I don’t know why I waited so long to try making bone broth (also, I had never tasted it before, but that’s another subject entirely). It could be because I had never seen any sort of marrow bones at the grocery store…and to be entirely honest, boiling a pot of bones and water didn’t sound all that appealing to me. Before I made this broth, I had made chicken broth a total of one time. I just always sort of forgot about making broth every time we ate a chicken…which is funny because I roast a chicken pretty much once a week. That’s a lot of broth I could have made!
What health benefits do we get from bone broth? Well, from the marrow of the bone, we boost our immune systems, boost blood cell function, and reap the benefits of additional collagen, gelatin, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and myriad other good things that our bodies need. The nutrients in bone broth help your body build connective tissue, suppress inflammatory activity, and increase hair, skin, and nail health. Yes, it even helps to tighten loose skin! Bones with more marrow (i.e. the larger bones) are good to use if you want more cellular repair and immune system help. Bones with more gelatinous material (i.e. the smaller bones) really help with digestive health. Click here for more health information about bone broth.
After looking at over 100 recipes online for bone broth (did you even know there were that many recipes for it?!), I put together the ingredients for my favorites and made a mish-mash of a bone broth recipe. The type of bones you use will determine what spices you include in your recipe. So…for instance, for beef bone broth I used salt, peppercorns, rosemary, etc. For chicken bone broth I would use salt, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc. If you would put it in a soup centered around that particular animal, throw it in!
Bone Broth (Beef)
1.5 – 2 pounds beef shanks (ask your butcher or grocery store person for beef marrow bones)
1 gallon (approximately) water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2-3 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
2-3 celery stalks, washed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 bunch Italian parsley, washed
Salt and pepper
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1.–If you want to do this in a slow cooker, alter your measurements to fit the slow cooker (mine fits 1-2 bones, all the veg, and a little more than a half of a gallon of water). In a stock pot, put the bones, the water, and the apple cider vinegar. Set this aside for 20-30 minutes so the vinegar can start to break down the marrow in the bones. If using a slow cooker, do the same thing, but in the slow cooker. Do not put it over heat yet!
2.–Chop your vegetables and add them as you finish chopping. It’s okay if they’re soaking with the vinegar as well–I just do that part first so I’m not sitting around waiting for 30 minutes after I’ve finished everything. Put the parsley in the pot…un-chopped…just wash and toss it in!
Isn’t that beautiful? Sorry, my slow cooker is black, so it’s kind of like vegetables in an abyss.
3.–Add your spices. I put in about 2-3 tsp sea salt, 2-ish tsp peppercorns, 2 tsp rosemary, 2 tsp basil, and 2 tsp thyme. Basically at this point, you should have everything in the pot except for the garlic–that won’t go in until the broth is almost finished.
4.–Turn on your heat. On the stove, bring it to a simmer. In the slow cooker, turn it on low. At this point is where many of the recipes differ. Some say to cook it for a few hours; other say cook it for 48 hours. I cooked mine for 24 hours. Obviously in the slow cooker this seems a little less daunting because you turn it on low and let it go. I’m sure on the stove it would be the same, but I’m a little hesitant to keep the stove on that long in our house (Number one, we live in an apartment on a college campus which means SUPER sensitive smoke detectors. Number two, we have an electric stove that randomly decides that it has been on too long and just shuts off–this is why it’s hard for me to make jerky and such). So, cook it for 24-ish hours (toss in the garlic during the last hour of cooking) and then strain all the solids out–this is easier if you let it cook for a few minutes.
5.–At this point you can eat it, refrigerate it, freeze it, whatever. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and much longer in the freezer. Add it to your recipes that call for liquid, drink it like tea, or eat it like soup!