Bone broth has become a staple in my household. I use it in my soups and stews, add it to my veggie stir-fry, and have even been known to drink a cup of broth on a really cold day.
When I first started cooking more, I relied on the boxes of broth I could keep in my pantry until a recipe called for it. While those boxes are good in a pinch, I started looking at all of the ingredients that added. Did you know that some brands include sugar or dextrose? What? Why does bone broth need sugar?!?
I wanted to control more of what went into my bone broth, and I’d heard how easy it was to make your own without all the ‘extra’ stuff. So, one year after Thanksgiving, I decided to boil all of the carcasses (we’d cooked four turkeys that year!!!) on the stove. I had a huge roasting pan and added the bones and water and proceeded to simmer it for two days. My house smelled amazing!
Once finished, I had almost 3 gallons of broth! Yikes!
Luckily, I had a few empty ice trays, some mason jars, as well as some quart-sized baggies, so I was able to freeze a lot of it. After that, there was no going back! I’ve learned some tricks to making a great tasting, gelatinous bone broth that I use for all kinds of things in my kitchen.
Benefits of Bone Broth
You might be wondering why you should even use bone broth. Cultures around the world have made and used bone broth for centuries, and most consume some form of it daily for its affordability and nutrient density.
Bone broth is a concentrated liquid that derives its minerals, calcium, phosphorous, and collagen from slowly simmering bones of all kinds. Bone broth can be made with any type of bone (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish, moose, etc.) and there are many different ways to make it.
The health benefits of bone broth may include improved digestion, reduced allergies, boosted immunity, decreased inflammation, decreased joint pain, as well as healing the common cold!
I personally use it to help when I’m feeling a little stiff, or I feel a cold starting. I also use my home-made bone broth to make my breakfast soup, which I try to eat 3-4x/week for breakfast.
You can read more about this on my blog post, Soup for Breakfast.
Helpful Tips when Making Bone Broth
There are so many different ways to make bone broth. You really can’t mess it up! Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years:
Since you will be making a concentrated form of minerals and vitamins from the bones, make sure you are using good quality bones from grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, pasture-raised pig, or wild-caught fish.
A good way to acquire bones is to save them as you’re using them. My family knows to never throw away bones after dinner! We put them in a container in the freezer, and once it’s full, I make a batch of bone broth. If you don’t have enough this way, you can always get broth bones from me! 😊
Some people like to make separate broths for each type of bone. I’ve found I can’t really tell the difference in taste, so I just make ‘broth’! If I’m using the bones from the freezer, one batch could include beef, chicken, and pork bones.
Another important ingredient you’ll need is a good source of natural Apple Cider Vinegar with the ‘mother.’ The vinegar makes the minerals and vitamins more available in the broth, improving the nutrient-density. I like to use Bragg Natural Apple Cider Vinegar, but any brand should work.
I save my vegetable scraps (onion skins, tops of celery) in the freezer to add to my broth. These don’t impact the flavor too much, but it does add some additional nutrients to the broth. I don’t usually add carrots or other flavorful vegetables here since I don’t want the flavor to be too intense.
To make your broth really gelatinous, add chicken feet! I know this sounds weird, but chicken feet have tons of collagen, which goes into the broth. If you have joint issues, you definitely need to add chicken feet. Your joints will thank you!
I don’t usually add salt or other seasonings to my broth. Mainly because I’m not sure how I’ll be using the broth. I wait until I use the broth before flavoring.
If I’m using beef or pork, and I have time, I like to roast my bones for 30-40 minutes in a HOT oven (450) to help enrich the flavor. This step is not necessary though!
Bone Broth Recipe
2-3 lbs Broth Bones
1 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
Water to fill up your container
**Onion or celery if using
Add bones, vegetables, apple cider vinegar to your pot and cover the bones with water.
InstantPot directions: Close the lid and steam vent, and set the manual time to 100 minutes. Once the time is complete, let the pressure release naturally.
CrockPot directions: Close the lid and cook on to ‘Low’ for 18-24 hours.
Stove top directions: Cover the pot, bring to boil, and then set on low simmer for 18-24 hours. I put it on the back, smallest burner I have. You will need to check the water level periodically to make sure it doesn’t simmer down too much. Try not to add too much water, or you’ll dilute the broth.
Once the broth is done and it’s cooled a little, you’ll need to strain out the bones. I pour it through a strainer over another large stockpot. Make sure to not burn yourself!!
You can store the broth in the refrigerator up to a week, or put in smaller containers in the freezer.
Ways to freeze broth:
Old ice cube trays – this is great when you only need a small amount of broth! I freeze them and then add the ‘broth cubes’ to a large zip-lock bag. When I need some broth, I pull out 1-2 cubes and defrost in a bowl.
Glass jars: I’d use mason jars as they’re more durable! Make sure to not fill them too full or they will crack when freezing. When removing from the freezer, be careful to not crack the glass. I usually put them in refrigerator to defrost slowly, or on a towel on the counter. Don’t immediately put in cold water or the glass will crack. (yes, it’s happened to me!)
Plastic bags: While not the most ideal, I’ve filled up quart-sized baggies with 2 cups of broth. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet, and stick in the freezer. Once frozen, you can stack them and it doesn’t take up as much room. Make sure to use the cookie sheet, or you could have broth all over your freezer if/when a bag leaks. (yes, it’s happened to me!)
Have you made your own bone broth? What’s your favorite way to use bone broth? Do you have any other tips I can add to this? Please leave me a comment and let me know your bone broth making secrets!!