Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bone Broth: My Two Secrets for Making Beautiful, Abundant and Affordable Bone Broth

So, in my last post, I confessed my bone broth craze.

I've put into baby's cups.  I make soups and stews with my homemade broths all winter long.  I cook it into my rices and my noodles, I cook it into rice porridge.  Bone broth is a staple in my kitchen.

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is around the corner and everyone is  comparing notes on their turkeys, whether they are going to deep fry or roast them, and whether they are buying frozen or fresh, local or organic.  Whatever you choose to buy, I'm begging you:


Don't throw away those bones.

Nothing breaks my heart like the sight of bones in the trash.  It makes me cringe to think of all of the beautiful soups and broths that could. have. been. 

So, today, I'm going to give you a step-by-step plan so simple that it will take just a few minutes, and you will be rewarded with days of delicious brothy soups in December.  So do yourself a favor and put aside that turkey frame, and after the festivities have died down, and everyone has recovered from their pie-and-turkey coma, come back here and follow my steps to making easy and delicious bone broth.

Over the years of making broth, I have been able to save time and money using two simple broth "secrets." I have shared these tips with many of my friends and even my mother! Here is how I streamline this practice in my kitchen so that I have a steady and simple way to keep an abundant supply of beautiful bone broth.

Here's what you do:

STEP ONE:  Take the meat off the bones, but save the bones.

Yes, this is a little messy.  No one really loves this job, but food is precious and life-giving.  After the meal is over, remove all of the meat from the bones.  If you are using some kind of poultry, remember to always turn the bird over and remove all meat from the back of the frame.  I have noticed that many people forget that there is a lot of good meat there.  I find it easiest to remove meat from bones when the meat is still slightly warm or at room temperature.  If you don't have time or inclination to make broth at that moment, you can freeze your bones in a ziptop bag for later use.

STEP TWO:  Fill a slow cooker with your bones.

This is my first little secret.  You can, of course, use a stockpot or a pressure cooker, but I find that a slow cooker is really wonderful for making bone broth.  You can cook low and slow for very long periods of time, with little fuss, and using little energy.   Just keep your slow cooker going, and your broth will simmer away unattended, and will be ready whenever you want it to be.  You can come and go as you like, get up and go to bed when you like, and when you have a minute, you can check to see if your broth is ready.

I use a large six quart slow cooker like this one.  I usually fill it up with either two chicken frames, or one chicken frame and a dozen or so drumsticks, or one turkey frame.  Just fill it liberally.

STEP THREE:  Add cold, filtered water and a splash of vinegar.

See?  Simple.  Cover your bones in water.  I never measure the vinegar, but add roughly a tablespoon or two.

STEP FOUR:  Turn your slow cooker on and wait.

In about 12-24 hours, your first batch will be ready.  You can let it go as long as you like, as long as the liquid levels stay high enough.  Your house will smell so delicious! A word of warning:  if you start the first batch of broth in the evening, you may awaken in the middle of the night with the smell of soup wafting through your bedroom.  I'll leave it to you to decide if you love or hate that thought.

STEP FIVE:  Strain and store.

Ladle out the broth and pass it through a strainer.  I collect my broth in a large lidded jug that I keep in my refrigerator.  Your broth is ready to use immediately, or you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  Once cooled, your broth should gel and a layer of fat will solidify on top, and you can remove this if you wish.


Yes, I said it!

Just do it again!

This is my other secret:  your beautiful bones have more in them!  You don't have to throw them out after one use.  You can actually still make beautiful broth with the bones, even after you have used them once, twice, or even three times!

In French cuisine, this is called a remouillage, or a "rewetting," a stock made from rewetting bones that have been used before.  The subsequent broths made are a little weaker, but they are still lovely and nourishing.  You will know that you are finished with a batch of bones when they have softened so much that they crumble under pressure, and the broth looses its rich flavor.

This method of making broth instantly doubles or triples your output.  When I make broth now, I am able to gallons of broth from one bot of bones.  I can make a large pot of soup and still have quarts and quarts of broth left over to freeze for other uses.  Sometimes I store the excess broth in ziptop bags, frozen flat and then stacked, or in wide-mouth mason jars.  Other times I reduce the broth until it is concentrated and freeze it into ice cube trays.  When I need to make rice, I just throw a few of those frozen cubes of chicken broth into my rice pot, for instant flavor.

I've tried to calculate how much I have saved by using this technique.  Before I made the switch to traditional foods, I used to buy most of my chicken broth and stock, and spent a lot of money on those cartons of broth.  Now, I am able to invest in higher quality, organic proteins and I get quality broths out of the bones for free. I calculated once that I actually make back the cost of the poultry I buy simply by making bone broth!

An abundant supply of broth has also really helped me to get a "real" dinner on the table, quickly. When I am not sure what to make for dinner, I just make soup.  If you have few quarts of delicious broth, all you have to do is look in your refrigerator or pantry and you can find a few things to simmer into the broth for a quick and nourishing meal.  A few vegetables, beans, potatoes, rice, a little leftover rice or pasta, and I can always come up with something to make for dinner.

Bone Broth Meditation

As enthusiastic as I am about bone broth (it's delicious!  it's easy!  it's nourishing!  it's frugal!), I have to say that it has done some deeper work on me.  Maybe this what happens to a person who makes bone broth over and over and over.  There is something about picking the meat off of the bones, and then putting those bones in a pot, and pouring water over those bones.

It is a death.  A watery burial.   I cover the bones with the lid.

A few hours later, the house awakens to the heavy fragrance of broth.  What are you making, mom, everyone asks, appetites beginning to whet.

I am still not sure how this this happens, this moment of transformation: when death and life intersect, the bones release their last gift.  But I do know this place, this space of death and life touching.  It is a holy, mysterious place, a place I have don't understand, even if I have knelt there before.  I pause for a moment, as we gather around the table and I serve up bowls of steaming soup: and then, I give thanks.

A Food Sonnet
by Adrienne Su
Words can't do
what bird bones
can: stew
to the stony
of one
small soul, the spent
sacrifice boiled down
to the hard white
matter that nourishes
the mighty
predator, who flourishes
on the slaughtered
animal and water.


  1. Hi Jessica!
    (My name is Jessica too, which makes me love you even more ;) I usually don't comment on anything but I just wanted to say thank-you THANK-YOU for your blog and the hard work you put into your posts! I love how real, informative and witty they are. I find when I get your emails I actually open each one and have to read each one...I NEVER do that to other blogs I've signed up for...so keep it up.
    Plus I find your blog encouraging and thought provoking...wow.
    Rejoice :)
    Your sister in Canada
    Jessica S

    1. Jessica,
      So nice to meet a very kindred spirit, and someone who shares my name! Thank you so much for your kind, generous words. Comments like this encourage me to keep putting the work into this blog! I am really humbled that anyone is reading this, let alone enjoying it so much. Thank you, friend, for visiting, reading, commenting. You are very, very welcome.


    2. Jessica,
      So nice to meet a very kindred spirit, and someone who shares my name! Thank you so much for your kind, generous words. Comments like this encourage me to keep putting the work into this blog! I am really humbled that anyone is reading this, let alone enjoying it so much. Thank you, friend, for visiting, reading, commenting. You are very, very welcome.


  2. I'm just now finding this blog....and I lerrrrvvv it!!! I was looking for a Mjaj Mahshi recipe when a food blogger visited a Jordanian home and they cooked that dish. I'd been trying to Google the name, but finally after many failed attempts found your blog! You have a fan for life!

  3. This is really an interesting blog as it focuses on the very important topic. i came to know about so many things or tips.


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