Once upon a time (OK it was 5 years ago) I was determined to cook my first Thanksgiving meal. My parents were driving in from out of town and I was certain that I would impress them with my growing culinary skills. I spent weeks researching recipes, clipping coupons, and devising the most sophisticated, tasty meal plan. Everything was going as planned until I opened up the darned turkey and read in the instructions that I had to stick my actual hand INTO the carcass. That was the end of me. I tried, but the gag reflex was strong and I just couldn’t imagine how anyone could stomach working with raw meat like that. My mom ended up having to prepare the whole turkey.
I have come a loooong way since that fateful Thanksgiving day. Through a series of life events I came to realize and understand the importance of eating a real food diet. When I started reading about the value of bone broth, I knew I had to get over my aversion to raw meat with bones. So I trucked myself over to the farmer’s market, purchased some bones, and made my very first pot of simmering stock. From that day 3 years ago, bone broth has been a regular part of our diet.
Why Bone Broth?
Why is bone broth so valuable? It is a rich source of calcium, gelatin/collagen, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and a variety of trace minerals. Bone broth is healing to the gut and plays an important role in any healing protocol such as the GAPS diet or the Autoimmune Protocol. Cure Tooth Decay declares that bone broth is essential for proper tooth health. The benefits of bone broth go on and on, but these are not the same benefits you get from store bought broths. Those usually contain MSG, little to no gelatin/collagen, and contain a lot of extra ingredients that may be questionable.
In order to get the healing benefits from broth, you have to make it yourself. I know that making broth can sound so intimidating. If you have never made it, it can feel like it’s going to be a lot of work and very time consuming. But it’s not. In fact, it’s so easy it’s almost fool proof. I say almost because I, of course, did find one way to totally ruin bone broth. But I promise to help you so you won’t make the same mistake I did. You can read the humbling story here.
The Busy Mom’s Guide to Bone Broth
I want to show you how easy it is to make this nourishing super-food for your family. Through the years I have learned a lot of short cuts. I call this the Busy Mom’s Guide because that sounds better than the Lazy-Person’s Guide, but it really is the easiest and simplest way.
Step 1: Get Bones
You want them to come from animals that were out in the sun, on pasture, eating what they were created to eat. These are the bones that are going to provide you with the best nourishment. I like to get mine at the Farmer’s Market. Sprouts also sellls bones as well as Whole Foods and other natural health stores. If you can’t find pastured bones, don’t let that stop you. The broth from conventional bones is still going to be more nourishing than any broth from a can or box.
My bones usually come frozen like this:
Those are marrow bones. Yummy! You can use whatever bones you have. Seriously. Don’t be a bone snob and think you can only make broth if you have a certain mixture of bones. Knuckle bones and bones with cartilage will give you more gelatin, but you can use all bones.
Step 2: Roast Bones (optional)
This step is completely optional. If I don’t have time I skip this step altogether. Roasting gives a deeper flavor and a deeper color to the broth, but if you are
lazy busy, then skip it! On this occasion I roasted the bones because I wanted to extract that beautiful marrow. That stuff is also a nutritional powerhouse! I usually roast mine at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Throw them in a pot with water
The bigger the pot, the better. I have a big stainless steel stock pot I use. You could get fancy and throw in some veggies, but I like to keep the taste kind of neutral so I can sneak it into more foods. You can also throw in a dash of vinegar. The vinegar will help break down the bones so that more of the minerals get into the broth. This step takes maybe 2 minutes.
Step 4: Simmer and skim
Once your pot of bones and water is on the stove top, bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, go back to the pot, turn down the heat, and skim off some of the scum that has risen to the top (see picture above). This takes maybe 1 minute of actively doing something.
Then you just let it simmer. Chicken bones can simmer for 24 hours, but beef bones can simmer up to 48 hours.
***Now here is where you want to be careful and check the water in your pot every now and then. If you don’t the water may completely evaporate and then you will be left with simmering bones and a horrid stench. Just take my word for it and add water to your pot if it seems to be getting low.
Step 5: Strain
A lot of people use cheesecloth to strain their broth. I find that too messy and I hate throwing away the cheesecloth or taking the time to wash it. Instead I just use a fine mesh strainer. Some small particles do get through, but not enough to really make a difference. I usually pour it through a strainer into a big measuring cup. Then from the measuring cup I fill up my mason jars. I leave the bones in the stock pot. Then I fill the stock pot back up with water and repeat the process. You can reuse the bones for several batches of broth until they are literally falling apart.
Step 6: Consume or Save
When I fill my jars, I leave some room at the top so that I can stick the jars in the freezer without having them crack. Whenever one of my jars in the refrigerator is getting low, I pop one out of the freezer into the refrigerator.
How to Consume More Broth
Some people drink the broth straight up. I have tried that and am not really a fan. Instead I like to covertly place the broth in whatever I’m making. Some ways to include more broth in your diet:
- Cook your rice or quinoa in broth instead of water.
- Cook your beans in broth instead of water.
- I make this one pot mac ‘n cheese recipe using 1 cup of broth in place of 1 cup of milk. It turns out delicious!
- Add broth instead of water to any of your recipes. Chicken broth has a much milder flavor than beef broth, so just keep that in mind. I even add part broth to our oatmeal and find it doesn’t really affect the flavor too much.
If you really want the health benefits of bone broth, but just can’t get around to making it yourself, there is one place that sells the real deal. You can find that here.
Do you make your own broth? How do you incorporate it into your meals?