When you add a little vinegar to bones and water and simmer for a couple of hours, a bit of magic starts to happen. All those essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, which are embedded in the bones and connective tissue along with glycine-rich gelatin and glucosamine, are drawn out into the broth. Throw in a couple of carrots, herbs and an onion or two and some sea salt, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly delicious, deeply nourishing base for any good casserole, soup, braise, stew or sauce. Of course, if you’re interested in health, it’s likely that you will have heard of bone broth before. Perhaps you’ve even made it. But if you’re new to the idea of this bone-y crockpot of goodness, well then welcome to one of the most nutritious foods out there, and prepare to start making it a part of your diet.
Basic bone broth/stock
Basic broth calls for bones (ones with a little meat and fat on them are great, with marrow are even better), a dash of vinegar (apple cider vinegar works well, as does lemon juice), a good pinch of salt and plenty of water. The rest is up to you – you can add simple mirepoix vegetables, herbs, spices, and even dried fruits as you like. The flavour combinations are endless, but here are a few that I have found to work well:
- Lamb bones and offcuts + a cinnamon quill + star anise + prunes
- Beef bones and offcuts + whole garlic cloves + rosemary + potatoes + red wine
- Fish heads and bones + turmeric + ginger + coriander root
- Organic chicken carcasses + fresh thyme + mushrooms + garlic + onion
As for cooking times, opinions are divided and any given recipe may call for as little as 1-3 hours or up to 2 days. I personally would advise against simmering chicken or fish bones for excessive amounts of time as the polyunsaturated oils found in chicken and fish are prone to oxidation. 1-2 hours for chicken or fish tends to be plenty, while beef, lamb, veal, etc are best left for around 4-12 hours.
Herbs and vegetables can then be left in, or strained out, depending on your preference, and the stock can be reduced further to intensify the flavours. You may need to skim the surface for any scum (for aesthetic purposes). More ingredients such as spices and fresh vegetables can be added towards the end of cooking as well.
It’s a good sign if your broth, once cooled in the fridge, turns a little jelly-like in consistency – proof that you’ve been able to extract the gelatin from the bones and connective tissues into your broth. I tend to leave any solidified fat that rises to the surface in the broth, as it will preserve the stock underneath and will melt right back in as you reheat it for use. However, if you’ve used non-organic meats and you’re worried about eating the fat (particularly in the case of chicken), I recommended skimming the fat and then adding back in a little extra in the form of ghee or coconut oil. Keep the stock in sealed glass jars in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in individual portions for easy storage and future use.
Feeling peckish? 17 super snacks