Over the holidays many families cook large meals, often with a big meat dish as the focal point. Meat is expensive, and it goes fast, but when the meat is gone, hold onto the bones! Bones are full of nutrients, and can provide several more meals if you know what to do with them. At our house, bones never end up in the garbage can!
The best part of the bird, really!
My cooking blog has (or will have) more detailed recipes for bone broth, but here's a short overview:
- Bones (in the marrow) have lots of vitamins in them. The best way to get those nutrients out is to leech it out into broth. You know how you always heard that chicken soup was good when you're sick? Well, if it's made with real bone broth, it actually does have immuno-boosting properties! If you add 1 Tbs or so of vinegar to the water, it helps to get the nutrients out of the bone and into the broth.
- Adding onion, celery, garlic, or other herbs can make for a richer broth, but they are optional.
- Putting fat and skin in the broth will make it nice and fatty, and it does taste good, but those parts of the animal (especially poultry) tend to hold toxins, so many people prefer to avoid having them in the broth.
- Putting meat in the broth will not add to flavor, and it will suck the flavor out of the meat...so strip off the meat, then make the broth with just the bones. After the broth is done, strain it, and then if you want to make soup go ahead and put the meat back in at the end.
- Feel free to use bones that have been nibbled...after all, 12 hours of boiling will destroy any germs...
- If you don't have enough bones to make a broth yet, just save them in the freezer until you do have enough.
- Once made, bone broth can be canned in a pressure cooker and kept in the pantry, or it can be refrigerated or frozen. My mom puts it in a jar in the fridge to cool, then freezes it in ice cube trays. Once it's frozen into cubes, she stores it in a big ziplock bag in the freezer. Anytime she has a recipe that calls for broth, she can easily grab a cube or two or five and toss them in!
- Oh yeah, real bone broth tastes better than that canned stuff or *gag*choke* MSG-laden bullion. Use it for soups, sauces, graveys, or even cooking rice.
Chicken and Turkey Put the bones in a crockpot, cover them with water, and let them simmer at least overnight (they can stay as long as 2 days if you don't get to them sooner) . If you don't have a crockpot, you can let them simmer on the stove for at least 4-5 hours (ideally 8-12). At this point the bones will be bending, breaking, and literally falling apart. This is good--it means you've gotten all the nutrients out of them! Strain out all the solids, and voila, the best broth you've ever had.
Beef Same as chicken, just stick the bones in a crockpot or stockpot, and let them simmer for hours...
Ham Take that hambone and stick it in the pot along with any bits of leftover ham, plenty of water, and lots of beans. My mom always used pinto beans, my mother in law uses white 'navy' beans. You can pretty much use whatever you like. Add some onion, garlic, celery, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Let it simmer all day...
Pork (ribs etc) Honestly, we give these ones to the dog. She loves them. I have never tried making stock with them, and I don't know how well it would work. On the other hand, we don't eat pork that often.
Mmmm, nothin like real broth!
(I wish you could smell this picture!)