There’s no “right” type of bone to use when making bone broth. However, if you want your broth to gel when it’s cool, a sign that it contains collagen, use a combination of marrow bones, joints, knuckles, and even feet. Feet and knucklebones offer the most gelatin; common choices include chicken feet and pork trotters, which also happen to be very economical. Be sure to blanch your bones as instructed below when using animal feet.
Fish heads are second to none for fish stock, containing loads of nutrients and a delicate flavour. Note: fish stock cooks up quickly (1-4 hours), so recommended simmering times and recipes below don’t apply. The fish stock also works best with non-oily fish like halibut, cod, sea bass, or flounder—whose flavour won’t overpower the final product. The most accessible pork and beef bones are widely sold as “scrap” or “soup bones” by the kilo. So, those two are what I use most often for making broth. However, when I chance upon scrap ham bones, I buy up. They don’t make a neutral-tasting broth, but ham bones are great for making pasta sauce and chunky soups.
However, the best meat broth, at least according to my taste buds, is made with duck bones. But duck bones aren’t sold as scrap. And a whole duck is expensive. So when we buy a whole duck for a special occasion, after all the meat has been carved out, I make the most out of the carcass. For the seafood-based broth, no, I don’t use shrimps or prawns or crabs or any crustacean at all. I’m allergic to all crustaceans. So when I want a seafood-based broth, my first choice is always a combination of clams and mussels. But, my, goodness… have you tried cooking rice with seasoned mussel and clam broth instead of plain water? It’s so, so good! Looking for the best chicken bone broth? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
For the fish broth, I use the fish heads. So when I buy fish, and I have the flesh filleted, I bring home the heads and the bones and use them to make fish broth.
What Is Bone Broth?
Foodies will tell you that what we’re now calling broth is a form of stock: animal bones with some meat attached simmered for more than 12 hours with a splash of apple cider vinegar or another acid. The outcome is a nutrient-rich, gelatin-heavy liquid perfect for drinking on its own or as the base for a variety of delicious soups and stews.
The bone broth craze seems to have emerged with the spike in autoimmune and other disorders plaguing personal health. While there have been few studies on the healing properties of bone broth, the natural health community has been lauding its benefits for over a decade (and your grandmother for longer than that).
Bone broth is suspected of healing the stomach lining and improving nutrient absorption, leading to overall vitality for those suffering from damaged guts. Others say it acts on skin conditions, providing beneficial inputs of collagen and vitamins.
One study conducted over a decade ago at the Nebraska Medical Center showed that chicken soup prepared with bones had anti-inflammatory properties, particularly on upper respiratory tract infections. In addition, Harvard Health reported it to be a good source of protein while questioning other claims.
Other evidence shows that people who consume bone broth before a meal eats less overall during that sitting, making it a go-to beverage for anyone trying to lose weight. Whatever the reason you’re drawn to bone broth, you’ll probably agree: bone broth tastes good, and on a chilly fall day when seasonal colds are making the rounds, a soothing concoction of broth and vegetables clears the throat and fortifies the soul.
How Is Bone Broth Different From Stock?
This confuses a lot of people and is a common question—bone broth vs. broth vs. stock. We often use the terms interchangeably, and they’re similar, but each a little different.
Regular Broth: Has a thin, watery consistency. It’s made mostly from meat scraps (or veggie scraps) and sometimes is made with small pieces of bone. Occasionally it will have additional herbs and spices in it. But you cook it for a much shorter time. So when you see veggie broth or beef broth on sale in the supermarket, this is usually what they’re selling.
Stock: Made by cooking bones (along with ligaments and connective tissue) in water for approx 2-4 hours. Again, sometimes vegetables or herbs/spices are added.
The longer cooking time helps extract beneficial compounds like gelatin and collagen from the bones. The gelatin causes the stock to be more thick and rich (maybe even becoming like jello when refrigerated).
Bone Broth: Much more similar to a stock than a broth. Like stock, you make it by boiling bones but simmer it for a much longer time. It usually cooks between 12 and 48 hours. Because of this, even more, nutrients are released from the bones, including more gelatin, so it has a thicker texture than either broth or stock.
What Are The Beneficial Nutrients In Bone Broth?
Everyone says bone broth is good for you, but why? What specifically does it contain that makes some people refer to it as “liquid gold”?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, comprising about 30% of our total protein.1
It’s found mainly in skin, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, and it gives our tissue structure. Sometimes, people refer to it as the glue that holds our bodies together.
Gelatin is essentially what you get when you cook collagen for a long time. This is what gives the bone broth its jello-like consistency when refrigerated. Great for digestion and very soothing for the gut!
Bone broth contains 17 different amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins in the body. Amino acids are essential for building muscle and encouraging wound repair, along with many other functions. If we don’t get enough, we can see fertility issues, poor immune function, and digestive problems.
Two of the amino acids bone broth is particularly rich in are glycine and proline.
