Bone broth. It is one of the most nourishing foods you can have, its health benefits are numerous, and it just so darn yummy! No wonder chicken soup is what Momma prescribes when you are sick! It is full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, silicon, sulfur, trace minerals, and more!
Nourishing Traditions, the WAPF bible on traditional eating, is the resource for making traditional bone broth. Who am I to think I can improve upon Sally Fallon’s recipe or method of making bone broth? So I am simply going to post her recipes here and give the tips and tricks I have learned from making lots of bone broth!
1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegarand all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
4 or more quarts cold filtered water
1/2 cup vinegar
3 onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
l bunch parsley
Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven.
When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.
Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours.
Here is my stock at 24 hours.
Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.
Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.
I am uncomfortable leaving my stovetop on for the length of time required to create a good gel in my stock (24-72 hours), particularly when I am sleeping or won’t be home. What can I do?
Good question – you actually have a couple of options! You can use your crock pot instead – simply find the best temperature option that gives you the perfect slow simmer (for my crock pot, it is on the low 8 hours setting) and just continually keep it on that setting for however long you are making the stock! Another option is to keep your stove on only when you are home/awake, turn it off when you leave or sleep, and then turn it back on when you return/awake, so that the cumulative number of hours that the stove is on equals the 24-72 hours! The only caveat on doing it this way is that every time you turn the stove back on, you must bring the broth up to a boil and skim the scum off the top before turning it back down to the slow simmer. So an example of how to do this:
Friday after work, about 5 pm: prepare stock, simmer until 11:00 pm. (6 hours) Turn off to go to sleep.
Saturday am: 7:00 am: boil, skim scum, simmer until 5:00 pm, turn off to leave house. (10 hours)
Saturday pm: 8:00 pm: return home, boil, skim scum, simmer until 11:00 pm. Turn off to go to sleep. (3 hours)
Sunday am: 11:00 am: return home, boil, skim scum, simmer until 11:00 pm. Turn off to go to sleep. (12 hours)
Total cooking time: 32 hours. Monday am: Bone broth should be sufficiently cooled. Remove and strain solids/bones, and store. Reuse bones until crumbly (2-4 times).
Another option is to make pressure cooker bone broth. I have never done this (although I plan to soon!), but Food Renegade has a great article about how it is done.
My stock won’t gel! Why not?
There are a couple reasons your stock won’t gel. You could have your heat too high (see video about the perfect simmering heat!), your water:bone ratio could be off (see recipe – don’t use too much water!), you could be missing the vital bones that provide the collagen that gel the stock (you need a variety of bones, including marrow, knuckle, and feet bones), you forgot the vinegar soaking at the beginning of the process, or you could be using a conventionally raised (CAFO) animal. CAFO chickens and cows typically won’t provide the collagen to get your stock to gel. If your stock isn’t gelling, you can add grass fed bovine gelatin to your stock to get the necessary gel.
What does the perfect simmering heat look like?
I’m glad you asked! Here is a video of my beef bone broth at the perfect simmer – not too hot, not too cool.
How should I store my bone broth?
I store mine in both plastic and glass containers in the freezer. If I have enough jars clean, I will pour it into the glass jars and leave about an inch headspace, then freeze the jars. I also store mine in big plastic jugs (as seen in the first picture and above) because I make so much that I just can’t fit it all in jars – I would have 50 jars in the deep freezer of just stock! I know, I know, plastic is horrible! But I just can’t feasibly store it all in glass. I label the container with the date and type of stock and just pull it out into the fridge when I need it.
Do you skim/keep the fat?
I will skim the fat to use it for cooking if I need it, but typically I just leave it on there because it provides nice protection from the air (airtight!) and it also gives good flavor to whatever meal I’m using the stock for. Animal fats are saturated and so good for you – I never, ever discard the fat!
How do you use the veggie and meat scraps afterwards?
You have a couple options for the veggie scraps. If you don’t use onion in your stock, you can feed the scraps (just make sure you remove any bones!) to your dog as a treat (although I feed small amounts of it to my dog even if it contains onion). You can also puree the veggie/meat scraps and add it to soups to thicken and add flavor (but it will result in a somewhat grainier soup). Make sure you always scoop out the marrow from inside the bones – it is one of God’s best “superfoods” and is fatty, creamy, rich deliciousness!
My new favorite thing to do if there is a decent amount of marrow/meat left in the scraps is to remove all the bone pieces (even small ones!), add the scraps to the blender with enough water to puree it, add some salt, pepper, garlic, and other spices as I feel like that day, and pour thin layers of the mixture into glass casserole dishes (maybe 1/2-1 inch inch thick?). I then set my oven on its lowest temperature (170 degrees) and leave the casserole dishes in there all night (about 10-12 hours, depending on the thickness) to “dehydrate” and dry. This forms a tasty jerky-like treat that I can rip into pieces and enjoy as a healthy snack. It has an interesting texture that is difficult to describe (not crunchy but not soft, chewy and meaty, similar to shredded beef jerky), but the flavor is incredible and I really enjoy it. Plus, I feel like I am making the most out of every aspect of my bone broth making! You could try this in your dehydrator, but I don’t have enough of the puree trays in mine to use it, so I just use the oven.
Curious about how to use your bone broth, now that you have spent a few days making it? Come back in a few days for some great ideas of how to eat your delicious bone broth!