As I sit here writing this article, the smell of beef bone broth is wafting through my house. A few days ago, I picked up a package of grass-fed beef bones from our local Whole Foods Market (call ahead and they will order them for you), and last night I filled my slow cooker with the bones, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and water. Not counting the 20 minutes I took to roast the bones a bit first, it took about 10 minutes to get it all together. Within 24 hours I’ll have delicious bone broth to drink and use in recipes.
Have you tried bone broth? Bone broth is one of the tastiest and most inexpensive health foods that you can make right in your own kitchen. There are a lot of good reasons to make this amazing liquid, so if you haven’t tried making your own yet, grab some leftover bones from a whole chicken or ask your butcher or market for some beef bones, get out your slow cooker, and get to work. Your taste buds, wallet, and your health will thank you. And really, it isn’t even that much work.
Benefits Of Making Bone Broth
Let’s start with the obvious. Bone broth tastes really good. It has a deep rich flavor that you just won’t get out of a cartoon of beef or chicken stock.
Drink the broth on its own, or use it as the base for soups, stews and sauces. Any recipe that calls for broth or stock will be delicious with bone broth. Try simmering rice or vegetables in the broth for added flavor and nutrition.
Bone broth can be made from the bones you’d toss in the trash otherwise. It doesn’t get a lot more frugal than that.
If you’re buying quality chicken, turkey or beef, make the most of every dollar you spend by utilizing every little bit including the bones. Then take it even further by making soups and stews with the broth. It’s a great way to make even little bits of meat and veggies go a long way.
It’s Good For You
One of the main reasons people make and consume bone broth regularly is because it is so nutritious. There’s a reason grandma simmered a pot of homemade chicken soup when someone got sick. Think of bone broth as a more concentrated version of Grandma’s healing soup. It is chock-full of minerals, including magnesium and calcium and the fat content in the broth helps our bodies absorb these minerals. It’s also full of collagen and gelatin which are good for skin, hair and joints. Add to that the immunity boosting properties of a good cup of broth and it’s no wonder making bone broth has been common throughout history.
What Kind of Bones Can I Use?
Chicken bones are the perfect bones for making bone broth. If possible, use a whole, organic chicken. Roast the chicken, and enjoy the meat for dinner. Then toss everything left over — all the bones and little bits of meat — into a large stock pot or slow cooker, cover with water and simmer for 12-24 hours. For added flavor add your favorite aromatics and spices. A splash of apple cider vinegar will help leach the most nutrients from the bones.
If you’re in a rush, pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. It’s a great way to make sure you’re don’t waste a thing, plus you end up with some tasty broth.
Before you toss that turkey carcass leftover from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, make a big batch of broth and freeze until you’re ready to use it. Bones can be boiled several times to make more batches of broth. Make one batch to freeze and then another one to use right away.
Beef and Pork Bones
Both beef and pork bones make delicious broth, but are sometimes more challenging to obtain. Talk to the butcher at your local grocery store and ask him to save the bones for you. Sometimes inexpensive soup bones are sold in the meat department. If all else fails, do what I do and have your local market order bones for you. I pay about $5 a pound for mine, and while that doesn’t sound as frugal as using leftover chicken bones, beef bone broth is incredible and worth the upfront cost.
Bison and Wild Game Bones
If you’re fortunate enough to have a hunter in the family, ask him to save the bones for you. Or call up your local game processing business and ask about buying bones from deer. You treat them just like pork or beef bones.
The same goes for bison bones. If you have a bison farm in the area, it is worth making a call. While you’re there, pick up some ground bison too for some of the tastiest burgers you’ll ever eat.
How to Make Beef Bone Broth in Your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
4 pounds beef bones
2 medium unpeeled carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered
1 garlic head, halved crosswise
2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of rosemary
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6-quart (or larger) slow cooker or Instant Pot
Whether you are using a slow cooker or Instant Pot, if you are beginning with raw bones, blanch and roast your bones before you make the broth for best results. To blanch, cover the bones with cold water, bring to a boil, and let them cook at an aggressive simmer for 20 minutes. Drain first and then spread them out on a baking dish and bake at 450 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool until they are comfortable and safe to handle.
