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Tutorial Thursday: Broth and Stock and Bones

tutorial thursday by paleo parents

 

 

 

Last week, we covered one of our staples, the miraculous cooking fat, lard. This week, we’re continuing our coverage of items you ought to always have around the house. Strangely, this may be the single most asked about food stuff we make (seriously, we have multiple hashtags in social media for Stacy’s love of it!). I think this is pretty ironic, considering how few ingredients there are and simple it is to make. But, in a way, it has its own complications and subtleties that need elucidation. So here we go! By popular demand, the secret ingredient is…

Stock/Broth/Bone Broth

EPIC Bone Broth Tutorial by PaleoParents

It’s the base of all soups and many sauces, the best way to braise your meat and even enjoyed as a warm beverage in NYC.
No matter what you call it, broth is awesome!

tutorial thursday how & why by paleo parents

 

 

 

While no one knows when the first soup was made, we’re pretty sure it was as soon as we had a pot to cook it in. After all, one of the earliest cuneiform tablet sets is a series of recipes, including stews and soups, from about 3700 BC. In fact, this person made one of them, and it sounds delicious! Soup was a staple of food in all ancient civilizations from South Asia to the Americas and some famous cultural soups have remained intact to this day. My favorite is black broth, which ancient Spartans made from pork, vinegar and blood (when you cook blood, it turns black). And of course, the most infamous “poor food” of all, gruel, is essentially barley and broth cooked into a porridge.

Why is it that broth is so ubiquitous? Well, it’s an effective way to “stretch” meat to feed more people as well as extend the time you have to eat it. Bacteria doesn’t grow in boiling water, so boiling your meat will give you extra time to eat it. Once civilization began, humans figured out all the ways that broth could be used to feed people, from porridge to soup to braising.

Health Benefits

Of late the health benefits of broth have been touted far and wide, spearheaded by the Weston A. Price Foundation, usually in articles beginning with South American proverbs. Now while we firmly believe that broth is awesome and beneficial, I think they may be overstated a bit. Yes all those minerals are in there, like calcium, phosphorus, folate and magnesium, and perhaps, as is often touted, they are in “the most usable form,” but the amounts in a typical serving are not huge.

The health benefits we find most convincing come from the collagen that is contained in bones and joints. The collagen in the bones becomes gelatin in your broth. The main amino acids in gelatin are glycine and proline, both of which are incredibly important to your health. Among other uses, glycine is important in healing wounds, building joints and building muscle and proline helps to clear plaque from arteries. The Paleo Mom goes into more detail here.

Essentially, you need gelatin to be in your best health and the best way to get it is from bones and connective tissue. And that is the best reason to drink some broth!

Pastured vs. Not

This is one of those cases where source does not much matter to obtain the health benefits. Bones are only formed one way and there will not be much difference in the stock from a conventionally raised animal and a pasture raised one. If we get our favorite take out meal, Peruvian roasted chicken, you better believe we’ll be making stock from those flavorful roasted bones!

Varieties

You can make broth or stock from any animal that has bones. While the most common varieties are beef and chicken (at least according to grocery store shelves), you’re welcome to make pork stock, lamb stock, fish stock, or, most prized of all in fancy kitchens, veal stock. And the vegetarians in your life are certainly making vegetable stock, though there will be no gelatin in a vegetable stock.

Each type has it’s own best practices to making it that you should be aware of, which we will address later.

tutorial thursday tools & tips by paleo parents

Tools

The only tool you’ll need is a pot. We recommend getting a big one! We use a 12 quart one,Β  but maybe you’d prefer a bigger 20 quart pot like this one. Stainless steel is best for this task and the most ideal ones will have a heavy bottom. Of course lots of people make stock in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and we are going to try out the InstaPot after it’s opened after Christmas.

We also recommend below using a colander (like these) and big wide mouth mason jars (like these) and a funnel (like this one), but it’s really not rocket science so fancy tools aren’t needed – we promise!

