Bone broth is always wildly popular through the winter in real food circles. It’s an awesome, nutrient-dense food full of wonderful gelatin and minerals. If you do it right, you can pull many minerals out of the bones to the point that the bones will soften and easily snap under a little pressure. That’s a sure sign that mineral migration has happened.
Bone broth is a ‘found food’ for many people, meaning it can be made out of scraps instead of purchased ingredients, making it highly economical during a time period where money is tight for most folks. But I often see new real foodies not maximizing the nutritional punch and spending too much money on stock making. Here are the five biggest mistakes you might be making with your bone broth.
Not Re-Using Bones
With chicken and beef bones, you should make at least two batches of stock out of each set of bones. Yes, it is true that the second round won’t be as rich, but it will contain good nutrition and flavor. To help with the body, I go ahead and put fresh chicken feet into the second batch.
Use the second round of stock by mixing it with the first and cooking it down, or you can use it for cooking things like taco meat, rice and other dishes where the stock is absorbed instead of being a feature of the meal, as it is with soup. It’s a win-win- you get more nutrition into your meals for little to no additional expense.
Throwing Away Bones
Never, ever put a bone in the garbage until it’s been run through your stockpot twice. It’s a waste. Salvage every bone and pop it into the freezer until it’s time to make stock, if you don’t have enough on hand today to do it.
I know someone will ask, ‘What if someone ate off of it?’ Personally, since I know those bones are going into a pot that will be hot enough to kill off any germs immediately after the meal is over, I don’t worry about it. Of course, we do eat with forks and knives at the table. But if you’re really squicked out about any possible germs, you can de-bone the chicken before serving it. Take the meat and skin to the table and leave the bones in the kitchen so you can make stock. As a bonus, your kids will likely eat faster, too, since they don’t have to debone their meat!
No Vinegar Soak
A vinegar pre-soak before applying heat ensures that minerals will be pulled out of the bones and into the stock. If you skip it, you must cook the stock for much longer before you can get the same effect. Always soak cold bones with vinegar before you apply any heat. If the bones are hot, the pores are closed and the vinegar can’t get in to work its magic. Use cold bones and soak with 2 Tbs vinegar to 1 gallon of water for chicken or a half-cup vinegar to one gallon for beef for one hour before you turn on the heat.
Throwing Out Veggies
The little ends of onions, little bits of the top and bottom of a carrot and the leaves and heart of celery can all be scrubbed, trimmed and used in stock instead of using whole onions, carrots and celery that could otherwise be used for cooking. These little bits of waste can save you money and cut down on your need to run to the grocery store.
I throw my odds and ends into a zip-top bag in my kitchen freezer and pull them out when it’s time to make stock. It saves me time chopping and it saves money by not using whole vegetables that I could otherwise feed to my kids. It’s a win-win!
Chicken feet makes a rich, flavorful stock. Many real foodies find feets, beaks and other odd bits scary. If little claws sticking out of the pot bother you, simply slide the feet into the chicken carcasses’ cavity and put the carcass into a narrow stock-pot neck-up so the feet are trapped inside the chicken, under the water line. I promise you, you will never find so rich of a stock from bones alone. Feet give the stock lots of gelatin, and gelatin is responsible for mouth-feel and body in a good stock. Try it once and you won’t go back to feetless stock again. 🙂
You can see my full chicken stock recipe or my full beef stock recipe to learn how to soak the bones, add the veggies and make beautiful, flavorful bone broth full of nutrition.
Want to learn more? Check out the related posts below from our Bone Broth Marathon last Winter. You can also see our follow-up post, Five More Bone Broth Mistakes You Might Be Making.