It’s a cycle: I talk about broth a lot, so people ask me about broth a lot. This is what I say.
Broth and stock are the basis of many traditional real food preparations, including delicious sauces, soups, and stews. They’re also great food for your gut.
I avoided making broth for years, but it turns out that it’s way easier than the books make it out to be. The recipe is simple: bones, cold water, acid, simmer don’t boil for some hours. When I want to make some, those 4 steps are all I have to think, and the process pretty much does itself.
But people freak out about that: what are all the intricacies, the things they’ll learn over the years? They want it all, now. To get it “right” the first time. Mostly they just don’t want to f it up.
I’ve gleaned different broth tips over the years. While my fave recipe is from “Nourishing Traditions,” that recipe can seem a bit overwhelming for beginners, and doesn’t include all the things you might want to know. So, to reduce overwhelm and set the priorities, I’ve separated this recipe into “Basics” and “The Nitty Gritty.”
Fill slow cooker with water to about 1 inch below rim.
Add 1-3 Tbsp acid (I like vinegar, do what you like. If you’re sensitive to fermented foods, try lemon juice). This helps the calcium and other minerals leach from the bones into the water.
Bring to a simmer. Don’t boil.
Skim and discard any scum that you notice. Simmer for 6-24 hours.
If you leave it simmering in a crock pot for 48-72hrs because you’re busy, that’s fine too, it just won’t gel up as well but it’s still good. Don’t stress.
Strain it, refrigerate the strained broth, and add more water to the bones for another batch of broth.
Throw out the boneswhen they crumble easily between your fingers, usually after 3 batches of 12-24hr broth.
Skim and discard fat
Note: You can make perfectly good broth without ever reading the following. But…if you want more detail, or you’re troubleshooting, here it is.
THE NITTY GRITTY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
- Why no boiling? Aggressive boiling makes broth cloudy, less tasty, and possibly less nutritious.***
- How much water?
- Don’t fill the slow cooker all the way to the lid; it’ll bubble over, even on low heat.
- Give it an inch space at top, so it doesn’t bubble over and make a greasy mess.
- Don’t under-fill or it’ll boil.
- All broths taste richer when made from pre-roasted bones (especially beef broth, which can even get weird and metallic if made from raw bones).
- That’s part of the reason I start from roast chicken, or roast marrow bones, or bones from lamb chops or pork chops or steaks I have eaten.
- But if this “extra” step is the thing stopping you from making broth? Forget it. Better to make broth from raw bones than have no broth at all. It’ll still be yummy and nutritious.
- What kind? Any kind! Chicken, beef, lamb, pork, whatever. (Start with chicken bones if you want a combination of easy, fast, and universally appealing).
- Where to get them? I roast or slow cook 2 chickens on Sunday to get the bones to start broth and have leftovers for the week. When you’re eating meat in general, save the bones in the freezer til they add up to a couple pounds: free broth! If you can get pasture raised soup bones, chicken feet, or other cartilage, do. If you’re not in the farmer’s market/local butcher habit yet, and your supermarket meat quality doesn’t cut it, US Wellness Meats sells whatever you need
- Keep them segregated by type if you want to take advantage of their different flavors.
- Definitely don’t put fish bones in any broth you don’t want to taste like fish.
- The thinner the bones, the faster the broth.
- What if I don’t have a slow cooker? If you don’t have a slow cooker, 4-8hr stove broth is good!
- Sometimes, if you’re doing it on the stove, it’ll boil accidentally. That’s ok. Drink it, use it, just don’t boil the next batch.
- But seriously, buy a slow-cooker. It’ll transform the way you eat.
- Most slow cookers on low should simmer without boiling (except Crock Pot brand; they run hot). I love All Clad, Hamilton Beach works well, and I’ve heard great things about VitaClay but never used one. Cuisinarts lately tend to be flimsy for the price.
- How do I skim the fat?
- while hot: with a spoon
- once it’s fridged: just peel it off and discard.
- Throw some veg in for the last 1/2 hr to 3 hrs. This adds nice minerals, and makes the broth taste really appealing. More like soup and less like gross bone-water.
- Yes: celery, parsley, onions/onion skins, leeks, fennel, carrots/carrot peelings, bay leaf, black peppercorns
- No: crucifers (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc because they will make it taste bitter…and smell like farts) or sweet potato skins (because they leach a lot of oxalates, we can talk about that some other time).
- Proceed with caution: no more than 30 mins of simmering w garlic. Can get real funky.
- Throw in some meat scraps in for flavor in the last 3-4hrs, whatever satisfies your preferred balance of economical and sustainable/happily-raised (you’re gonna throw it out with the strained bones, meat becomes tasteless after 4hrs. Don’t leave meat in for longer than 4hrs)
- Beef broth:
- definitely roast the bones.
- it’s gonna look and smell unappetizing til you strain out the bones and gray blobs. Be ready. It gets better.
- if you wanna drink it by itself, you’re gonna need to do the “optional” vegetable step up there at #1 to make it tasty. But man, is it tasty when you add the veg.
- Quick and Easy Fish broth: only takes half an hour, and it gels up so nicely!
- Use some fish bones/carcasses, simmer on the stovetop, and it’s done.
- Add lemon and ginger, and use it in any Asian soup or recipe for delightful umami.****
Some other good broth resources:
Underground Wellness: http://undergroundwellness.com/the-art-of-bone-broth/
Veg broth: (omit the yams and sweet potatoes for GAPS) http://thechalkboardmag.com/the-healing-kitchen-magic-mineral-broth
This is pretty much the Nourishing Traditions beef broth recipe: http://thenourishingcook.com/beef-stock-anyone/
*technically, bone-water with some meat is stock, and meat-water with some bones is broth. Stock has more gelatin and minerals. But people talk about “bone broth,” and I’m such a contentious person about so many things, I choose to go with the flow of usage on this one.
***again, boiling messes with the albumin. Possibly less nutritious because it’s possible that the aggressive high heat destroys glycosaminoglycans, and I’ve never seen proof of that, but there’s often wisdom in traditional food preparation and I’m not gonna discount it offhand.
****umami is a taste that intensifies all other tastes and increases feelings of satiety. More on this in another post.