Tutorial All About Bone Broth by PaleoParents

Tips

There are many tips to making great broth and here are a few:

  • When you boil bones, often times a scum will rise to the top, especially with pork and beef bones. It’s bitter and ugly, so you’ll want to skim it off when it forms. Our secret trick is to bring just the bones and water to a boil for ten minutes, then dump out the water and start the broth over. You’ll find that much less scum forms.
  • If having a clear broth is important to you, don’t bring your broth to a boil! Turn down the heat when it’s just simmering and your broth will be clearer at the end.
  • Some recipes out there have you put in vegetables and then cook you stock for very long periods of time. If you do that, your stock will end up bitter. If you want nutrient-rich and flavorful aromatics in your stock, add them only for the last hour or two.
  • After you are finished cooking your broth, refrigerate it. That will bring the fat to the surface which you can skim off and discard or use as a cooking fat later.
  • If you are reaching the end of the storage time for your stock, you can “reset the clock” on it by bringing it to a boil again. This will kill the bacteria that are growing in there and give you another 5 days or so of fridge life. You can repeat this process several times to prevent spoiling.
  • If you want a stock that is super rich in gelatin, you want bones that have more collagen and cartilage. That means joints! Knuckles, feet, backs, necks and heads are ideal for this. In fact, you’ll often find packages containing chicken feet, backs, and head just for this purpose. It may be a tad disquieting, but that stuff is extremely nutritious and you’ll never be able to tell from the final product.

All About Bone Broth by PaleoParents

This incredibly gelatinous collagen-rich broth was made from pork feet, it’s a SOLID which means lots of gelatin!

 

Itutorial thursday recommendation & recipes by paleo parents

How to Make Broth and Stock

The first question you have to ask yourself when making broth or stock is “What bones am I using and what’s been done to them previously?” Like I said, any bones will work, but different circumstances call for different steps. If your bones are previously roasted, throw them in the pot right away. If you have thicker bones like beef bones, lamb bones, or veal bones, you’ll want to roast them first to improve the flavor. Place them on a roasting pan and roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes to brown them. Some will tell you to salt and pepper them and, sometimes, coat them in tomato paste. I consider that to be unnecessary. Once roasted, place them in your stock pot.

Add one tablespoon each of salt and whole black peppercorns to the pot. Do not add ground pepper, because you’ll want to strain out the pepper later. Pour in three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. The acid helps to extract the mineral in the bones and break down the collagen. Cover your bones with water by at least an inch. Some considerations on the amount of water include the fact that some liquid will evaporate and that the more water you have at the end of cooking, the less concentrated your broth will be. In our home we love a concentrated broth, both for it’s dense nutrients as well as rich flavor. You can always add more water when cooking if needed!

Place your pot on the stove at high heat and bring it to a boil uncovered. Cover and reduce the heat. Now we come to the subject of cooking times. The idea here is to cook it long enough to extract as many nutrients as possible without making it turn bitter. This is a different amount of time for each type of bone.

  • For fish and seafood stock, only simmer for 20-30 minutes, and never over an hour. It turns bitter very quickly.
  • For chicken stock, the bones are smaller and hollow. You’ll find that your bones will be cooked in 24-36 hours.
  • For pork and lamb bones, you’ll have a finished stock in 24-48 hours.
  • For beef bones, the thickest around, you’ll need to cook at least 48 hours and some will leave them one for up to 72.

How do you know if you’ve gotten everything out of your bones? If you can pick up the cooked bone and easily crush it in your hand like Gregor Clegane, it’s ready. Personally, I love doing this just for the satisfaction. If your bones are too tough to crumble in the palm of your hand then keep cooking until you can!

Towards the end of cooking, with only an hour or two to go, add your aromatics. Traditionally in Western cuisine, this would be carrots, onion, and celery. I like to add garlic as well. Don’t bother peeling these, as you’ll just be straining them out. I just quarter the onion and break a few carrots and celery in half. Add herbs, if you wish, tied up in cheesecloth for easy removal. The French use a bouquet garni featuring bay leaves, parsley and thyme. Other cultures favor different flavors, of course. Our favorite flavors for broth come from those in Vietnamese pho, where the broth is enhanced with fish sauce, ginger, anise, and cloves (our recipe is in Beyond Bacon).

Tutorial - All About Bone Broth by PaleoParents

When done, strain your stock into a bowl through a colander, then pour your stock into your storage container of choice, using a funnel if you have one to avoid a big mess.

Storage

We have quart size mason jars that are used exclusively for broth. The glass means that you can pour into it while hot and the seal is tight and secure so as to make spilling difficult. We try to use our stock within one week of making it to avoid spoiling, although shelf life can be extended if you reboil your stock. It also freezes well (just don’t overfill glass jars or they’ll shatter, which we learned the hard way), but we recommend freezing from cooled refrigerated stock instead of still steaming hot.Β  You can keep it frozen for months.

