Bone broth is a staple in our household because it adds flavor and richness to our meals and minerals at the same time. Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in making their own bone broth and some people struggle with finding an efficient technique. Here we share our observations on bone broth from our own kitchen, peppered with some food science factoids.
As we make more discoveries in our own kitchen (such as the twelve batches of gelatin-rich bones broth we got from the same bones), we will update this article.
The best bone broths set up like “Jello” after they cool in the refrigerator. This is perfectly normal and even a really good thing.
The food movement raves about gelatin (including those members in this house). Long-ago doctors such as Dr. Pottenger (of “Pottenger’s Cats” fame) raved about its use as well. An article in the Townsend Letter suggests that gelatin may remedy a host of digestive and malnutrition-related conditions.
Gelatin is so prized among certain groups of consumers (“raises hand”) that a successful batch of broth is measured by its jiggly-wiggly texture. If you do not have a lot of jiggle and wiggle in your broth, do eat it anyway and enjoy it. Some batches may have too much water for that gelatin to shine through. Some bones do not have much gelatin in them but still make a great-tasting broth.
Check out our video on our big gelatin experiment using beef feet. The video shows seven days of gelatin broth but we ended up getting a total of twelve days of gelatin from the same bones.
If you like bone broth and gelatin, be sure to “like” this video on YouTube.
Many people are interested in learning about the mineral content of their bone broth. The problem is that its content will vary greatly based on the dilution of the broth itself and, to a lesser degree, such factors as the actual bones used and additions to the broth such as vinegar.
We can look to the mineral content of bones themselves to give us a decent idea. There is also an 80-year-old study on the topic that a reader pointed out to me.
In general, as I discuss in the video below, I would not get too caught up in the precise mineral content because you are not going to find it. Bone broth adds richness and goodness to your meals and some minerals at the same time.
Continuous Bone Broth
Bone broth is a food worthy of having in your kitchen all the time. To aid in your kitchen prep and your budget, consider keeping a crock pot dedicated to bone broth. You can have bones stewing all the time, adding vegetable scraps (and even new bones), as you have them.
We often start with a fresh batch of bones and then take great care in using the first and second batches on special soups. The “first run” broth will be the best and should be savored accordingly. As you get into your third batch and beyond, start using your broth to cook beans and rice. You will still get nutritional benefit from those bones, but the flavors in the beans and rice will help carry the dish.
How many batches of great broth you get depends on the bones. We recently got three batches of wonderful broth from bison bones. Check it out in the short video below.
Your broth may be improved in a number of ways. You can add vegetables such as onion, carrot, and celery to your broth. Do not spend much time chopping them or removing their ruffled leaves and skin. If they are clean (and cut in half in the case of an onion), add them to your broth. Add anything else you have laying around as well with the exception of broccoli, turnip peels, cabbage (and related foods such as brussel sprouts), green peppers, collard greens, and mustard greens. They will make your broth bitter.
Most of our bone broth batches have no vegetables whatsoever and they are still great. There is no set recipe for success.
Some people do add meat along with bones to make a bone broth. Some people will put an entire chicken in the crock pot to simmer and then use the broth for soup and pick the meat off the bones. People will also grab meat from their refrigerator and add it to their bone broth.
In our own kitchen, you will never find meat in our crock pot unless it is clinging to a previously-cooked and picked-pretty-clean bone. In the case of chicken, it is far more tasty to roast the chicken, let your family pick the meat off the bones, and then make broth from the bones themselves. The quality of the chicken meat itself is far superior when it is roasted. You will also benefit more from the bones themselves since they will be more directly exposed to the broth water.
In the case of other meats, we have yet to find a meat that is not cooked better some other way. There surely are exceptions.
In any case, prepare your meat and enjoy it and then, separately, prepare your bone broth.
People add vinegar (to the tune of two tablespoons per gallon, give or take) to draw more of the mineral content out of the bone. If you do this, use a decent-tasting vinegar like apple cider vinegar. In our opinion, white vinegar ruins broth, but that is a personal matter. If you like white vinegar in your broth, by all means, add it. If you are making a spicy and flavorful soup, the type of vinegar probably does not matter anyway since it will be lost behind the spice.
Vinegar will help draw minerals out of your soup bones but we have made many batches without vinegar and just keep cooking the bones (as you will see below) until we are sick of them or they disintegrate. We get a whole lot of mineral content from our bone broth in the process.
Bone Broth And Boiling Versus Simmering
You will hear just about everything when it comes to cooking bone broth and, the fact is, that all methods work pretty well depending on your situation. If you are seeking a “clear broth,” as is common in French cooking, you want to simmer your broth. If you are using your bone broth as a base to cook beans, clear broth does not matter at all and you should not worry too much about it.
In this house, we shoot for “simmering” but we do find the broth boiling in our crock pot nonetheless and simply open up the lid a little bit more. In some cases, it may have been boiling for hours before we discovered the boiling and it is still good bone broth.
Roasting Bones for Bone Broth
Roasting bones will add a rich flavor to your broth but it will also darken it. We consider this step to be optional, but do tend to roast our soup bones when we have time to add more flavor to our broth. Watch the video below for more.
Bone Broth Storage
The best way to store broth in this day and age is in your freezer, particularly if you boil the broth down so that it is more dense and more efficiently stored. Some people will put broth in ice cube trays so that they can grab a cube or two and add it to cooking. Some people will freeze broth in larger freezer containers. These methods of storage are great if they are convenient for you.
In our kitchen, we do not freeze broth. We use broth right out of the crock pot as we make it. It is the fastest and easiest way to deal with your broth.
Bone Broth: The Type Of Bone
Any bone you have available for bone broth will make good bone broth. However, if you are shopping expressly for soup bones, do check out “beef feet,” a beef bone that is the part of cattle’s leg just above the hoof. These are labeled “beef feet” in the market. Any butcher will know your reference.
We cannot recommend beef feet highly enough. In our own kitchen, we have gotten gelatin from beef feet from days on end, using the broth one day, adding more water and vinegar to the same bones, and then using the next batch of broth for yet another cooking project. The results are documented on YouTube where you can see twelve days of gelatin-rich bone broth from the same batch of bones.
Bone Broth: Our Method
You may have noticed already that our primary method tends to be “whatever is working at the time.” There is no hard-and-fast way to make broth. We believe that whatever your method, it should be cheap and efficient.
If you are spending any real kitchen time tending to your broth, you should probably find a more efficient system. There are far too many tasks in the kitchen to let this bone broth task weigh you down. In any case, this is what we do in our kitchen:
- Brown bones in the oven if you have time. (We almost never do this, but your flavor will be better.)
- Place bones in a crock pot or soup pot.
- Add vegetable scraps as they are available.
- Cover bones and scraps with water: Set water level about one-inch above the bones.
- Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if you choose.
- Cover the pot and set on low (crock pot) or simmer (stove top).
- Keep the lid slightly ajar as the broth warms up to avoid boiling. (Or don’t worry about it, but do make sure your liquid does not boil out or you will be left wit burned bones.)
- Strain the broth about 24 hours later.
- Use the fresh broth for dinner. (Add the dinner vegetable scraps to the next batch of broth.)
- Add water to the bones again and make a second batch of broth. (Keep doing this until you are tired of it or your bones have disintegrated.)
Find author +Amanda Rose on Google Plus and enjoy your bone broth!