Bone Broth: WTF?
Welcome to the Honest three-part series: Bone Broth: WTF? For the next three weeks we’ll be taking an Honest look at this recently-trendy Superfood and examining:
- What’s the Hype?
- Tutorial: Bone Broth 101
- Five Favorites: Everyday Recipes Made Better with Bone Broth
Tutorial: Bone Broth 101
After scouring many recipes and making several batches, I now present the best way to make bone broth ever…er…the way that I thought was the easiest and most accessible. I’ve decided to stick to chicken broth for this recipe, mainly because getting chicken bones is as easy as roasting a chicken and saving the carcass for broth. Bone broth can also be made from the bones of turkey, duck, beef, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, or any combination therein. I’d avoid mixing seafood with meat, but other than that: there are many delicious combinations! If you’d like to dig a little deeper, there are many bone broth cookbooks available; I’d recommend this one and that one .
In the meantime, here is my preferred way of making chicken bone broth. You can use either a whole chicken carcass that you’ve roasted yourself along with a hefty portion of chicken feet, or a combination of already roasted bones (cages, wing bones, whole leg bones) and chicken feet. I have used both a carcass with feet and a bunch of wing bones with feet and noticed absolutely no difference in taste or quality.
Make sure you use bones from chickens who have been raised organically and free-range to ensure the most nutritious bone broth. In Portland we are very lucky to have access to many butchers and meat markets who source their meat from ethical and organic farms. Just ask at the meat counter at your favorite organic grocery and you’ll be surprised to find what kinds of bones they have lying around. They are usually very inexpensive, only a few dollars per pound.
About the chicken feet: I know, they are not the cutest things at all. But they are so full of nutritious bits! The feet are mainly comprised of bones, cartilage, and connective tissue. Using feet will yield a very gelatinous broth, full of all those amazing healing properties we talked about last week. So just remember that you don’t have to eat the feet, you are just boiling the nutritious bits out of them and then you never have to look at them again…until next time anyway.
Step One: Gather Your Supplies
You will need:
- 1 whole chicken carcass (roasted, meat used for another purpose) or a few lbs worth of wing, leg, and or cage bones.
- 1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken feet, raw or frozen – pre-cooking will reduce their nutritious value
- Half an onion
- 2-3 carrots
- 4 celery stalks
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1” knob ginger
- 2 T Apple cider vinegar (the good stuff!)
- 7 quart crock pot (like this one)
- Mesh strainer
- Large bowl (preferably metal)
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Several large handfuls of ice
*You may notice the absence of salt. This is intentional. Broth is made by reducing liquid, so any salt added would become concentrated, making your broth too salty! It’s best to add the salt right before eating/drinking your broth.
Step Two: Get Your Broth On!
Place the bones and chicken feet in the crock pot. Cover with water, making sure there is about 2” of water above the bones. Turn the crock pot on high.
Meanwhile, prepare your veggies. Hopefully they are organically grown, so there is no need to peel anything. Remove any soil or dirt and then cut everything into large chunks. You want to be able to remove the veggies at the end of the cooking process, so make sure they are chunky. Garlic cloves can be halved, and the ginger can be cut into 1” strips or wedges. The rest of the veggies can be cut into 2” chunks.
Throw the prepared veggies into the crock pot and cook on high for an hour or two with the lid on.
After a few hours, reduce the heat to low and put the lid on slightly askew to allow the liquid to reduce. Cook on low for another 24-48 hours, topping the pot off with water occasionally to keep the veggies and bones just covered with water.
Step 3: Behold! Your broth
You’ve been simmering your bones for 24-28 hours. The bones and veggies are probably falling apart, your broth has reduced significantly, and it smells great. Pat yourself on the back, your broth is ready! Grab your mesh strainer, large bowl (preferably metal), ladle, and funnel. Fill your kitchen sink with about 4-6” of cold water and throw in a couple large handfuls of ice cubes.
Strain the broth into the metal bowl, using the ladle. Discard all remaining vegetable and bone pieces.
Place the bowl of hot broth into the ice water bath and stir to cool it quickly. This prevents all kinds of nasty bacteria from forming during the cooling process. Add more ice or cold water to the bath as necessary, stirring until the broth is lukewarm. Using the ladle and a funnel, transfer the broth into mason jars or other glass containers and place in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled and the fat has solidified on the top.
Skim the fat with a spoon and discard.
Store the broth in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can freeze the broth in mason jars as long as there are a few inches of headspace. You can also freeze the broth in muffin tins! Pop it out of the tins when frozen solid — just dip the tin in warm (not hot!) water, popping the little brothy pucks out with a butter knife — and store in labeled freezer bags for smaller easy-to-use portions (like for cooking grains or sipping).
If the broth has become gelatinous, make sure to gently heat it until it’s liquified before transferring into different containers.
Enjoy! Heat your broth to the desired temperature before using/drinking, and make sure to add salt! For recipes and tips on how to use bone broth every day, stay tuned for next week’s post – Five Favorites: Everyday Recipes Made Better with Bone Broth.
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