bone broth, fat-burning, nutrition, recipes

Bone Broth Prep: Why You Should Do Two Extra Steps

Bone Broth Flavor

While making homemade bone broth is as easy as throwing bones into a large pot with water, two additional cooking method steps will drastically boost the flavor of your broth-without adding extra time to the overall process!

I’ve been making both stove top and crock pot broth for nearly five years. When I added these two simple methods, the end result was extremely tasty.  Hands down, it is worth the few extra steps carved out of the total time.

Sap Bush Hollow Farm (@SapBushShannon) at the site The Radical Homemaker summarizes the benefits of bone broth nicely:

“According to Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, nutritionists and authors of the bookNourishing Traditions, broth ( and its concentrated cousin demi-glace) contains the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables in the form of electrolytes, ionic solutions that are easy to assimilate into the body.  They also contain proteinacious gelatin, which supplies hydrophilic colloids to the diet, a property that attracts your stomach’s digestive juices to the surface of cooked food particles;… Moreover, in hard times, when meat seems too expensive to serve daily, the gelatin in bone broth and demi-glace helps the body fully utilize other proteins that are ingested.  And, of course, there are the time-tested remedies of good broth for relieving the symptoms of colds, flu, myriad forms of gastroenteritis, and even bone injuries.

The Italians have an expression, “Tutto fa brodo” –  “Everything is broth.”  Nearly anything you can find in your kitchen can be added to a broth to enrich its flavor and nutritional value.  Once the broth is made, a simplified demi-glace is merely a matter of reducing it down. The five basic elements are bones, vegetables, herbs, acid and water.”

Step One: Wash

Wash the bones to remove any of the slime and sludge so that it doesn’t go into your bone broth.  This step ensures that any processing and handling will be boiled off.  The end result isn’t pretty and the realization that I was “consuming” this sludge in my past five years of broth was a little off putting.  Thanks, New York Times, for getting on the bone broth wagon and letting me in on this culinary secret.

  1. Place the raw (or frozen) bones into a large soup pot and fill with water to just above the bones.
  2. Bring to a rapid boil and continue to boil for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove the bones and place them into a broiler pan or a high sided casserole dish that is oven safe. Try not to splash the oily water on your shirt when finagling the bones out of the pot…
  4. Discard the nasty goop and water and wash that pot!

Step Two: Roast

roasted bones, bone broth, healthy eating

The purpose of this step is to pull out additional oil, or grease, from the bones.  Cow and pig bones tend to be very greasy.  While this healthy fat is necessary for the gut and keeping you full longer, too much grease is unpleasant tasting and a tad smellier.

  1. Slide those steamy, fleshy bones into the oven.
    1. High temp roast: If you want to decrease the time spent in the oven, I strongly recommend using a lid or foil to prevent the grease from splattering, which, from experience, will cause a smoky oven (and kitchen).  I’d also put a larger pan on the bottom rack as a second preventative measure.  Watch it carefully and take it out according to your time schedule. I’d keep the temp around 300-350 degrees.
    2. Low temp roast:  I set my oven to 200 degrees and left the bones uncovered; the lower the temperature, the less potential for grease splatter and fire issues.  I left mine in the oven all day (great for a cold day!).
  2. You can save the grease in the freezer for rubbing down a cast iron skillet or just discard it after it cools into a solid by wiping it out of the pan with a paper towel or newspaper.
  3. The bones will take on a deep brown-black hue and the marrow will bulge out of the open ends.  At any time, transfer the bones from the oven to either your stove top soup pot or the crock pot and continue making the broth.

One Pot Bone Broth

beef, bone broth, simmeringThis is a quick cheat sheet for continuing with one pot bone broth.  If you are a visual learner who enjoys seeing pictures, then click over to this post for Stove Top Broth and this one for Bottomless Chicken Crock Pot (you can use any bones, not just chicken, which do work really well in a crock pot).

