There’s really nothing better than homemade bone broth or stock. It has a depth of flavor that can’t be touched by what you’ll find in a store, even in the expensive organic brands. Bone broths are a deeply nourishing food. They’re also incredibly inexpensive and easy to make yourself at home. If you’re not already making your own broth at home I’d encourage you to start. If you’d like to know more about the history and health benefits of stock read: Broth is Beautiful.

Homemade broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, silicon and other trace minerals in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. Fish stocks contains iodine and thyroid strengthening substances. Your stock will be even more healthful if you add a little acid to the water as this helps extract the minerals from the bones, apple cider vinegar or whey is what we use. Homemade broths also contain glucosamine and chondroiton โ€“ which are thought to help mitigate the effects of arthritis and joint pain. It also contain collagen and gelatin which help nourish you skin, joints, tendons and other connective tissues (which means fewer wrinkles, cellulite, arthritis, tendonitis, etc). Why shell out big bucks for wrinkle cream, joint supplements, cellulite cream and vitamin pills when you can simply include bone broths in your diet?

Bone broths are very inexpensive to make compared to the price of what you’ll pay for lesser quality items at the store. You can use bones from roasted chickens or buy pastured bones at local farms and markets. I purchase pastured beef bones from my local farm for $1/pound. These get made into stock for us to eat and the really meaty ones get fed to the dog. I’ve heard that some folks can find bones from their local butcher for free since most people do not want them. Chicken feet and heads are also very inexpensive if you can find a local source. These make the most nutritious chicken broth if you can find them, you can add 3 or 4 chicken feet along with each chicken when you’re making stock.
If you’ve never made broth it’s really quite simple. To make the simplest broth you’ll need bones, water and an acid (like apple cider vinegar, whey, lemon juice, or even leftover pickle juice). To make more deeply flavored broths you can add vegetables and herbs. I like to add a few pieces of astragulus root for it’s immune boosting effect. Here’s some information on the health benefits of astragulus if you’ve never heard about it.

4 to 5 pounds of bone with lots of marrow and preferable a knuckle as well
(use beef, chicken, lamb, duck, pork, fish, or whatever kind of broth you want)
1/2 to 1 pound of stew meat (I usually choose meaty bones like shanks, ribs, oxtails then I don’t need to add the stew meat)
2 carrots cut into 2 inch segments
1 large onion peeled and quartered
2 or 3 cloves of garlic peeled
olive oil
2-3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon of whole peppercorns
a few stalks of celery with leaves
a handful thyme and parsley
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or whey
6-8 quarts of cold filtered water
Optional: a piece or two of astragulus root (I get mine from Mt Rose Herbs)

If you want a dark stock roast, toss bones, onions, garlic and carrots with olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven, turning once, for about 30 minutes or until browned.

Transfer roasted bones and vegetables to large stock pot or enameled cast iron pan. Use some water to deglaze roasting pan to make sure you get all the flavor and add this water to the pot. Add remaining ingredients to pot and cover bones with filtered water. Bring to a low simmer, reduce heat and simmer (between 180 and 200 degrees, which means a bubble coming up every now and then). As scum rises to the top carefully skim it off, it is said that these are the impurities and they cloud the broth.

The general rule is that larger the animal the longer you cook the stock, fish stock need only be cooked for 4 hours, larger animals overnight or for up to 72 hours. There are some people that have a perpetual stock pot which is always simmering on the back of the stove, they add bones as they get them and once a month they fish out all the solids. The stock is then used as needed while cooking. I’m considering starting to do this here at Chiot’s Run.

Fish out bones, removed any meat and marrow and set aside (you can use this for sandwiches or in soups – the marrow is delicious and healthy). Ladle stock through strainer and put in containers. Chill in refrigerator then freeze.

Some recipes say to skim fat, I do not do this. Animal fat from pastured animals is very healthy and will add wonderful flavor and texture to the dishes you use your stock in. If you do skim it make sure you save it and use it in other recipes. Fat is important for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Fat also helps us absorb the nutrients in the stock, it boosts our immune system and it helps us build and maintain strong bones and teeth. If you’re a little leery of the health of saturated animals fats read The Skinny on Fats.

I like to reduce my broth to double strength and freeze in wide mount pint jars. This way they take up less room in the freezer. I use a pint of stock and a pint of filtered water to make one quart of broth. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays so that you have small amounts for braising vegetables and sauces.

