

19 Responses to “Making Bone Broth at Home”
  1. Kent says:

    Hi Jacqueline,
    Just wanted to advise you to make sure you are using a good source of Fowl. The commercial business uses a steady stream of arsenic to keep the birds free of disease. So much so that after the 6 – 9 weeks maturity time to raise those birds to market, the manure is too saturated to use as Citrus Grove fertilizer more than once in 10 years.
    Also the birds liver becomes saturated, and the poison then settles in the bones. Thus boiling these birds down with their bones and livers may perhaps produce a gradual arsenic poisoning stew.
    So buy wisely.

    • Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac. says:

      Great advice Kent, thanks for commenting! Yes, I didn’t go into detail here but I always advise getting animal products come from quality sources as they an store toxins at much higher levels than plants can. I’ll be addressing it in an upcoming post for sure!

  2. Nicole B says:

    Hello – Just found you surfing the web. I’m delighted, I now put your site in my favorites.
    I want to start cooking bone broth… my old slow cooker is kind of small so I was looking…
    nicole B.

  3. Sacha says:

    Do you recommend where to get the bones from?

    • I do discuss that in the article, but in general make sure they are from organic, pasture-raised animals. If you’re using beef bones they should be from grassfed cows, check out your local farmers market and if you can’t find them there then Whole Foods should have them.

  4. Susan Young says:

    Hi Jacqueline, I knew you when I lived in the LA area and came to Abigail for acupuncture. I now live in Houston, TX and work as a postpartum doula. One of my clients would like me to make bone broth soup for her as part of her care-taking after baby arrives. I’m excited to get up to speed on bone broth soup making! I have a maybe silly question: for storing in the freezer, is it safe to use glass containers? The pictures in your blog show glass containers, but I think glass can burst in the freezer. Could you enlighten me? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Susan! Generally what I’ve found is that mason jars are quite resistant to breaking in the freezer as long as you leave the jar about 1 inch empty at the top before freezing. Every once in awhile I have one that cracks and I throw it out as I don’t want to risk a tiny bit of glass remaining in the liquid, but out of hundreds of jar I’ve only had that happen 3 or 4 times. As most plastic containers aren’t safe to freeze food in I consider a little bit of waste from a cracked jar worth it.

  5. Liz Stockmam says:

    Bone broth does not keep well when canned and on a shelf. It is low acid and has to be frozen to keep a long period of time.

  6. Lynne Parker says:

    Hello, I was wondering what you recommend as a good and sufficient dose of bone broth? Ie: 1 cup daily? Thanks

  7. sandie says:

    can one eat the vegetables you use when making the broth? I don’t understand why every site says to strain them out and dispose of them.

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