  1. Add your freshly boiled and broiled bones into your large soup pot, add any  whole veggies and scraps, and fill the pot up with water.
    1. Great veggies for broth: sweet potato peels, celery roots and tiny shoots, onion peels and root ends, parsley, outer cabbage leaves and core, carrot ends and peels.  A small amount of mushrooms are excellent for weight loss into the broth, but keep out the garlic as it will make it more bitter.  Add fresh or dried parsley to reduce your body’s inflammation.
    2. Add raw, apple cider vinegar (or wine!) to the water to draw out minerals and nutrients from the bones and veggies.  For a small batch, I recommend using around a quarter cup and at least 1 cup for a 20 quart sized pot.  Let the pot sit for about 30 minutes before turning on the heat for maximum benefits.
  2. Crock Pot method: Turn it up to high and put a lid on it.  After at least 3-4 hours so that the overall temp is above 165 degrees, you can turn down the temp to low and continue to simmer for days.  Watch for the liquid to turn a golden, deep brown before you turn the crock pot to the lowest setting.
    1. For an infinite crock pot: Use a ladle and small cup strainer to take out broth as you need it.  Replace the water in the pot-you can even add additional bones, but be sure to wait 3-4 hours and have it reach 165 degrees before dipping into the pot again.
    2. One serving crock pot: After the broth is a deep color and the bones are brittle, carefully pour the entire crock pot’s contents through a large colander to separate the solids from the broth liquid.
  3. Stove Top method: Add all the ingredients into the large soup pot and bring it to a slow bubble boil to get the temperature up before turning it down to a high simmer.  Stir occasionally and simmer for as long as you can!  12 hours is just OK, 24 hours is better, and 72+ hours is best.  Get all of the good stuff out the bones and into you!  Keep a lid on it to decrease evaporation.  Add more water if necessary while simmering.
    • In the winter, I will put the pan outside when I’m not able to watch the stove so that I can keep it going (for days) until I’m ready to strain and store it.
    • In the summer, I will start early in the morning and let it go til dinner before turning it off and allowing the liquid to cool.  I will then strain it before I go to bed and store it in the fridge, waiting until the next day to divide it into portion sizes; the jello-like consistency of cooled broth is easier to handle.
  4. Store the broth: Refrigerated broth will last only 2 weeks in the fridge. If it smells, toss it!  The protein in the broth is what reduces its shelf life.
    1. Fresh: one quart canning jar is about 2 meals.
    2. Freezer cubes: use a silicone muffin tray (usually measures into 1/2 cup servings) to portion the warm or gelled broth, freeze, then pop them out and into a freezer bag for quick grabs.  This method is excellent for incorporating broth into any meal like cooked ground beef, sauces, and simmering pasta water.  I’ll toss 3-4 cubes into any meal as it cooks and no one ever tastes the difference; you may need to reduce the recipe’s liquid ingredients, however.
    3. Quart freezer bags or air sealed bags: this method is more time consuming and is prone to leaks if using warm broth, but is great for storing larger batches of broth that can be used for one soup meal.  I’d recommend freezing them on a tray or in a dish so that the bags don’t freeze form around the wire rack…which makes it extremely difficult to remove… 🙂

Bonus Step

gelatin bone broth storageAfter the broth is strained and the solids are separated out and tossed, a bonus step that reduces freezer or shelf space is to do a stove top reduction.  This step will greatly decrease the liquid amount of broth, creating a nutrient-dense syrup that will need water added back to it before use.

  1. Return strained broth liquid to a smaller stove top pot and continue to simmer until the quantity is almost half of what it started as. Be careful to watch the pot after an hour so that you do not burn the bottom of the pan, giving your broth an unpleasant burnt taste.  I’ve done this and not discarded this “liquid gold” but definitely did not enjoy the batch’s “smoky” flavor…
  2. When the broth is reduced to the consistency of a thick gravy, then cool it.  A cooled, reduced broth is great to work with for freezer storage as oftentimes you can just scoop out a blob onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet to freeze in individual 1-2 Tablespoon servings without needing any moulds.  When frozen through, toss them into a freezer bag.