Today we have a guest post by Amanda Rose. I strongly recommend you check out her free video course on making broths and soups!
Bone broth is a cherished food among traditional foods lovers. In the spirit of “Getting Real” in your traditional foods kitchen, there is no reason that bone broth should either be expensive or complicated. No magic ratio of ingredients is required to create a great broth, all you need are some bones. Once you find a great source of bones, stew them again and again to get the most out of them.
Finding Bones for Bone Broth
The biggest issue you will face as you develop your broth-making regimen is finding the actual bones. As it turns out, you have quite a few options.
First, you can certainly look for bones from grass-fed animals. They are exquisite — you will find be gushing about such marrow bones here. However, in the spirit of “Getting Real” in your real foods kitchen, gourmet bones are out of most budgets these days.
Should we stretch and buy only bones from grass-fed animals?
I argue no: The key advantage of grass-feeding comes in the fat, something we tend to skim off of broth anyway. All bones will be exceptionally rich in minerals regardless of how they are sourced. Buy grass-fed if you can afford it, buy organic if you can afford it, buy regular bones if you cannot. No traditional foods kitchen should be without a simmering stock pot with some sort of bone inside.
Consider your budget and these types of vendors:
- Local farmers markets for grass-fed or regular bones. If a vendor sells meat, he or she can probably arrange to sell you bones.
- Ethnic grocery stores (Asian and Mexican in particular). Bones will likely be a stock item in this type of store and will be budget-friendly.
- Discount groceries that serve ethnic populations. Here in California we have a chain of discount stores called “FoodsCo” that keeps soup bones as a stock item.
- Regular grocery store. Ask the butcher if he or she can order soup bones for you. It is likely not a stock item.
- Local butcher shop. Here in central California, we have small butcher shops in many of our communities. They process animals of small producers and tend to have a great supply of soup bones at great prices. Many people buy them to feed to their pets and they are priced inexpensively as a result, but you obviously have a better vision for them. You might find them for $1/pound here in California, an exceptional price in this market. Take advantage of such a deal if you can find it.
Making the Bone Broth
There is nearly no way to ruin bone broth. You might add too much vinegar or a vegetable peel that is extra-bitter, but you will get nourishment out of those bones anyway you simmer them. In our years of making broth, we have adopted these basic practices:
- Roast bones if you have the time. Your broth will be richer in flavor.
- Add a dash of vinegar to your broth to get more minerals our of your bones. (Check out my video for our surprise of finding a “vinegar” in our cupboard that was not really vinegar.)
- Cover with water, covering your bones and vegetables completely, filling to about an inch or two above your ingredients.
- You can let your bones sit in cold water for an hour before starting your pot, an instruction you will find in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. I almost never do this because in an hour, I am likely to be on a whole other campaign. The broth is exquisite anyway.
- Add vegetables if you have them. Avoid broccoli, turnip peels, cabbage (and related foods such as brussel sprouts), green peppers, collard greens, and mustard greens — you might find the broth a bit bitter.
- Strain the broth after 24 hours, right into a soup pot. Your broth is hot and smelling wonderful. Don’t bother cooling it down, just make soup out of it. (Skim some fat off first if there appears to be oil-slick worthy amounts floating on top.)
- After straining your batch, make another. Simply add fresh water to your crock or stew pot, another tablespoon or two of vinegar and give it another go. We once got 12 batches of gelatin-rich broth from one batch of bones, as I describe on my bone broth resources page.
A Continuous Stock Pot
Large beef bones can be simmered again and again, producing mineral-rich broth each time. Smaller bones such as chicken and turkey can be stewed several times before they dissintegrate. Be sure to get as much out of your bones by stewing them continuously. In our kitchen, we simmer them in 24-hour cycles, making a soup with each batch. We find that simmering the bones longer tends to bring a bit of bitterness to the broth. We also love having broth everyday and this method allows it.
After the 3rd batch or so of beef bones, we might use the liquid to cook beans or grains, since it will not have the richness in flavor of the first few batches.
At some point, we get sick of the whole process, cry “uncle,” and clean out the pot for a later campaign.
Best Bones for Continuous Stock
If you adopt the continuous stock method, we suggest buying beef bones because they are so readily available and can be stewed many times and still provide you with a good broth. Depending on where you are buying them, you may not get to choose the type, but in case you do, these will likely be your options:
- Beef feet. These are harder to find, but absolutely my favorite because of the extreme quantity of gelatin. We used this bone in our “12 Days of Gelatin” video. Rest assured that it is the bone just above the hoof and looks like a bone, not like a “foot.”
- Knuckle bones. You will reconize these from their “knuckle-like” rounded bones. These are gelatin-rich bones as well, but not the stand-out for gelatin that you find with beef feet.
- Marrow bones. These are the most flavorful bones you will find, especially if you put the marrow in your stock pot. Marrow is exceptionally rich and you may want to scoop it out of your roasted bone and eat it on a cracker or right off of a fork rather than “wasting” the flavor in your stock pot. Try both ways and see what works for you.
Finding Our Rythym
As with most cooking, there is no exact method for making bone broth. Experience will help you find the method that works best in your kitchen that your family enjoys. The best bone broth method will be one that you are able to use often to enrich your health and the flavor of your food.
As you develop your approach, come back here and post some of your ideas for “Getting Real with Bone Broth” to help other traditional foods cooks refine their techniques.
Amanda Rose writes at the Traditional Foods site. Find her free video course on broth- and soup-making on Facebook.