April 25, 2013

Bone broth

Using bones to make broth is one of the eleven principles that the fabulous Dr. Weston Price discovered during his worldly travels studying the traditional diets of "primitive" people. It is an extremely cost-effective way of loading up on nutrients and healthy fats (especially if you're using bones and/or carcasses that you'd otherwise throw out), and makes soups, stews and kitchari taste amazing!!

Start by keeping a large freezer bag in your freezer for any leftover bones and carcasses from your meals. You might want to pull apart the carcasses (with the help of a sharp knife) before freezing them so that they fit in the pot better when you make the broth.

When I buy poultry, I buy whole birds and cut them up myself at home. Breasts, thighs, legs, and wings get frozen for meals, and the carcass and neck (and head and feed if you're lucky enough to get them) go in the large freezer bag with all the other bones and carcasses. This saves money compared to meat that's already been cut up, and leaves you with carcasses for making bone broth!

Alternatively, you can buy cut up beef bones or bird carcasses from farmers or butcher shops for a very good price if you need to make more broth but haven't saved up enough bones/carcasses to fill a pot.

Most recipes will tell you to add vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery to the pot when making bone broth. I don't bother doing this, because I hate throwing them out after - they've been stripped of most of their nutrients and flavor so they're not much good for cooking, but I feel like I'm wasting money on them. However, I do save vegetable scraps such as celery tops, bits of onion, stems from leafy greens, herb stems, leek tops, potato/yam/squash skins, roasted garlic skins, etc. in the freezer bag with all the bones and add those to the broth so they don't go to waste. You can also cut up and throw in any vegetables that are about to go bad or that you can't find a use for!

One more thing - you can make separate batches of chicken, duck, fish, lamb, or beef broth (or whatever kind of animal bones you are using), but it's absolutely not necessary. Feel free to combine different types of animal bones!

And now I present you with my bone broth recipe. I went through plenty of kitchen disasters, fire alarms, bad-tasting broth, and broth that wouldn't gel while perfecting this method, so you know it's absolutely fool-proof! ;)

Bone Broth
  • Enough bones and/or carcasses from any animal (or combination of animals) to fill your largest pot
  • Leftover vegetable scraps, or any vegetables that are about to go bad or that you can't find a use for, chopped into small pieces (avoid using cruciferous vegetables - they can make broth kind of smelly!)
  • A tiny splash of vinegar (I use raw apple cider vinegar)


  1. If you have a large cleaver or machete, chop up any smaller bones (such as poultry bones) into pieces to expose the lovely nutritious marrow inside.
  2. Dump all your bone pieces and/or carcasses into your pot and cover them with cold filtered water.
  3. Add a tiny splash of vinegar to the water and stir it around a bit.
  4. Let the bones soak in the vinegar water for 30-60 mins. This vinegar soak helps to pull nutrients out of the bones.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil and skim off the scum that rises to the top of the water. When you've skimmed off as much as you can, lower the heat, add the vegetable scraps and cover the pot with a lid. The water should be just barely bubbling, and you shouldn't be able to see any steam escaping. If the pot lid has a hole in it to let steam escape, cover it with a piece of tape!!
  6. Let the pot simmer for 6-24 hours. The longer you simmer it, the more nutrients and fat you are extracting from the bones! Check on it every couple hours or whenever you have time. You are looking for 3 things:
    • Has the water level gone below the top of the bones? If so, add more filtered water so everything is covered.
    • Is the broth about to turn from golden to brown? If so, there is probably a fair bit of meat in the pot (ie. you are using lots of bird carcasses) and it's probably time to take it off the heat. To me, the browner the broth gets, the worse it tastes.
    • Taste the broth so you can get to know how long it needs to simmer before it's just the way you like it.
  7. Take the pot off the heat and pour everything through a metal colander into a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Sift through everything in the colander to see if there are any pieces of fat, marrow, meat, etc. that you want to keep and use later. I usually throw out any leftover muscle meat - It's so tasteless and dry that I can't seem to find any way to make it palatable!
  8. Wash out the pot. Pour the broth back into the pot and bring it to a gentle boil to reduce it. This concentrates the flavor, helps it gel and makes it take up less space in your freezer. Taste it every few minutes until it's as strong as you want it, and remove it from the heat.
  9. Let the broth cool a bit, then pour it into glass jars, no more than 3/4 full since liquid expands when it's frozen (I had to break a lot of jars before I learned this lesson!). Put the jars in the fridge until they are cool enough that you can comfortably hold them in your hands, since they will also break if there is too much of a temperature difference in the freezer. Move the jars to the freezer, or else use the broth right away - it won't last more than a few days in the fridge. When refrigerated, the broth should ideally have a jello-like consistency with a layer of fat at the top. This means it contains plenty of super-nutritious gelatin! Generally the healthier the animal was, the more gelatin there will be in the bones.

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