If there’s anything you should learn as a homesteader, it’s how to make bone broth. Why? Bone marrow is one of the most nutrient-dense food available, and when you make bone broth, you release those locked-up vitamins. If you’re sick, you eat chicken soup, right? This is that chicken soup times a thousand.
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You can do this even if you live in the smallest apartment on earth, and it’s super simple. You can use any kind of meat: chicken (bones and/or feet), pork, beef, and even fish heads.
It’s your passage to independence. You’re frugality street cred will go up. You’ll be a kitchen superstar. And your body will thank you.
Bone broth, and the fat and cartilage it contains, is excellent for your body, your skin, those joints that start to ache as we age, you name it. It’s wholesome, nourishing food that at the same time takes your frugality to the next step. That chicken you roasted for dinner can also make lunch the next day. When you make your first risotto with your bone broth, you’ll know what I mean. Promise.
So, how do you make the best broth on earth? Here’s your go-to guide:
1. Roast the bones (if you’re using raw bones/cartilage). Roasting brings out every inch of flavor in the meat, and starts to break down some of that cartilage you want in your broth. You’ll increase the nutrient value of the meat as you roast it.
2. Put the roasted bones in your stock pot. Be sure to use a large pot! You can use a regular stock pot or a pressure cooker. (I use a regular stock pot, but if you use a pressure cooker, follow you cooker’s instructions to properly cook the bones.)
3. Cover the bones with water.
4. Add a closed cheese cloth with herbs to the pot. You can use oregano, thyme, bay leaves, pretty much any herbs your heart desires.
5. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours. Skim any foam that might surface.
That’s it. Super simple, right?
Some of the best bone broth is made using cartilage-rich parts, such as pork trotters or chicken feet. You can also use tendon to give your broth that extra protein kick. Don’t be afraid to use these parts – it seems yucky at first, but you get used to it. You might even get the fat to congeal at the top, which is considered the gold standard of bone broth. Your visual affirmation that you’ve made something wonderful (if you’re bone broth doesn’t congeal at the top, don’t worry. Mine doesn’t a lot of the time, and it’s still a super food, and amazingly good for your body).
If you want to make stock and not necessarily broth, leave out the bag of herbs.
Storing your broth:
You can store your broth in a number of ways. I freeze mine, but you can also pressure can it (don’t do a hot water bath, be sure to pressure can it). It freezes beautifully, so if canning isn’t an option, you can freeze without worry. If you plan to use immediately, then the refrigerator is obviously a good option.
How to use:
Use bone broth any way you would use water. I’ve used it when making biscuits (makes them super savory), in soups, for risotto. I add it to scrambled eggs for an extra protein and flavor kick. I’ve even been known to make gravy out of bone broth (kids love it).
Mistakes to avoid:
- Be sure to roast the bones before starting your broth. Not only will your broth be super flavorful, you’ll avoid issues like blood in your broth. It won’t hurt you, but it’s not the most visually appealing.
- Use the bones twice, for 2 different batches of broth. The second batch will not be as flavorful, but it will still be great for recipes requiring water – you can substitute the bone broth for water. Whatever your cooking will still get a nutritional boost, and since the broth isn’t the center of the recipe, you won’t miss out on any flavor.
- One thing I don’t endorse, and some may disagree with me, is keeping a pot of broth constantly simmering. There’s some advice out there about the benefits of the constantly available simmering pot of broth. I think it’s an unsafe practice, and it uses a lot energy. I personally make my broth, then clean the pot and wait until I have enough bones to make another batch. Typically from one roast chicken, I get enough broth to last me a week or so, depending on my menu.
Until next time!
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Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.