bone broth

Anyone who’s ever trained  as a chef, or who’s religiously watched My Kitchen Rules or MasterChef will know that you have to know how to make a good broth.  It’s one of the very first things they teach at cooking schools.

A good broth can be the foundation of delicious meals.  It adds depth of flavour and warmth.  Escoffier, in his Guide Culinaire (1903), said “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done. If one’s stock is good, what remains of the work is easy; if, on the other hand, it is bad or merely mediocre, it is quite hopeless to expect anything approaching a satisfactory meal.”

But it is more than flavour.  As anb old South American Proverb goes, :Good broth will resurrect the dead.  In traditional houses it was a cure-all. Remember grandma making a big pot of chicken soup anytime someone would get sick? The same principal is at work here. Think of bone broth as a more concentrated version of Grandma’s healing soup.  Chicken soup is still the go-to remedy to make us feel better.

But is it just an old wives tale?  While there is not a great deal of research to be found specifically on bone broth itself, there are certainly studies that show the consituent minerals and nutrients are good for healing.

One study of chicken soup (broth) conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center wondered what it was in the soup that made it so beneficial for colds and flu. Researchers found that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. Also, research is proving it can also boost the immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis.

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And just to make it even better – it’s so easy to make.  There are not too many weeks that go by in our place where there isn’t a pot of bone broth that’s been simmering away in the slow cooker.

Which is great because buying it has it’s own drawbacks. You can buy cheap stock from the grocery store, full of preservatives and not much else, or if you are lucky to find slow cooked, organic, grass-fed hormone-free broth to buy, you’ll probably have to mortgage the house.

To make bone broth, you take bones like those from that leftover chicken or turkey carcass sitting the fridge for example. Cover it with plenty of water and simmer for several hours. How long you cook your broth is up to you. 12 hours gives you a very decent broth, but cooking it even longer makes it even more nutritious. If you’re using the bones from a roasted chicken, consider tossing them in a large crock pot and making your broth right in there. They can safely bubble away as you go about your day.

You can drink the finished hot broth as is, season it up with your favorite herbs and spices, or use it to make a pot of soup or stew. The cooled broth can be stored in the fridge for about 4 days or in the freezer for up to a year.

The next time you pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or roast that Thanksgiving turkey, don’t toss out the bones when you’re done. Use them to make a batch of delicious bone broth that’s good for you. Once you try it, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to make and how truly wonderful it is.

Of course,  adding a few extra simple steps other than just throwing bones in your pot will make it a) tastier – particualry if you are drinking it – which we do on a daily basis, and b) more nutritious.

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How To Make Your First Batch Of Bone Broth

The easiest way to make your first batch of bone broth is to start with a cooked chicken. Roast it yourself or head to your local grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken. Pull the cooked meat of the chicken and serve it for dinner. Store any leftover meat in the fridge to use later on to make chicken and noodle or chicken and rice soup with the bone broth you’re about to make.

Put everything that’s left – all the bones and any remaining bits and pieces of meat – into a large pot that has a lid. Fill it with plenty of cold water. The more water you add, the more broth you’ll get in the end. Don’t fill it all the way to the top or you risk the liquid bubbling over.

Next, add a good splash of apple cider vinegar to the pot. This step is optional. If you don’t have the vinegar in your pantry don’t fret it. You can add a splash of red wine or white vinegar if you’d like. The vinegar helps get all the minerals out of the bones and into the broth. But again, don’t worry if you don’t have it. Your broth will be just as tasty and almost as good for you without it. Add some roughly chopped carrot, onion and celery.  A bay leaf and a teaspoon of black peppercorns and you are right to go.

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I don’t add salt because I prefer to add if needed when using broth in recipes.  I find store bought broth and stock has way too much salt in for my liking, even to the point of making some of my dishes overly salty.  Changing to my own homemade broth and being able to control the seasong made a world of difference!

Cover the pot with the lid and crank up the heat until everything comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook your bone broth for a minimum of 12 hours. Although, if you can cook it for 48 to 72 hours, that is better. Of course you don’t want to simmer the broth on the stove while you’re out of the house or sleeping so you may want to consider getting a slow cooker.  These are great and made to be left on without having to hover over it.

The broth will be tasty after a few hours of simmering but will get better with time. After it has cooked for your desired time, let it cool enough to strain and then cool before popping in the fridge over night.

The next morning you should find a layer of fat has solidified over the top of the stock, just pull this off.  We keep it for cooking instead of using highly processed oils from the grocery store.  It’s the same as tallow and lard your grandmother used to use for cooking.

If the broth is jelly-like don’t freak out – THIS IS A GREAT THING! The more gelatinous the broth the more goodness is packed in . It will liquify as soon as it’s heated.  We all aim for that broth we can stand our spoon in 🙂

If you are using the broth within the next week store it in the fridge.  If you won’t be using it for a while – or you make it in bulk like me – portion it into single sizes (I generally go a cup – 250ml) and freeze for up to 6 months.

As a final tip – broth is great to drink in the morning instead of your coffee.  It’s a “brothee”. I’m partial to beef broth myself with some turmeric, cumin, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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It’s a great warming way to gt a whole lot of nutrients pack in to start the day!

This post has also been shared on A Pinch of Joy – Busy Monday