Bone broth is nothing short of magical. It’s the reason chicken soup got such a good rep — medicinal for just about every ailment. Got a cold or the flu? Warm yourself with broth. Got the stomach bug? My pediatrician just told me that the gut irritation from a bug can be healed completely in 48 hours if your diet is broth-heavy. Break your arm? Just checking to see if you’re paying attention (though I wouldn’t doubt it somehow helps that too).
The healing qualities of bone broth come from — duh — the bones. But you need to cook it for a long time — 12-24 hours — to get the maximum minerals and nutrients out of the bones and into the liquid. This was something I didn’t always know — and once I knew, I didn’t know how to accomplish.
Some people cook their stock in a crockpot, which is totally safe to leave on for 24 hours, and extremely energy-efficient. But my crockpot is only a 4-quart model, which means I’d likely only get 3 quarts of stock. If I’m going to make stock, I want to get at least double that amount, so I use my 8-quart stockpot (though I’m shopping for a 12-quart — insert tween-ish squeal here).
The trick was always how to cook the stock for long enough. I’m fine leaving the pot on the stove all day, but what about at night? My obsessive tendencies would go into overdrive if I tried to sleep with an open flame left burning on my stovetop. The simple answer? My oven.
Stock is best-cooked when it barely simmers — just a tiny bubble or two breaking the surface every now and again. If you bring a pot up to simmer on the stovetop, you can transfer it to a 200° oven, partially-covered, and let it cook overnight. Totally brilliant (and not, mind you, my idea).
Other things to consider while you gather the things in your kitchen necessary for stock-making (since I know you’re going to do it):
- Feel like you never have the right veggies on-hand when you need them? In my mind, only 3 are necessary: celery, carrot, and onion. Put a ziplock bag in your freezer, and when you have ends and pieces from other recipes, throw them in the bag instead of the trash. Or, buy celery and cut up a few stalks to freeze specifically for stock-making. You can toss them frozen into the pot.
- You can make stock from just about any type of bones (though I don’t recommend mixing them up). I most frequently use chicken, but have made beef and lamb stock after buying bones from the farmer’s market (usually $2-3 a pound). A good ratio to use is 1-2 quarts water for every pound of bones (the less water, the richer the stock).
- Once your stock is strained and refrigerated, you can scrape off the top layer of fat and freeze in Tbsp portions (I use ice trays) for future use. Animal fats are good for high-heat cooking, and add flavor and richness to soups.
- You can freeze your stock in ziplock bags, but I now prefer to use wide-mouth (NOT regular-mouth) quart mason jars. You can read more about freezing stock here.
- I have yet to try this, but I’ve read recently that you can use bones for more than one batch of stock. I’d be more likely to do this with beef or lamb bones, since chicken bones seem truly spent after simmering 24 hours. Even more bang for your buck!
- Letting the bones soak for a little while in water with apple cider vinegar helps draw out the calcium & nutrients.
- If your stock, once cold, is gelatinous, you’ve made a killer batch. Congrats!
- Stock will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Freeze for longer storage.
Recipe: Long-cooking stock (bone broth)
: The recipe shows ranges of quantities because it depends on the amount of bones you have — thankfully it’s not an exact science!
- 3-6 pounds bones (use any of one type: chicken, beef, lamb — if possible use some with meat still attached, and some with joints)
- 2-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
- 1-2 ribs celery, with tops, chopped into 2″ lengths
- 1-2 carrots, unpeeled & scrubbed, chopped into 2″ lengths
- 1-2 onions, unpeeled & quartered
- 1-2 bay leaves (optional)
- a few sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
- 4-10 quarts filtered water (1-2 quarts per pound of bones)
- In a large stockpot or dutch oven, combine the bones, vinegar, and water to cover. Let sit 20 minutes.
- Add the vegetables & herbs to the pot, and enough water to cover (only fill to within an inch of the rim).
- Bring to a simmer on the stovetop. Skim foam as it rises to the top (discard).
- Meantime, preheat oven to 200°.
- Once stock is simmering, transfer to oven and cook, partially-covered, 18-24 hours (set a baking time if necessary so oven doesn’t auto-shut-off). It’s fine to transfer the pot back to the stovetop at any point in cooking.
- Once done, strain the stock into 1-2 large bowls. Cool over an ice bath, and strain again into quart-sized canning jars (if freezing, only fill within 1 inch of the top to allow for liquid expansion).
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.