It might sound strange and even a little… eeew, but bone broth is one of the most nourishing foods you can feed your body.
When properly prepared, bone broth is rich in minerals, cartilage, collagen, amino acids, gelatin, and marrow in a form that is easy for our bodies to assimilate. This impressive nutritional assembly is one of the reasons broth is a common folk remedy for colds and flu. Research shows it helps diminish infectious disease and does wonders to improve immunity and heal digestion, even providing relief for digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, colitis, or Crohn’s disease among others.
Homemade bone broth is a powerful healer.
Bone broth has been a part of traditional diets for countless generations. Back when meat didn’t come deboned and packaged into easy-to-cook filets, our ancestors purchased meat on the bone or whole chickens and they made sure to use every last bit so that nothing went to waste. Resources were tight and using the bones after consuming meat helped stretch their investment for a few additional hearty meals.
The best part? It tastes amazing! Both flavorful and satisfying, bone broth is easy to love because it just tastes damn good.
Let’s make some bone broth!
The recipe below is for beef broth, but you can use the same process for chicken.
Obviously, you’ll need some good quality bones. Farmer’s market is a good place to start, as any stand that sells animal products will likely have some. An increasing number of neighborhood butchers are also beginning to offer bones. In either case, I highly recommend seeking out bones that came from naturally raised (“pasture-raised” or “grass-fed”) animals. This will result in the most nourishing broth without any harmful by-products of conventional farming.
In addition to buying bones, you could also use saved bones from cooked meats, such as the carcass after cooking a whole chicken, but I recommend using these in addition to the knuckle bones for the best flavor and consistency.
The best broth comes from a combination of bones, but in my experience the most essential types are knuckle bones. Beef knuckle bones are gigantic so you might be surprised the first time you see them, but it’s a good thing because one knuckle is enough to make a good amount of broth, plus it’s usually cheaper and more gelatin-rich than other varieties. Marrow bones are my other essential.
So here’s how to make it, I hope you like the amount of detail here. It sounds like a lot of work but I promise you’ll get the hang of it if you do this a few times, and you’ll find a way to easily work this in to your schedule.
-A collection of bones which can include 1 knuckle and a handful of marrow bones (preferably cut into 2-inch pieces), neck or feet bones, and any other small bones.
-Enough water to cover all the bones by 1-2 inches.
-1-2 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
-Various vegetable scrapings such as pieces of onion, garlic, carrot butts, broccoli stems, kale stalks, and any other non-leafy vegetables you have on hand. About 4 cups is an estimate but don’t worry about precise measurements here, throw in what you’ve got (optional, but recommended for flavor).
-A couple sprigs of thyme (optional)
You’ll also need:
A small strainer to skim the top of the broth.
A large strainer for transferring to storage.
A bag to put waste in when done.
Glass tupperware or jars to store your broth.
A bowl for the gelatinous solids released from the bones (this is also very nutritious).
1. Place all the bones in a large pot and add enough water to cover the topmost bone by 1-2 inches.
2. Add the apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. if you’ve filled a small/medium pot, 2 Tbsp. if you’ve filled a medium/large pot.
3. Let the bones, water, and ACV mixture sit for about 1 hour to allow the acid to draw out the minerals.
4. Turn on the heat, let it reach a boil, and then turn down to a simmer, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface.
5. Simmer for 12-24 hours (18 has been my perfect amount), less if your’e making chicken broth.
6. When you’re a few hours away from completion, skim off any scum at the top, and add your vegetables and thyme. Continue cooking.
7. When done with cooking, turn off the heat and let the broth cool for 1 hour.
8. Prepare your bag for waste, bowl for solids, and containers for the finished broth.
9. Use the tongs to first pull out any of the vegetables and put them in the waste bag.
10. Next, pull out any large gelatinous or meaty solids and place those in the bowl.
11. Now it’s time to pull out the bones. I recommend first pulling them and into your solids bowl, so that you can pull off any solids still attached, although they should mostly just slide right off if the broth cooked long enough. Once the bones are completely bare, place them in the waste bag. Continue until all the bones and solids have been removed from the pot.
12. To strain the broth, place your large strainer above above the funnel, and the funnel above your storage jar or tupperware, then pour the broth until the jar is almost full. Continue until you’ve strained all the broth. If any large solids come up in your strainer, transfer to your solids bowl, otherwise the remaining strained stuff can be tossed out.
13.Now you can add a small pinch of salt over the solids, and into each individual storage container, stirring it in. You’ll notice that the fat settles at the top and looks oily but don’t worry because it will harden in the fridge and you’ll be able to remove it later.
14. Place all the broth in the fridge, even what you plan to freeze. You can eat some of the solids right away while they’re still warm, or store them in the fridge as well. They will likely look pretty gross but they should taste good, and they’re definitely full of the same nutritious goodness as the broth itself.
15. Final step: After the broth has been refrigerated for at least an hour or overnight, you’ll see that the fat at the top has hardened and you can now remove it with a spoon. This can be used as a cooking fat, so move it to another storage container, freezing some if you have a large amount. Once you’ve removed this layer, if you’d like to freeze any of the broth itself you can do so at this point (just make sure you don’t freeze any broth in regular jars as they could crack upon defrosting, I recommend Pyrex glass storage for freezing).
When ready to eat your broth, simply heat some in a pot, and add some of your solids to make it a heartier meal. You can drink it by itself, or add to sauces or stews to add flavor. Consume the refrigerated amount within 5 days.
Whew! Was that fun or what? Give it a try and let me know how it goes, it’s totally worth the effort!