In honor of the fact that the first pot of bone broth for the season is simmering away happily on my stove top, I thought we could discuss it a bit. My house smells like food, so that’s pretty much all I can think about.
I began making my own bone broths during the allergy-period of our family’s life together. Average, canned chicken broth, for instance, contained a number of additives to which my children reacted. For a time, I bought organic broth, but anytime I wanted to make a soup, the cost of that quickly added up–at almost $2 per quart, I might use a gallon, which often more than doubled the cost of the soup. I quickly learned that I could boil the carcass of a chicken we had already eaten at nominal additional cost, and the result was a soup that tasted superior than the equivalent made with purchased broth.
I knew there was a recipe for bone stock in my new-to-me-then Nourishing Traditions cookbook. This was a big step for me, as I formerly purchased only meats that didn’t actually resemble an animal–boneless, skinless, you get the picture. But you can’t have bone broth without…bones.
It took me awhile to adjust.
Now I gross Si out whenever I play with the internal organs of a chicken.
Moving ever onward.
A stock is a set recipe that is used as a base for other things–soups and sauces, mostly, though when we have a flu or cold, I serve it as a drink. A broth is simply when you boil something until the flavor and nutrients are leached into the water. No recipe required.
Over the years, I have moved from making stock to making broth because I felt silly buying extra vegetables only to boil and discard them, or, on the other hand, not using what was in my refrigerator because it wasn’t “on the recipe.” So now, I use what I have in the kitchen, and if it is only bones, that’s what I use.
Here are some common and not-so-common ingredients in bone broth:
- Bones. In the winters when I am making broth weekly, I buy whole chickens and roast them. I use the carcasses for bone broth. More than once I have entertained the idea of buying soup bones from my co-op–they sell lamb bones for a good price. My understanding is that lamb and beef bones ought to be roasted first if you want a dark, rich broth.
- Vegetables. Whatever you have on hand. Last night, I only had carrots, so that is what I used. I happen to love the taste of boiled cabbage in the broth, but I’m trying to stay away from cruciferous vegetables to protect my malfunctioning thyroid, so I don’t do that as often as I’d like. Onions, potatoes, and celery are very traditional for broth.
- Leaves and seeds. Bay leaves are good. Whole allspice is a wonderful addition. Juniper berries (just a couple as they can be hard on young children’s bodies). I never never do spices because I want to be able to individually flavor my soups as I go (I freeze the broth in gallon containers), but I find that these things, in small amounts, are very subtle and add a layer of depth without overpowering the broth.
- Sea vegetables. This is my latest addition. Sea vegetables are a wonderful source of nourishment, and a single strip of kombu, for instance, goes a long ways. The key with sea vegetables in a bone broth is to use a small amount. If you get too much of the flavor, the broth will only fit with Asian- or Indian-style soups. My single strip of kombu was for a 16-quart stock pot, full to the top.
- Vinegar. I really should have put this at the top, but adding vinegar (I tend to use apple cider vinegar) to the stock helps leach the nutrients out of the bones. Don’t worry, in small amount there is no residual acid flavor.
Right now I’m using a huge stock pot because I need a large amount of broth this week. But when I only need a gallon or so, I prefer to use my large crockpot. This keeps my stovetop free for cooking meals. Simmer at least 24 hours, but I have found closer to 48 to provide the best flavor. Strain before using it for cooking or storing it. An optional step is to then put it in the refrigerator overnight and then skim the fat off the top. This makes for a prettier broth, but is unnecessary if you are in a hurry. If you are making the broth to drink, though, I’d highly suggest skimming. Greasy broth may enhance the flavor of a soup (as well as encourage uptake and assimilation of any fat-soluble vitamins in the broth), but it’s hard to swallow down when you have the stomach flu.
–The Benefits of Bone Broth
–Marine Plants and Fresh Water Algae to Enhance Health, Boost Immunity, Detoxify (scroll down to read the article–there are ads and links at the top)
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