Saturday, April 02, 2022

Surprised by Bone Broth


It was only three or four years ago that I never saw myself making bone broth.  The whole idea seemed rather disgusting.  But Nourishing Traditions led to my first batch of beef bone broth, with some rather amazing results.  So then I had to (a) get Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Broth, which goes more in-depth into bone broth, its properties and its benefits, and (b) expand the role of bone broth in my daily life.  

To make bone broth, you need -- bones, among other things.  You can -- and should -- save up your leftover bones in the freezer, but if you live alone, you are going to take a long time to save up enough for the stockpot.  The greatest effort you will expend in making bone broth is in finding the ingredients.  Because supermarket butcher counters tend to get their meats and fish pre-filleted, they don't have the throwaway parts of animals.  But the throwaway parts are packed with nutrients, and broth-making is how we extract these.  Fortunately for me, one of my local grocery stores puts out knuckle bones, split cow hoofs, chicken feet, marrow bones and other such items on an as-available basis.  The day I first went looking for things to make stock out of, they had split cow hoofs, so I picked up a couple of these, plus a couple of pieces of ox tail.

Since the ox-tail pieces had some meat on them, I first browned those by roasting them in the oven.  Meanwhile, the cow hoofs soaked for an hour in water with a cup of vinegar.  This draws out added nutrients.  Then the ox-tail pieces, a couple of sliced carrots, a coarsely-chopped onion, and a few garlic cloves cut in half lengthwise joined the party, which moved onto the stove.  I brought the whole thing to a boil, skimmed the scum off the top (there wasn't much this time) and then lowered the heat to near the lowest setting and let it simmer for about 24 hours.  About an hour before stopping the simmer I tossed in some sprigs of fresh thyme.  Then I turned off the heat, let it cool for a while, pulled out the solid pieces and then ran the broth through a fine mesh strainer into another big pot, which I put in the refrigerator.  When it was completely cool, I skimmed the fat off the top, and voilà: a big pot of jiggly, tan-colored, translucent magic.  You can store it in the fridge in mason jars or freeze in freezer bags.  You can also cook it down more later to make it more gelatinous.  

I'm not terribly adventurous when it comes to cooking, so I haven't done a lot of different experiments with broth; but so far, what I have tried has been a success.  I've used it as the base for a lentil stew, for creamy pasta sauces (including good ole macaroni and cheese), I've added it to hot coffee with cream, and I've drunk it hot.  It makes creamy sauces even creamier and smoother, and it's delicious itself as a hot breakfast beverage with a spoonful of sour cream and a little salt.  

What about the health effects?  I'm noticing a decrease in joint pain and dry eyes.  I'm feeling overall less inflamed.  It does a lot to quell my cravings, so it is an aid to fasting.  Especially I'm noticing an improvement to my eczema, which has been really plaguing me for weeks.  My skin feels softer, the itching has dramatically subsided and the lesions are beginning to heal.  

I started out my bone broth adventure with a little bit here and a little bit there, but it is clear to me that the stuff needs to be a staple in my kitchen.  I can't recommend it enough.  It well repays the little effort it takes to make it.


  1. Sounds simple enough. We have a couple of local butchers so it should be easy to get bones.

    1. It is well worth the effort! Split cow hoofs and chicken feet are chock-a-block with collagen.

      I was able to do the first batch of broth on the stove because I was home the whole time. Next time I'll probably do it in the crock pot.