From-Scratch Bone Broth Is Easier Than You Think

winter soupBone broth is all the rage right now, and for good reason: it’s rich in proteins and minerals, it’s easy to make—just let bones and veggie scraps simmer for an hour or two—and it’s just about free, because you often make bone broth with ingredients you would have otherwise thrown away. People say “bone” broth because broth is typically more veggie-heavy and may not feature bones at all; stock, on the other hand, is usually made with bones, although stock may not be simmered for as long as bone broth is. Longer simmering = more of the nutrients (especially the gelatin) leaching from the bones into the broth, plus you can make more broth with the same amount of bones. Bone broth also tends to be made with bones that still have scraps of meat clinging to them. The benefits of bone broth are numerous including the amazing healing and restorative properties, helping to reduce inflammation, and that it is very healing for the gut lining (especially if rich in gelatin) .

Don’t need a double batch of broth? Think again—you can freeze half of it for later. That’s more free, delicious broth to warm your winter nights!

  • Poultry: if you roast a chicken or duck, save the carcass. One carcass is enough to make at least 8 cups of bone broth. Even if you just have bones from chicken thighs or ribs, save them, too—toss them in a freezer bag and keep adding to the bag until it’s mostly full. If you can get your hands on some chicken feet (yes I said feet!) those add even more of the gut healing gelatin properties to your broth!
  • Beef or lamb: grocery stores with butcher departments typically have oxtails, leg bones with marrow, and other delectable and useful bones on hand. If you don’t see any displayed, ask the butcher if they’ll sell them to you. Odds are those “scrap” bones will otherwise be tossed out, which means you’ll probably pay $2/pound for them.
  • Seafood: next time you make shrimp, save the shells! Save your fish bones, too. Keep adding shells and bones to a bag in the freezer until it’s almost full, then make homemade seafood stock to use as a base for bouillabaisse or clam chowder.
  • Veggies: don’t throw away your ends, stems, or roots! Any and all well-washed veggie scraps—carrot ends, celery trimmings, onion tops and bottoms, etc.—are welcome additions to homemade broth. Keep filling a freezer bag until you’re ready to make broth.
  • Aromatics: these don’t freeze well, but celery leaves, carrot tops, beet greens, and other edible veggie parts that we normally throw away are welcome in a simmering pot of broth.

To make broth, place bones/seafood scraps/veggie scraps in a large stock pot and cover with water. Fill the pot almost to the brim, but leave a few inches at the top to prevent the broth from bubbling over as it simmers. If you like, add herbs like bay leaves, whole peppercorns, and/or bouquet garni. (The latter is a bundle of whole herbs/herb sprigs tied together with string. French cooks love to use bouquet garni or “garnishing bouquet” to flavor their broths and stocks.)  Helpful tip:  Add 1-2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the stock pot and let sit for 30 minutes before bringing it to a boil to help leach the minerals into the water.

Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for at least 90 minutes if you are short on time or even better is at least 6-24 hours for an extra-rich broth.  I personally simmer mine all day and sometimes even overnight!  I usually then add a bunch of parsley about 10 minutes before its finished to add some extra mineral ions to the bone broth.  When its finished, I place a large fine-meshed colander over a large mixing bowl and pour in the broth to strain it. Be sure to use immediately as the base for soups or let completely cool and freeze for later use.

Easy add-ins for soups and stews include: canned tomatoes, canned beans, whole grains, whole-grain pasta, dried lentils and peas, and ground meat or bite-sized pieces of meat or seafood. Really, just about anything simmered in your homemade bone broth is going to be amazing!

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  1. Pat Schaible says:

    A friend adds 1 tbl. of vinegar to her broth as it simmers. She says it helps with the excretion of minerals from the bones. Is this true?

  2. Hi Cheryl, thanks for the info. I was wondering if you have a local source for chicken feet. I was getting chicken feet, gizzards, and livers at Hiller’s Market, and now they’re gone. Plum Market has marrow bones, but don’t carry the chicken feet. I know you used to get them somewhere on the east side when you held cooking classes. Can you post the possible source(s). My chicken broth just isn’t the same without them!

  3. Can you let the broth simmer in a crockpot on high for the day? Is that hot enough?

  4. You can get chicken feet at Pure Pastures in Plymouth.

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