GAPS Basics: Basic Bone Broth Tutorial: Why and How.
If you are considering the GAPS diet
or just wanting to know how to preserve or improve your families health, making bone broth is a simple but powerful culinary skill to master.
In short broth is one of the best foods you can feed your family. It is a multivitamin, a medicine for all kinds of sicknesses, and a delicious food wrapped up in one. It keeps you healthy, gets you even more healthy and helps you recover when sick. Since you control all of what is in your broth you don’t have to worry about allergies to hidden ingredients or cheap fillers.
Broth is economical and good for the earth. It uses foods that you would be throwing away anyhow and makes more food out of it. It honors the animals who died to bring you the meat and the labourers who worked to bring you your veggies. It also stretches your food dollar since broth is protein “sparing” that is you will be satisfied with less meat in your soup thanks to the broth it is cooked in.
This is the simple version of how to make broth. There are recipes and techniques that can add complication and may taste better but this tastes pretty good and is simple and basic.
What you will need.
- a large pot or crock pot
- bones from an animal with or without meat on them previously cooked or raw (whole chicken, chicken wings, backs, “soup bones”, ribs, bones from previously eaten steaks, roasts chickens, etc. I keep these in the freezer till I have enough to make a pot of stock. You can also ask at the meat counter for bones.
- water (filtered is best but don’t get hung up on the details. Use whatever your family drinks.)
- clean veggies, peelings and tops from washed veggies, nothing rotten. (optional.) I also keep these in the freezer till I need them. Classic soup/stock veggies are onion, carrot, and celery but feel free to add anything you have laying around. Onion peel gives chicken stock its nice yellow color. Do not add veggies with a strong bitter or otherwise bad flavor unless you want broth that tastes like that. (*LOD see note below)
- vinegar or lemon juice
- black peppercorns, cracked or whole (optional)*
- a spoon and or ladle
- a strainer
- containers for your finished broth. It is nice but not necessary for them to be freezer safe.
- salt (optional)
Put the bones/meaty bones/whole chicken into the pot or crock pot. Fill with water till everything is covered. Add some vinegar/lemon juice (1-4 tbsp depending on the size of your pot). You want the pot to be mostly full of bones but not overflowing. You do not want a tiny bit of bones and a pot full of water or you will have watery broth. All the bones should be underwater. Let it sit for an hour or so.
Turn the pot on high with the lid off (may need to leave the lid on for a crock pot to get hot). Some foam will rise to the top, skim that. (if you forget it won’t taste as good but isn’t ruined). Once it starts simmering and all the foam is skimmed add the veggies and the black pepper (I think it is easier to skim if you wait till this point to add veggies but really it doesn’t matter that much). Turn the heat to low, put on the lid and walk away. You want to have it at a low simmer. Just steaming is fine, some small bubbles are also fine. Leave it this way for 12 to 48 hours for chicken, up to 72 hours for beef, lamb,or pork. Check it periodically to see if it needs more water, is still hot but not too hot etc. Lately I have been using my wood stove for broth making. It seems to keep it at the perfect temp.
If you are cooking meaty bones and want that meat to eat, check it after a couple of hours and remove the well cooked meat from the bones and put the bones back in the pot. I find the meat to be tasteless if I let it go the full time. I do think that broth tastes better if there is some raw meat included with the initial bones. Chicken necks work well for this when you are making broth from mostly cooked bones since most people don’t bother to eat them and they have plenty of meat to flavor the broth. I have been known to save my chicken necks raw for the eventual broth making.
When your time is up turn it off and get out your strainer and containers. All that stuff in the pot gets strained out and tossed. (Some feed the bones to their dogs, they should be pretty soft and safe for a pet to eat.) If the bones have marrow you can remove the marrow and add that to the broth or not bother. It is very good for you. My youngest just adores the marrow and will eat it straight. The liquid you have left is broth. Add some salt (this is a to taste issue and you can add it now or when you use the broth in a recipe.) The liquid should be pretty clear, depending on how fine your strainer is.
This liquid you can now drink straight, use as a base for soups, or sneak it into lots of things.
Photo by Jen Pagano used with permission
Some ideas for how to include broth in your meals are:
Cook any veggies your family eats with this for the liquid instead of water,
put a few tbsp into tomato sauce,
add a few tbsp when sautéing veggies.
Make soup with this as the base (you may want to add some water when making soup since the foods you put in the soup will add richness to it.)
Sometimes I boil the strained liquid till it is reduced so that it takes up less room in the fridge/freezer. Then I need to just add some water to reconstitute. The fat that is on the top of this broth is good for cooking with. If making chicken soup you can get the fat off some chicken broth, melt it in your pot, sauté some onion and garlic in that then add the broth any other veggies and chicken and cook till everything is cooked through. Using premade broth and left overs I can make soup from scratch for lunch in 20 min or less.
I recently discovered that broth with a thick layer of fat on it will stay good in the fridge for literally months. I was given some beef bones a week or so before Thanksgiving that I had no room for in my freezer. I quickly turned them into broth, cooked the broth down till it was about half the volume and put the broth into 2 qt jars in the fridge (again no room in the freezer.) These jars had 1-2 inches of beef fat on the top of them. I was able to use this broth for all of my Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking and didn’t need to make more that whole time. I opened up the last jar in mid January and it was still good.
To learn more about the benefits of bone broth and some great recipes check out my book Broth: Elixir of Life
What is your favorite sneaky way to use bone broth? I would love a list of your ideas in the comments section.
* Carrots, celery, and black pepper are high oxalate foods and should probably be avoided in broth for those who are sensitive to oxalates.
This was part 1 in my GAPS Basics series. Go here to see part 2. How to make GAPS sour cream.