Fall is a great season to make a bone broth, or stock. You can make a few different kinds, store them in your freezer, and use them throughout the winter. Traditional cultures have been using broths for ages, to add both flavor and nutrition to their dishes all winter long. For our ancestors, using every part of an animal (sometimes in more than one way) gave them the most for their money. But using the “leftover” parts of an animal (the bones, cartilage, and marrow) also adds rich minerals we would otherwise be disregarding. Instead of throwing away the carcass of your Thanksgiving turkey or the center bone in your steak, you can use them to make a nutrient-rich broth.
Making a broth simply involves simmering the bones of chicken, turkey, fish, beef, or whatever animal you have available in a large pot of water with vegetables, herbs, and spices for many hours to extract the minerals (namely calcium, magnesium and potassium) from the bones, cartilage, and marrow. The added vegetables also provide us with electrolytes. Broths are also full of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Proline and glycine are the two most abundant amino acids, which support our connective tissue surrounding the ligaments, tendons, and joints. They are also intricately involved in many of our organ systems and necessary in healing in general.
Making a broth is easy! You will need to set aside a 12-24 hour period when you can plan on simmering the broth on the stove, or in a crock-pot. Since this means the broth may be cooking overnight, it might feel safer for you to use your crock-pot. Either way, here is how you can make a beautiful, clear, nutritious broth:
- 2 lbs quality bones (leftover from a meal, or from a butcher/farmer. Look in the “Tips for Success” section for more on where to get quality broth bones.)
- 2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ****This is an important ingredient****
- 1-2 onion, diced
- 3-5 celery sticks, cut in thirds
- 3-5 carrots, cut in thirds
- 1 tsp crushed peppercorns
- 3-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (if available)
- 1 bunch parsley
Fill a large pot (or crock pot), with all ingredients except for the parsley. Leave at least an inch of room at the top of the pot so it doesn’t spill over once it is boiling Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. A layer of white/brown scum will appear at the top of the broth. Take this layer off with a spoon and dispose of it. Check for this layer every half hour in the first hour or so of simmering the broth. Cook for 8-24 hours (depending on the type of broth). Add the bunch of parsley for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Be forewarned: the both will not smell or look appealing at all! But don’t worry it’s normal! Strain the broth. Save only the liquid, dispose of the rest. The broth should be clear. Let it cool and keep it in pint or quart-sized containers in the refrigerator for the base of a soup, sauce, or to cook your grains (as a nourishing and flavorful replacement for water).
The broth will last up to 5 days in the fridge and many months in the freezer. I like to pour some of the broth into pint or quart-sized containers for soups and pour some into ice cube trays so I can easily use small amounts to make sauces, cook grains, or even to add to a stir-fry.
If your stock looks gelatinous, this is actually a good sign! Depending on the type of bones you use, the broth has more or less gelatin in it. Gelatin is wonderful for healing digestive disorders.
Some details to help you in whichever stock you decide to make:
- Beef broth- use marrow and knuckle bones. A calves’ foot is also a good addition if you can find it. Rib or neck bones are good. If you use any meaty bones, place them into a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, or until brown. Then add them to the pot with the other ingredients. Cook anywhere from 12-72 hours.
- Fish broth- use 3-4 whole non-oily fish carcasses, including heads! Sole, turbot, rockfish, and snapper work well for broths. Add a couple tablespoons of butter to the pot as well. Cook for 4-24 hours.
- Chicken or turkey broth- use an entire chicken/turkey carcass. Adding chicken feet will make the broth more gelatinous. You may also add the gizzards if you wish. Cook broth for 6-24 hours.
Homemade broths boost your immune system (this is why your grandmother would make you chicken noodle soup when you’re sick), and improve your digestion. Having some broth on a daily basis, especially in the colder months when fruits and vegetables are less available, can be very helpful in maintaining good health.
Use quality sourced meats, poultry, and fish for your broth! Grass-fed beef, pasture-raised turkey or chicken, and wild-caught (not farm-raised) fish are your best sources. The nutrients from these bones will be far richer and the impurities you skim off once boiled will be far less than with lesser-quality bones. Whole Foods or Giant grocery stores, local coops or health food stores, local farms (like Birchwood Farms), or buying broth bones online from a trusted source (like TropicalTraditions.com) are all great options for finding quality broth bones.
Fallon, Sally “Nourishing Traditions”. NewTrends Publishing, 2001.