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Delicious and Versatile
It's hard to beat a really good soup. It's great for cooler weather, when you're sick, or as a substantial dish all by itself. Sure, you could open up a can of soup or a box of broth. It's easy and predictable. I'm guilty of keeping watery, flavorless broths and soups in my pantry, too. But after I started making my own bone broth, it opened up a world of soups, sauces, and early morning beverages. The applications for bone broth are vast and the time you spend making it are well worth it.
What's So Good About It?
I'm glad you asked. Besides being very tasty, it's chock full of nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamins A and K, fatty acids, and a wide variety of other important minerals that your body needs to be healthy. Bone broth is also very filling if consumed by itself. The warm, unctuous flavors delight the tongue while the true star of bone broth goes to work. I'm talking, of course, about gelatin.
The ingredient that gives Jell-O that signature jiggle is found in animal bones. Once the broth has cooled, if it gels up like the classic dessert, you know you've done your job. This gelatin, along with collagen, is very good for your body, especially your skin and bones.
Homemade bone broth is also very affordable and economical. You can make use of leftovers and scraps instead of just tossing them in the trash or letting them go bad in the fridge. Save your bones, put them in a plastic bag and freeze it for future broths. Some butcher shops and grocery stores even give away their bones for free. Store-bought broths and stocks can start to add up when all you really need is bones and water.
Humans have been making bone broths for centuries. Before they knew about nutrients and vitamins, they knew that adding bones adds flavor. It's a tried and true method used for both cooking and medicine.
Not a Substitute for Medicine
Bone broth is not a replacement for medicines and is not a cure for any known illness, except for maybe being "hangry" (hungry-angry).
Time to Stock Up
Making bone broth is, at the most basic level, a simple task. You put some bones in a pot of water and cook it for a long time. But since you're spending hours and hours of your day watching this pot simmer, why not make it the best that you can?
When I make bone broth I use mostly chicken wings and oxtail, but any kind of bone will do the trick. My previous batch had chicken wings, smoked pork shoulder bone, oxtail, pork neck, and smoked ham hocks! With the hocks and pork shoulder having been smoked, it added an entire other level when it came to flavor. Unless you have religious or medical diet restrictions, feel free to mix and match your bones.
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Before you drop those bones in the pot, you need to roast your ingredients until they get some color. This adds more flavor to the broth and gives it a beautiful golden color.
I like to have some vegetables in my broth. I use the soup staples: onions, celery, garlic, and sometimes carrots. I also use a teaspoon of whole peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves. And please, please, please wait to salt your broth until after it's done. Waiting to salt gives you more control on the future uses of your bone broth.
Use these steps when preparing your homemade bone broth. Some of these steps are optional.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Celsius.
- Lay your bones in a large pan and place the pan in the oven. (Optional: Apply some oil to the meat and bones to assist in browning.)
- Once the bones have achieved the desired color, transfer them to your stockpot. (Optional: If you are adding any vegetables and/or herbs to your stock, add them to the stockpot now.)
- Fill the stockpot with water until it just barely covers the ingredients. (Optional: Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. This assists in extracting nutrients from the bones.)
- Bring the stockpot to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
- While cooking, there can be a gray foamy scum that comes to the top of the pot. This can be scooped out and discarded. It's a sign that nutrients are being extracted and will not ruin your broth if you don't scoop it out.
- Fat will also start to rise to the top. You can scoop that out as well, but I wait until the broth is finished cooking and has fully cooled in the refrigerator. The fat is easier to remove when cold.
- The length of time cooking depends on what you are trying to achieve. I let mine simmer for at least 12 hours. The best results take a long time.
- Remove from heat and strain the broth. Let it cool and refrigerate as soon as safely possible.
Isn't There an Easier Way?
Yes. You can use a pressure cooker to significantly reduce cooking time. But if you're trying to get the most bang for your buck, I'd highly recommend doing it at a low temperature for a long period of time. You can extract nutrients and gelatin using a pressure cooker, but if you do I'd recommend using ingredients with more collagen in them, like chicken feet or ham hocks.
How to Use Bone Broth
You did it! Use your bone broth in recipes like:
- Or just drink it out of a mug with a pinch of sea salt!
Bone broth is a delicious food and a rewarding recipe to cook because of it's awesome flavor and flexibility. You'll be glad that you tried it!