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The benefits of drinking bone broth are vast. It is said to heal leaky gut, boost the immune system, as well as provide many essential vitamin, minerals and amino acids.
You can read more about the amazing benefits of bone broth in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and also in Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. (both highly recommended!)
As if the health benefits weren't enough, it also tastes amazing! Homemade bone broth is the secret base to the most flavorful soups, stews, and casseroles. It's my secret ingredient to many dishes my family loves.
Before I started making bone broth (or any stock or broth), it seemed like a daunting thing. In truth, it is really easy!
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Essentially, the process is the same whether you are making stock, broth, or bone broth. (There is little difference between these.)
Here is my basic recipe for making bone broth.
First, a bunny trail about ingredients. What you will never read on the Sisters' blog is a guilt-trip about feeding your family organic. In my early years of homemaking I read tons of information to find out the best, healthiest ways to feed my family...on a budget. There is a lot of good information out there. But, sometimes, I would come away from a blog or eBook feeling guilty because, even though we were trying to reduce processed foods or refine sugars, I could only afford to do so much. There were only so many changes I could make in our diet because I only had so much money to work with. And the subtle message seemed to be, if I couldn't do 100% organic, natural, grass-fed, etc., then we weren't really eating "healthy".
And then I had a conversation with a lovely woman who gave me a new perspective. In a nutshell, she told me that God knows each situation and each mama's heart to feed her family good nutritious food. He also knows what financial situation He has providentially placed us in. As mamas, we do the best we can with the resources (time, abilities, money, etc.) God has given us and leave the results up to Him.
He created all life. He's perfectly capable of blessing our non-organic bone broth ingredients to make them as healthy as He wants! (Bunny trail on bunny trail: I don't think this applies to cheese puffs. Somehow I don't think God supernaturally blesses cheese puffs. Which is a shame because I really like cheese puffs and wish they were healthy.)
So, I'm not going to tell you to use organic-only, grass-fed whatever. Obviously, that's going to be a healthier option. If that's what you want to use and can afford, go for it. If that isn't an option for you, just use the highest quality ingredients you can afford. There's no guilt here!
I'll get off my soap box now to introduce the (organic or non-organic) ingredients list:
We purchase half a steer at a time from a local farmer. When it's being processed at the butcher's, we ask to keep the knuckle bones, which get scrapped or sold by the butcher for other uses that don't involve human consumption. What a waste!
Usually, at no additional cost, we'll get 3 big bags of these bones, which can make at least 3 20-quart roasters full of bone broth. (Tara here: I prefer to make my bone broth in smaller batches using my slow cooker or stockpot.)Even if you are not having a steer butchered, I'm told that many butchers will give these away for a small fee or even free. (If you ask a butcher, know that sometimes they're referred to as "dog bones" because many people think that's all they're good for.)
If you don't have beef bones, you can use chicken or turkey. Using whole, uncooked birds technically makes stock (not bone broth), but this is still a super nutritious food. If you're really looking for ways to save money, you can use leftover chicken or turkey carcasses (after you've roasted or cooked them for a meal), but it won't make as large a quantity nor be as rich.
Use as many or as few as you like. The more you use, the more flavorful and nutritious your broth will be:
In the summer, I sometimes pick stinging nettle (yes, you read that correctly!) and add it to the broth. In fact, I have harvested and dried it for winter use as well. Stinging nettle is incredibly nutritious and, in particular, high in iron. Not to mention it's free in the woods behind my house.
You can also throw in egg shells (rinsed of any egg residue), which add calcium and other minerals.
Use these liberally:
We had our first real frost and everything in the garden pretty much wilted. But then I found this beautiful bunch of parsley peeking out of the herb bed still looking so fresh and green:
Bless you, hardy little parsley, for being so frost-resistant!
Place all this in a roaster. (To make a smaller batch, you can use a slow cooker as mentioned above. Adjust everything according to what will fit in your slow cooker.)
If I were doing a Pinterest-perfect photo shoot, I would carefully arrange each bay leaf, sprig of parsley, etc. (and the beef bones wouldn't be frozen together in an unattractive, lumpy bunch). But, I'm a real mama trying to get this broth started before I need to break up a squabble between siblings, or help someone with a math problem, or simply go on to the next task in an incredibly long to-do list. So, this is what you get.
Cover everything with water. Turn on the roaster (or slow cooker) to low heat and let it cook for 36 to 48 hours (the longer, the better).
This allows time for all the nutrients to be cooked out of the bones and vegetables and into the broth!
About halfway through, it should look something like this:
(This is where I realized that I had forgotten to put in garlic, so I threw in a couple of garlic bulbs.)
My photographer (aka, oldest daughter) didn't want to take a picture of this because she thinks it looks "disgusting". Okay, well, maybe it looks a little disgusting. But, that's perfectly normal. When you're all done it will be delicious. Trust me.
Once the broth is done, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let it cool enough to handle.
It should look something like this:
And you thought it looked disgusting before!
Using tongs, pull out as many of the bones and veggies as you are able; discard. Once the roaster is cool enough to handle (and lighter for lifting after removing many of the bones/veggies), pour it into a bowl through a colander to remove the remaining bones and veggies.
By the way, this job can get just a tad bit messy. If you aren't already in the habit of wearing an apron when cooking, you might want to wear one when pouring your lovely, fatty bone broth into the colander. Flirty Apron has the cutest aprons for mommy and daughter and sometimes run $5 apron sales.
Allow the broth to cool at room temperature before ladling into jars (or other freezer-safe containers). Broth will expand in the freezer, so make sure you leave a few inches of head space! Screw on the lids and freeze until needed.
If you store some broth in the refrigerator, you'll notice a layer of congealed fat form on top of the broth. Animal fat is actually a good fat source, in moderate quantities. For soups and stews, I leave this in. However, if you're dieting or feeding the broth to someone recovering from illness, you can skim off the hardened fat and dispose of it.
Also, you'll notice the broth "jiggles" when it's chilled. This is actually a good sign. It means the collagen (called gelatin when cooked...you know, as in Jell-O) has cooked out of the bones into the broth. It's one of the things that makes bone broth so healthy. If your chilled broth doesn't jiggle, you might not be using enough bones or cooking it long enough to remove the collagen from the bones.
Frozen broth should last at least 6 months in the freezer, although I've never had occasion to test this because I use it up so quickly.
Once you start making homemade broth and taste the difference in flavor, you will never want store-bought (or bouillon) again!
To download the recipe, click on the image below.
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