In this blog post, I’m sharing a few practical tips for preparing, using and storing bone broth. In our small community, I somehow became a bone broth expert. I’m not a trained professional; most of what I’ve learned is from hands-on experiments and reading. Let’s start with three must-know steps to make a clear broth.
1. Roast the bones for about 30-40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. I know the bones are ready when they smell delicious and my dog is mooching around my kitchen. When I’m pressed for time, I roast frozen bones and just add 30 minutes to the cooking time.
2. In a slow cooker, cover the roasted bones with room temperature or cold water, 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and whatever veggies, herbs and spices take your fancy. Regular add-ins to my broth are carrot, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns and fresh herbs. Apple cider vinegar helps leach nutrients and other goodies from the bones. For more on the health benefits of bone broth, I recommend this book: “Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World” by Sally Fallon Morell.
3. Turn your crockpot on low and let the bones constantly simmer for three to five days or more.
While preparing to teach a Bone Broth cooking class in the Seasonal Kitchen series for the Inland Northwest Food Network, our local non-profit which connects our community of farmers and consumers, I answered questions I often hear about bone broth.
Bone Broth FAQs
Q: What kind of bones are best?
A: Marrow bones produce flavorful broth. Pork bones make our family’s favorite. We also make bone broth from beef, chicken, lamb, oxtail and wild game bones. Living in Idaho, I’ve been able to source elk and deer bones, and I heard that moose bone broth is delicious. Ask your butcher to chop the bones into crock pot-sized pieces, about 2-4 inches long. Meat on the bones adds flavor to your broth and is a hearty addition to your soup or stew.
Q: What’s your source for great bones?
A: Like the location of our huckleberry-picking spot, my bone sources are top secret. Bones are offered at most grocery stores or ask your butcher. Look for bones from animals who lived a grass-fed, antibiotic and GMO-free life.
Q: So, what’s the deal with cooking the bones for days on end?
A: The first time I let my broth simmer overnight on the low setting, I wasn’t sure my crock pot would handle the continuous heat. Instead, we awoke to the aroma of a meaty lamb broth, and our kitchen smelled medieval. Unable to resist, we dipped the ladle into the pot and drank bone broth with our breakfast. The texture of marrow bone broth is creamy and soothing. As you can see in this photo of reserved samples of pork broth after 24 hours and after four days, the color, along with the flavor, becomes deeper and richer with each day.
Q: What happens to the contents of the crock pot after a few days?
A: This question makes me think of the 18th-century rhyme, “Pease Porridge hot. Pease Porridge cold. Pease Porridge in the pot nine days old. Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some like it in the pot nine days old.” Nine days? We tend to consume broth daily, and I add water and exchange soft vegetables and herbs with new ones during the week. Or not. Sometimes it depends on how busy we are and how much attention I’m paying to the pot. In any case, I’ve never had bones go soft, not even small chicken bones. I’ve even read recipes that say you can remove the bones after five days, freeze them and reuse them.
Depending on the kind of bones and how much fat and meat are on them, some broths produce a foam or film at the top that is liquified fat and particles released from the bones. You can skim and discard these with a large spoon. The same goes for herbs and veggies that you added for additional flavor. After a few days, they can get mushy. When this happens, remove them with a slotted spoon and add new ones. It’s handy to have a fine strainer when you ladle your broth into a cup or another pot to remove the chewy bits you might not want in your mug or recipe.
Q: What do you do with all that broth?
In our family, we sip bone broth like tea or bouillon, and I use bone broth as an ingredient in most meals I cook during the week, from soups and stews to fish chowders. I also substitute broth in recipes that call for water to give flavor and a nutritional boost to our regular meal rotation, e.g., British Pork bangers, bolognese sauce, chicken curry, rice, quinoa, etc.
Q: How do you store and reuse broth?
Bone broth freezes beautifully. I use zip lock quart or gallon bags and lay them flat in my freezer, so they are easy to store when frozen. Some of my friends store and freeze broth in mason jars or ice cube trays.
Share your Tips!
Please share your bone broth tips below. I am always delighted by the tips home cooks create to save time when cooking ancient dishes using modern appliances.