Broths made from bones have been used across the globe throughout human history. Nearly every traditional society boiled bones to make a nutrient-rich broth and stock—from Vietnamese pho to Italian brodo to American chicken noodle soup. A flavorful, meaty broth is at the base of some of the world’s most comforting dishes. But in the last couple of years, nutritionists and health food junkies have begun promoting broth not for its delicious warming properties but for its numerous health benefits. According to many, broth made primarily with animal bones and simmered for hours and hours is a magical superfood that can heal digestive issues, revive tired muscles, and make brittle hair and nails a thing of the past. Unlike commercially prepared broth which relies on harsh cooking methods and questionable additives, traditional bone broth, otherwise known as stock, retains all the benefits of unhurried cooking and natural ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH
Homemade, nutrient dense broth is incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. Most recipes for making stock use only chicken or beef bones, but it can be made using bones from any animal you enjoy eating. In selecting the bones for broth, look for high-quality bones from grass-fed cattle, pastured pork, or free-range poultry. Since you’ll be extracting the nutrients and consuming them in concentrated form, you want to make sure that the animal was as healthy as possible.
In my experience customers want to use femur bones. Femurs are great as they contain a ton of marrow but very little collagen. You want a good mix of bones and joints; I suggest using a 1:1 ratio of bones to joints. This will almost guarantee you achieve that jello-like consistency.
The first step in making broth is roasting the bones. This browns and caramelizes them, and we all know what browned and caramelized means: better flavor. Don’t be afraid to really take the bones to the limit. Crank the oven up high a bold 450ºF. You have to put in ample oven time. Take those bones right up to the edge of too done. Once you’re ready to boil the bones, don’t waste the crisped brown bits on the bottom of the pan, loosen them with a little water and a metal spatula, and add those to your stockpot. This adds flavor to the finished broth. A good bone broth doesn’t need much more than bones and a few choice aromatics, like onions, carrots, celery, black pepper, and a few bay leaves. The last two ingredients are cider vinegar (this helps to pull minerals from the bones) and last but not least is filtered water.
Once you have all of your ingredients ready, you can add them to your stock pot. Start by adding the roasted bones and bits, then the aromatics and cider vinegar, then move it all to the stove, then add the filtered water. You want to add enough water to cover the bones plus one inch. Cook on high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until it drops to a simmer, and let simmer for 24 hours. Once the broth is done cooking, use tongs to remove as many of the bones as you can and then strain using a fine mesh strainer. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. In the morning you will have a nice layer of on top of the broth; this fat is full of flavor and works great for sautéing vegetables, caramelizing onions or pan-frying burgers. It will also make a great roux for gravy or thickening soups or stews. Once refrigerated; your broth will be good for five to seven days or frozen for up to six months.