Glycine is a tiny amino acid that packs a big punch. It helps with many bodily processes, including digestion, where it’s involved in the breakdown of fatty acids in the food we eat. Check out our Melbourne best bone broth benefits here.
Glycine helps the body produce serotonin, which has a significant impact on sleep and mood.
It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and move glucose to cells and different places in the body. Normal blood sugar is important for energy levels and brain health. It’ll also help prevent long-term problems like heart disease, nerve problems, or diabetes.
Proline is another amino acid with a myriad of health benefits.
It’s an important player when it comes to repairing wounds and joints and forming collagen and connective tissue. It can also help to heal a damaged gut lining.
Proline also helps protect our bodies against oxidative stress and free radical damage and assists in metabolizing food.3
Additionally, it’s helpful for heart health because it helps strengthen and maintain heart muscles.
There are more (glutamine, glycosaminoglycans, etc.), but I don’t want to turn this into a 10-page encyclopedia article, and you have places to be and things to do.
How to make bone broth at home?
Although you can throw all your ingredients into a pot, turn on the heat, and call it a day, a few simple steps before you start will improve the flavour and quality of your bone broth.
Blanch your bones
Blanching removes impurities from the bones and helps you get the clean, clear broth you’re probably aiming for. In a large saucepan or stockpot, cover your intended bones with cold water and heat to a boil—cook on high for 20 minutes before rinsing and transferring to a roasting pan.
Roast your bones
Roasting bones for broth helps bring out the flavour and capture all the depth that will eventually imbue your soups and stews with hearty goodness. Place your drained bones into the oven on high (400-450 F) and roast for one hour or more, depending on the size of the bone and how long they take to caramelize.
Boil your boes
Now choose your method and get cooking. While you can restrict your recipe to bones and water (with a little vinegar thrown in for good measure), you can also add herbs and vegetables to increase your broth’s nutrient content. See some different options below.
In a slow cooker
Fill your slow cooker about half full with your chosen bones, then add water to cover. Next, add one whole carrot, one or two celery sticks, one onion, and a dash of apple cider vinegar. At this stage, you can also add any fresh or dried herbs you have on hand. Favourites include bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, coriander seeds, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and set on LOW for 24 hours. Skim off any fat that has accumulated on top. Cool slightly, then strain into jars.
In a pressure cooker
Pressure cookers substantially reduce the cooking time of bone broth because they trap steam and cook foods at higher temperatures. This works well when you’re in a hurry or just want to save energy and time.
Add bones, vegetables, and herbs noted above and water to your pressure cooker’s fill line, covering all bones. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Heat until steaming and cook on high for about three hours. Let cool for about 15 minutes so steam releases naturally. Cool slightly, then strain the broth into jars for later use.
On your stovetop
Start stovetop bone broth early in the day so you can simmer for as long as possible. Place 4-5 pounds of bones in a stockpot. Add three carrots, three celery stalks, two large onions, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Season with herbs and spices noted above. Heat on high until the pot is boiling, then reduce and simmer for 12 hours. Remove from heat overnight and then return on subsequent days until you’ve achieved 24-36 hours of simmering in total.
Pressure Cooker Vs. Slow Cooker Vs. Stovetop
I don’t own a pressure cooker and generally, distrust any recipe or method that requires the use of a specific appliance. But this is one of those recipes where the appliance in question significantly cuts down on cook time and makes for a significantly superior end product.
Pressure Cooker. After cooking for two and a half hours on High pressure, the bones had mostly done their job—the surrounding cartilage had begun to turn soft, but the bones themselves had not yet started to break down. Bones breaking down is a good indication that the broth will be fully flavoured and fully gelatin-rich. After another one and a half hours at High pressure, the cartilage had completely broken down, and finally, sections of bones had grown soft. Given the large (read: maximum) volume of beefy, fatty liquid in the pot, it’s best to let the pressure cooker depressurize on its own (I did this manually the first time and got hot bone broth all over my countertop and walls).
Slow Cooker. Unfortunately, a slow cooker will not get to a high enough temperature to break bones down properly, nor will its use reduce the cooking time in any real way. You might as well, then, in my opinion, do it on the stovetop.
Stovetop. While not impossible, it took the stovetop version 16 hours to get to that same bone-melty place. I’m not keen on leaving the stove on for that long (overnight, especially). But, if you’re planning on being in or around the house all day and enjoy the smell of Beef! in the air, the stovetop method works the best. Looking for bone broth recipes ? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
Let the stock cool slightly before fine-straining and transferring to smaller, airtight containers. I love quart containers or Mason jars, as they’re easy to label, store, and retrieve from the freezer as I need them. If using glass containers, leave at least one and a half inches of headspace while filling them. Liquids expand as they freeze and will break your jars (I’ve broken at least five jars this way). After just a few hours in the fridge, the stock should completely solidify, and you can easily peel off the “puck” of fat that’s risen to the top. Don’t discard this! Store the rendered beef fat (tallow) in a jar, and use it to roast wintry root vegetables, toast slices of bread, or crisp smashed potatoes.