It’s officially cold out there, y’all, and that means it’s soup weather. I’m so ready to stew my favorite meats and veggies in an herby broth and slurp my way to cold weather bliss.
But in order to make the best soups and stews, we’ve got to start with the best broth. And I have found no better broth than a nutrient-rich bone broth I make at home. It has a deeper, more satisfying flavor than any other broth I’ve ever tasted, it gels up perfectly in the fridge (a well-known sign of a good broth), and provides gut-healing nutrients for your stomach.
We, as a Western society, have really gotten out of using all parts of an animal. In doing so, we’re missing out on some key nutrients that our bodies need to function in a healthy way. In addition to the vitamins and minerals found from eating organ meat, we’re missing out on some good stuff in the joints and bones of the animals we eat! And we can get those nutrients by making delicious, homemade bone broth.
Making bone broth is so easy, and costs very little money. I like to save my bones from making chicken, steaks, and roasts in the freezer, and I’ll make a big batch each of chicken and beef broth when I have enough bones. No waste = winning! (Ugh, I can’t believe I just said “winning”….)
Health benefits of bone broth
So how can water steeped in bones be good for you? I’m glad you asked!
As we well know, chicken soup is an oft prescribed home cure for when you’re sick. And there is actually valid reason for this! If that soup is made with homemade bone broth, it can aid in the healing and repairing of your body. Bone broth has been proven to help prevent infection like the cold and flu. It contains amino acids that help thin mucus and makes it stick less to your lungs. Not only that, but it’s an anti-inflammatory as well! Bone broth also contains easy to absorb vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals.
Bone broth is also amazingly healing for your gut. And since we’re using a lot of joint bones in this recipe, we can be sure that we’re getting a lot of collagen and gelatin in our broth. These elements help to “heal and seal” our guts by promoting the creation and retention of healthy digestion juices and by healing the lining of our stomach walls. As can be imagined, this gelatin is also good for healthy muscles, bones, skin, and hair!
That’s a lot of good properties!
Tips for making good bone broth
I’ve gone around the block quite a few times trying to make the best bone broth. From this experience, I have just a few tips for the easiest, most delicious, healthiest bone broth you’ve ever tasted.
- Use LOTS of joint bones. Examples of joint bones are the necks, backs, and feet from a chicken and the knuckles and oxtail from cows. Use an equal amount of joint bones to the amount of marrow bones you use. I made beef broth using oxtail and marrow bones a few weeks ago and it was the richest, most velvety beef broth I’ve ever tried. Spectacular!
- Use a good amount of bones in general. Your bones should nearly fill the pot before you pour water around them. You want to use A LOT of bones. (Note: these bones should come from pastured, grass-fed animals to reap the most nutritional benefit.)
- Roast your bones before boiling them. This is, of course, optional, but it will give you a richer, darker, caramelized flavor that you won’t get without this step!
- To make this as easy as possible, but to yield as much as possible, use your slow cooker and make “continuous” broth for a few days. See my recipe below to see what I mean! (Yes, it really works.)
- Different people look at this differently, but I prefer to keep vegetables out of my bone broth. That’s because I want a rich, gelling, meat-flavored broth, so I limit the ingredients in the pot to bones, water, and herbs. I’d rather add vegetables when it’s time to make soup!
Consuming bone broth
I looooove drinking good bone broth by itself. I like my beef broth heated with a little bay leaf and/or diced garlic. And I think chicken broth is just heavenly heated with a little fresh rosemary and spritzed with a splash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice right before drinking. Yum!
Storing your bone broth
I used to struggle with how to store my broth. I tried freezing it in gallon sized ziplock bag laid flat in my freezer, but I hated not being able to portion it out if I didn’t want to use the whole bag. And it was a pain to try to defrost quickly. Then I tried freezing it in 1/2 cup measuring cups, but as you can imagine, I have a limited number of those and that took a long time.
Then, on the suggestion of a fellow blogger, I tried freezing the broth in a muffin tray. This was by far the best! Each disk from the muffin tray is just under half a cup of liquid, so I can always get the exact amount I need for a recipe without having the defrost the whole bag. And in just a few runs I can freeze an entire batch! It’s also super convenient in the freezer this way, because I can lay the disks flat in a bag and they take up very little space. Perfect!
So do you want to make your own super easy, crazy healthy, mind-blowingly rich and delicious bone broth? Here we go!
- Marrow bones
- Joint bones
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar [this helps to draw the nutrients from the bones]
- A few sprigs thyme and/or rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread your bones in an even layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast the bones in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the bones begin browning.
- Add the bones to the slow cooker (they should fill most of the slow cooker dish) and fill the rest of the dish with water to about one inch below the top. Add the salt, apple cider vinegar, and herbs, and cover. Turn it on low and cook for 12-24 hours.
- After 12-24 hours, remove half of the broth. Strain it into a bowl through a mesh strainer and place the bowl in the fridge to cool. Add water to refill the slow cooker to one inch below the top, cover, and cook for another 12-24 hours. Repeat for up to three days.
- Pour the cooled broth into the cups of a muffin tray. Freeze the muffin tray until the broth is frozen. Remove the broth disks and store in a freezer bag. (Use warm water and a butter knife if necessary to get the frozen broth out of the muffin tray.) Each disk is about 1/2 cup of liquid for use in cooking. To drink the broth by itself, see my notes above.