Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Freezing Bones: Bone Broth, the perfect Winter Beverage?

It's snowing again.

It's snowing....again. I posted the above picture to make Ruthy laugh. We are worried about a small storm today and one tomorrow that will add 3-6 inches. Yes, we are worried about inches. After last week's record cold and a cabin fever epidemic, this wasn't really what we wanted.

Snow is bad news for some but it is plain dangerous for others, including ManO and me. ManO, due to the type of stroke he had, is banned from shoveling forever. That means I get to do the heavy lifting, including making an igloo because the snow and ice could only be removed in blocks.
Of course I forgot to get a picture of the completed igloo. But you get the picture.

But I have to be careful in slick spots. I have early onset osteoporosis which means my bones can break easily. Not fun.

Which leads me to the latest craze in healthy eating, "bone broth." I wondered what bone broth different from the stock I've made for years. On my own. I knew my stock was healthier, great for bone building and the immune system. No preservatives either. But why the craze now?

Well, we can only eat so much kale. We have diet ADD. We are always looking for the next thing that will help us live longer, smarter.  Maybe it's the love of time travel. Now we're going back to days when Grandma always made her own broth, shoved it down throats when the flu struck, and made use of everything when an animal was butchered! The more broth we drink surely the healthier we'll be.

In reality, the truth is somewhere in between. In addition to a homemade broth being full of minerals, amino acids, and gelatin that are good for the body, a number of bloggers talk about drinking broth as a substitute for other bad-for-you beverages or foods you shouldn't be eating. Some folks are drinking one cup a day. Others, five and getting sick of it pretty quickly. Too much of a good thing is just too much. Fasting with broth may be a great cleanse once in a while but isn't a well-rounded diet.

If you want to take the broth plunge, don't overdo but make your own. Don't go to broth bars springing up like Starbucks. You will be healthier and your frugal side will thank you.  

Homemade Bone Broth 

I've figured out the difference between my stock recipe and the new ones out now. Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to break down the bones more efficiently. The cooking times vary as well. I've seen recipes that say to simmer beef bones for 24 hours or just six. If I'm lucky, I'm able to cook my chicken bones down for 6-8 hours.And believe me I have bones. Instead of a serial killer, I'm a serial cook. If I've cooked a chicken or turkey or bone-in beef roast, I hide the evidence.

I cut off all the meat, wait for the bones to cool, stick them in a freezer bag and hide them in the freezer.

How do I  make my poultry stock? It's sort of a mish mash. I've not changed anything from all my reading on the elixir of bones but I'm adding those two tablespoons of vinegar. I'm also trying to make time to cook my stock on days when I can watch it simmer longer!

1) Using a large stock pot, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, brown an onion if you have one, celery if you have that. Or both.

2)  Add your chicken or turkey carcass and cover with water, approximately four quarts.

3) Add a quarter cup sea salt (or very little if you prefer to add salt to taste), a teaspoon of ground celery seed if you didn't have celery, and whatever herbs or other veggies like carrots you like and two tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

4) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low for minimum of three hours. I like to cook mine six to eight hours. Always check your pot regularly to make sure you haven't boiled the bones dry. Consider adding a bit more water as you go along. You will still have the concentrated broth at the end. You can also google recipes that use a crockpot but ours is broken.
5)  Cool the broth. Use either a gravy/fat separator or put the broth in the refrigerator overnight and skim off the fat the next day.  I tend to use my glass separator (don't get me started on heated plastic) because I like to make this a one day process. 

6) I also store my broth in glass freezer-friendly containers. I can microwave them (lid off) straight from the freezer. Easy to use and less chance of bacteria growing while you wait for it to thaw.  One to two cups in the small containers, four in the larger ones.

My chicken/turkey broth stored in different size glass containers, some with a cup of meat included.
 7) To use: Just take out of the freezer, take off the lid and microwave for three minutes on high to thaw enough to pour out of the container. My concentrated broth, if I go the full eight hours, is strong enough to be diluted 1:1 with water in recipes. The perfect amount for my soup. If I want to make gravy or make a "cream of chicken soup" for use in casseroles, I leave it full strength, adding a bit of cream or milk.   

So, are you a serial cook? Do you hide your bones for later use? Could you drink broth on a regular basis or only when you have a cold or flu? Are you battling osteoporosis and finding other ways to get minerals into your diet?  



  1. DH has been drinking apple cider vinegar for health. I can add a little to a broth. I just made a turkey broth on Saturday but I didn't cook it for that long. I'll have to give this a try. Thanks, Julie!

    1. There are turkey bones in the freezer here. As Belle mentioned below I had to give up apple cider for my health. But it does wonders for many folks.

  2. I was drinking apple cider vinegar for a while to combat acid reflux but I had to stop because the cure was worse than the disease. LOL. I have to admit Julie I was waiting for you to reveal where the bodies are buried. Sort of like an episode of Bones. I haven't made broth for a while. We've been very healthy this winter, no doubt due to the freezing temperatures here in Connecticut. The germs have been killed off. Thanks for the recipe. I'll dig it up (pun intended) the next time I want to make chicken soup.

    1. LOL, Belle! I know I've hoped for years where it would get cold enough here in GA just to kill mosquitos and fleas. But then when it does get that cold, I'm miserable.

      Boy, I sure wish it would have killed the cold viruses we've had this year. It's been an unusual winter for us with repeat illnesses.

    2. BelleC, I agree. I tried it but felt like the cure was worse than the cause.

      I should have written it that way but there is a reason I don't write suspense!

  3. I've had to drink broth before medical tests, and I don't like it plain like that! Give me chicken noodle soup instead! :)

    Thanks for sharing, Julie! I usually buy broth (organic, free range). But I bet homemade is so much better.

    1. I used to do the same Missy but this is definitely cheaper and even the organic has some ingredients I am allergic to!

    2. I used to do the same Missy but this is definitely cheaper and even the organic has some ingredients I am allergic to!

  4. ok I think I'm better off not knowing about broth :-( gag...I'd never have made it in the old days!

    1. Kind of how I felt about beets and other vegetables my grandmother canned for years!

  5. Remember that liquid diet I had to endure last year, Julie? It started with nothing but clear liquids for 4 days. 4 very, very, VERY long days filled with broth and jello. By day 4, I could only do the jello. I'm not sure broth will ever sound good to me again. Cooking with it is one thing, alone, doubtful. That is, unless I'm on a liquid diet. ;)

    1. I read several articles about people that drank it straight for days and had the same experience. That is why overdoing is never a good idea. The worst for me if I had to do that is I can't have jello!

  6. Trim Healthy Mama has a recipe called Good Girl Moonshine that's apple cider vinegar based. You can check it out here.