bone broth

My husband says that his daily bone broth makes him feel like Superman. Now, he may be exaggerating just a little bit because I certainly haven’t seen him lift a car with one finger, fly through the air or seen evidence of superhuman hearing (in fact I wonder sometimes if he actually has superhuman ‘selective’ hearing), but bone broth certainly does make both of us feel pretty good when consumed on a regular basis.

Why is bone broth good for you?

Heard of chicken soup for a cold or the flu? Well that is a simple example of a traditional way that bone broth has been used therapeutically. So it’s not new, but it is very much in fashion these days.

Bone broth contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulphur, collagen/gelatin and the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) arginine, glycine, glutamine and proline. These components have been shown to be good for healing your gut, good for joints, skin, metabolism and the immune system. If you’d like more detail then check out this post by Dr Axe which has references to a number of studies and resources.

What bones should I use?

You can make a broth from any bones, including beef, lamb, chicken or fish. Each will give you a different flavour. I recommend obtaining organic (or at least grass fed) bones but unlike organic meat, the bones are very cheap, considering that you will get many serves from one batch. At my local butcher it’s about $4/kg and I can usually fit 2 kg in my slow cooker.

I just head to an organic butcher and ask if they have any bones I can use for a broth or stock. Usually they won’t have them on display so always ask. I also ask, but often they suggest, that they slice them up to fit in my slow cooker. Those beef bones can be huge and by cutting it length ways and then in half again, you’ll get better access to the marrow and the bones will break down better.

You can roast the bones first, but it’s not necessary. Unless I’ve roasted a chicken or cooked some cuts of meat on the bone for a meal, then I use the bones raw.

You can make a broth from vegetables alone, but then you wouldn’t be getting the same beneficial nutrients from the bones but you would get some from the vegetables in a very flavoursome broth.

What equipment do I need?

A slow cooker/crock pot is beneficial because you can just leave in on and leave the house without worrying, but a pot with a lid on the stove over a low heat will work the same.

Once it’s cooked I like to use two large metal bowls, a wire strainer, tongs and a ladle (or a mug). One bowl is used for the bones and vegetables and the other the broth.

The cooking smell can be quite strong so consider placing it on a veranda, the laundry or in a shed if you find it a little overpowering.

So here is a very basic recipe. It’s also low FODMAP friendly if you leave out the optional ingredients.

Details

  • Prep time 5-10 mins
  • Cooking time 24 hours

Ingredients

  • 1-2 kg of bones (enough to fit snugly in your slow cooker or a large pot)
  • 2-4 carrots
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns (or pepper)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (white vinegar can taste a bit harsh)
  • Water

Optional

  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 onions
  • 2-4 sticks of celery or celery leaves
  • 2-4 cm of fresh ginger

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker or a large pot
  2. Fill with water to cover the bones
  3. Cook on low for 24 hours (chicken and fish bones can be cooked for between 12-24 hours)
  4. Once the time has finished, turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes or so to cool a little so that you don’t burn yourself when straining
  5. Place the large pieces directly into the waste bowl and then ladle the broth into the strainer over the other bowl
  6. Once it is all strained, push some of the mushy bits through the strainer
  7. Then dispose of the waste bowl and sit the broth bowl aside to cool
  8. Once it is no longer hot, place the bowl in the fridge. This will allow the fat to rise to the top and go hard for easy removal
  9. Once the fat has hardened (about 5 hrs to overnight), remove the bowl from the fridge and remove the fat in chunks from the top
  10. The broth should be jiggly like thick jelly (it will return to liquid once heated)
  11. Divide the broth into jars or containers or into ice cube trays for freezing or storing in the fridge

Should I reuse the fat or veggies?

The vegetables have done their job and all the nutrients have been removed. There are different thoughts about whether the fat is suitable for reuse. I find the taste and smell too strong to reuse so I just throw it out.

Storing and consuming the broth

Both can be used in many ways:

  • Stews and casseroles
  • Soups
  • As a warm drink
  • Bone broth latte (with almond milk)
  • Poached eggs
  • Sautéing vegetables

It can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days so I like to divide the batch between jars (leave a little gap at the top of the jar for expansion in the freezer) and ice cube trays. I store the jars in the freezer and then just remove one and defrost it in the fridge for daily cooking.

Once it has frozen in the ice cube trays I just remove them from the tray and place them in a zip lock bag and store it in the freezer for when I need small amounts.

Consistency

The thickness, or jiggyness of the broth when cold will depend on the ratio of bones to water. The gelatin that is leached from the bones is responsible for the thickness. The more bones you pack into the pot, the thicker the broth will be.

It also depends on the type of bones used. Knuckles, joints and feet contain more gelatin and the larger bones less.

If the broth is still in liquid form after it has been chilled, it will still contain all the goodness but in a diluted form.

If you get the broth so thick you could cut it with a knife, it just means that it is more concentrated and can be diluted for cooking or drinking.

Salt

Salt is essential for seasoning the broth but I leave out the salt from the cooking process. In this way you can season the dishes that you the broth in, rather than starting with already salted broth. Plus a bone broth latte tastes much better without salt!

So there you have it, an easy recipe to get more broth into your life. If you have any questions or any recommendations on how you use broth, comment below!