Now you’re ready to make your broth.
Begin by layering your vegetables and herbs into your slow cooker. Add the bones and then add just enough water to cover bones and vegetables. Cook for 24-72 hours on the low setting. The longer you simmer it, the better your broth will be.
Add the bones into the Instant Pot first, followed by the veggies and other ingredients. Fill the pot with water to cover the bones – be sure not to go over the “max” line on the pot. Let the Instant Pot sit for about 30 minutes before turning it on to give the apple cider vinegar tine to pull the minerals from the bones. After 30 minutes, use the “soup” setting and manually set the time at 120 minutes. After the 120 minutes of pressure cooking is done, all the pressure to release naturally release and continue on with the rest of the instructions.
After Your Broth Has Finished Cooking
Allow broth to cool for an hour or two, then strain broth using a fine-mesh sieve and discard bones and vegetables. Allow to continue to cool until barely warm, then refrigerate in smaller containers overnight. It’s not a bad idea to add some ice cubes so that the broth cools quickly, and can be refrigerated quickly, reducing the chance of bacterial growth. If you’ve done this correctly, your broth will look a bit like meat jello the next morning. Don’t be alarmed, this is good stuff. The more collagen-rich your bones (ie: beef), the more gelatinous your broth will be.
Broth can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer.
This same recipe can be used for any other bones you wish to use. I use it often for chicken bones as well. I do sometimes skim the fat off of my chicken broth the next morning. If you added too much of the leftover skin, your broth will be very fatty. I don’t mind some of this good fat, but I don’t want too much of it. To prevent that from happening, I don’t generally add all of the leftover fat.
Keeping things basic when you make a big batch of broth makes it easy to use the broth later. I generally go ahead and make my broth using the above recipe (adding salt to taste as I use it rather than while cooking it), but you can make a simple broth using just bones and water and then add whatever seasonings you prefer later.
Here is a list of herbs, spices and vegetables you can add to your broth for extra flavor:
Fresh or Dried Herbs :
Of course this isn’t an all-inclusive list. If it sounds tasty, try adding it to your broth for added flavor.
Why add apple cider vinegar?
You many be wondering about the apple cider vinegar. The main reason to add vinegar to your broth is to get more of the minerals and trace elements out of the bones. The acidity of the vinegar helps leach the minerals from the bones and into the broth.
The second reason to add vinegar is because it acts as a preservative. The acidic nature of any type of vinegar will kill bacteria and make sure your finished broth is still safe to consume after a few days. This works similar to the way pickling preserves vegetables and fish.
Storing Bone Broth
Storing Bone Broth In The Fridge
Allow your bone broth to cool completely after you’ve finished boiling it. Anything you haven’t used up by this point should be strained into clean jars and stored in the fridge for 5-7 days.
You can use the broth straight from the fridge in your favorite soups or stews. If you want a cup to drink, pour some in a small pot and warm over the stove.
Freezing Bone Broth For Long Term Storage
If you have more broth than you can use over the course of a few days, it’s a good idea to freeze what you don’t need. Once your pot of broth and bones has cooled enough to be safe to handle, strain the liquid into a large bowl or pitcher.
Depending on how you plan to use the broth later on, either freeze it in glass jars or plastic containers, or pour it into ice cube trays for smaller portions that you can add to cook veggies or make rice. I usually do a little of both.
Be sure to label your containers. When using ice cube trays, set them in the freezer for a few hours or until the broth is frozen solid, then pop them out and transfer them to a freezer bag. Label the bag and put it back in the freezer. You can grab individual bone broth cubes as you need them. Bone broth can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Perpetual Bone Broth
If you want to drink bone broth on a daily basis for the health benefits, you’ll want to know about perpetual bone broth. The basic idea is that you have a pot of broth simmering at all times, dipping out what you need to drink or cook with, adding more water and bones as needed. I only use this method in my slow cooker, not on the stove.
This is especially a good idea if you or someone in your family is sick, so you can have a constant supply of hot broth to sip on without a lot of work. You can keep your broth going for up to a week, then discard it all and begin again if desired.
Have you ever made bone broth? What do you like to put in yours?