How to Use Stock

We use stocks in a number of ways, including the obvious soups and stews. But broth also makes a wonderful flavor addition to sauces, braised meats, and much more! These are some of our favorite recipes to use it!

If you, like us, are still clamoring for information on this epic nutrient-dense food, we highly encourage you watch the following video from AHS 2014. It’s seriously one of the best things, ever.

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  • Laurel

    Awesome article, thank you! What are your thoughts on reusing larger bones in another batch?

    • We always cook our bones until soft, making them completely used up and no need for reuse (and you only need to cook once!).

  • Sara

    I read you can reuse bones but have not been able to do so with much success. The broth is never gelatinous. Do you have any tips on reusing the bones?

    • People who advocate reuse of bones aren’t cooking them until they’re soft. Once the bones are soft all of the mineral and other nutritional content has been taken that can be. You can then dilute it if it’s too concentrated for you but then you’re only having to cook once.

      Per our recommendations, the key to gelatinous broth is the use of cuts with lots of joints, like feet. Ox tail is magical too!

  • Debby

    72 hours? That’s like three days straight? Do you keep adding water? What about sleeping? And the fact that I work outside of the home. Can I do it in a crock pot? Am I misunderstanding? I’m making my own broth because my daughter has Celiac disease and store bought broth contains things that cause problems.

  • Mobile App Developers

    Hi, Really great effort. Everyone should read this article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Christine

    I also got an InstaPot for Christmas and broth is the first thing on my list to make! I bought a 1/4 cow this fall and have the bones in the freezer. Time to get defrosting! By the way, this post is awesome! I love this series. πŸ™‚

  • Kal

    I got the Instapot and I’m all over making bone broth – I can’t find bones other than chicken carcasses. No beef, veal – nada. Where do you buy bones?

    • Give your local butchers and/or coops a call – they should have soup bones for sale. Some may refer to them as dog bones, I know our coop does, but many refer to them as soup bones. US Wellness Meats also carries ox tail which is an excellent option for broth.

    • Chelsea Booth

      You can also go to Asian markets. We live down the street from a Korean grocery store and they have the BEST BONES. All kinds and not too expensive either!

  • Kim Germano Howell

    We raise our own beef and buy a whole pig locally. I would love to make bone broth using my crock pot. Can you give directions for doing it that way? For instance, when would I add the aromatics? How long would I cook it? Thanks! Also, since we have the option of how our animals are processed what parts do you suggest using for bone broth? Right now I have neck bone and back bone from the pig and soup bones from the beef. But we’re getting ready to process another pig in a couple of weeks.

    • All of this is in the post. You can try it in the crockpot, but it will likely take twice a long. You’d still add the aromatics in the last hour or two of cooking. You’d want to get good joints with lots of connective tissue. Feet and knuckles are ideal.

  • MeMe

    I made my first batch f bone broth last week but didn’t do quite as much research as I should have. I used beef marrow bones and cooked them in a crock pot for only 24 hours. The broth wasn’t gelatiny and the bones were still quite hard when I took them out. They’re now in my freezer. I’ve now done a lot more research and will add oxtail and chicken feet or neck to the next batch. My question is whether it is worth roasting those used bones before making my next batch? I’m not sure if the fact that they’ve been cooked for 24 hours has any effect on the value of roasting. Also, if I don’t roast them is it still better to thaw them before throwing them into the water?

    Thanks

  • Sue Knause

    I’ve made my broth and it is nice and gelatinous!!! So I have frozen it by the cup so I can thaw what I need as I go. My question is do you water it down to cook with? So in other word, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of broth, does that mean just the gelatinous measurement or do you water it down? Thanks!

    • It would be ok to not to (we like the intense flavor as is) but concentrated broth can be lowered to 1:1 with water.

  • Kylie

    Hi Stacy, you mentioned using a pressure cooker. Does it change the properties of the stock in any way: I had read somewhere that just below simmering point was the best way to make broth, and a pressure cooker goes way over that, but ends up being lovely and gelatinous. So glad you have found good health!! Kylie

    • Not as far as we’ve seen. Seems to extract the nutrients most efficiently and is a method used in many restaurants.

  • Cecy

    Hello!!! I bought the innstant pot, put it twice the max time, 120 min x 2, but beef bones were still hard, how long should I leave it? Thank you