Once you start reading about the health benefits of bone broths you’ll be trying to add some to your diet every single day. It’s not a coincidence that soup is what has been fed to the sick throughout the ages. By using broth instead of water in many recipes you’ll be upping the nutrition of your food and making your food more digestible. Use stock to make gravy, for braising vegetables, in soups and stews, add some to spaghetti sauce, use it instead of water when making rice and other grains, or even drink it plain. Learn to make a variety of soups and you’ll be able to easily incorporate more stock into your diet. No doubt when you do you’ll start noticing the benefits, glowing skin, less cellulite, fewer colds, stronger teeth and bones, less join pain and greater overall health. I believe adding bone broths to your diet is one of the most important health moves you can make.

Do you make your own stocks and broths? What’s your favorite kind?

24 Responses to Homemade Stock

  1. Anita says:

    We are like you, we eat venison. Last fall we butcherd several for us and a few friends. I saved the leg bones and whacked them with a large meat cleaver. This made some of the best tasting, dark brown beautiful broth I have ever seen. I ran out of room on the stove top so I put some in a large roaster with all the goodies and roasted it @ 250 all night. Worked great. Just don’t over fill the pan with to much liquid as it tends to make a little extra.

    • Susy says:

      We’ve been thinking of trying to butcher a deer this coming year. I’d love to get some of the bones to make broth!

      • Allison says:

        That sounds delicious. I will have to remember this when my husband brings home a deer this year!

      • Anita says:

        I think breaking the bones allows the bone marrow to cook out also. I use this for veggie soup, beef stew, canned venison for (beef and noodles). I can everything from the garden, and we use venison all the time.

  2. Sande says:

    Excellent article and photos! I even bookmarked it for reference. I’ve made and frozen chicken stock from whole chickens and veggies for years, but never heard the vinegar idea, oven roasting for a darker stock, or reducing it to take less space (which I assume is by cooking it a lot longer?)
    Thanks for posting. It was very informative.

  3. Melissa says:

    Now you have me craving soup for dinner! I love making my own broth- it’s just so darn easy! I was so excited last time I made it b/c all the veggies going into the chicken stock were from my garden! It was delicious!

    • Susy says:

      I do always love it when everything in the stock can come from the garden. I am learning to experiment with adding different vegetables depending on the season. Leeks in winter, seasoning celery from a pot instead of big stalks in the spring, green onions instead of bulbing onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.

  4. Maria says:

    I have been having bone broth since I was a little girl. In Colombia, where I was born, it is used all the time…it is our base. From there we add and create a meal.

    Since moving to the US, bone broth is not used as much…the benefits of this delicious and easy to make broth are too numerous. Everyone should try it!

    Thank you for sharing your recipe.



    • Susy says:

      I too was born in Colombia and love their brothy soups. The breakfast one with eggs, potatoes in a base of chicken broth is my favorite I think.

  5. Sherri says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! We buy pastured beef and chicken from a farm nearby and always use those bones for broth. I love the flavour of roasting the beef bones first before they go in the pot for broth. We typically roast our chickens whole, and the carcass gets put into the empty mashed potato pot directly after supper, popped in the fridge and then made into broth the next day. For the last several years, I have used a pressure cooker to make my broth. In one hour at high pressure, every last drop of nutrition is extracted from the bones. They are near the stage of crumbling at one hour, and the resultant broth is thick, glossy and so gelatinous that it’s actually is a thick solid vs. a liquid when refrigerated! I keep some pre-made broth in the freezer too, but also, I like to make double pots of soup and freeze half for a busy day. It’s so comforting on a hectic day, to have a hearty nutritious homemade soup ready and waiting for us to defrost and warm up. Thanks for the tip about astragulus root!

  6. Lisa says:

    It’s quite a coincidence that you post this as I was just looking at some beef bones at the butchers today thinking about stock. I have never made bone broth but I think I may get some and have a go this weekend. Thank you for the info.

  7. Donna B. says:

    What a fantastic post!
    Ever since reading a post [I believe] from last year about soups on your blog, I’ve tried making split pea soup with the leftover ham bones from Thanksgiving/Easter… Mmmm! But the roasting! I might have to indulge in some oxtail to make some delicious broths! Simple dinner’s are the best…
    Any hints for preparing stock during the summer months? It’s been, um, 90~100 degree’s outside all week this week – so we’ve been enjoying cereal and such. Cold things. But sometimes I crave a good hearty soup around now… with pasta. I do have a fire pit in the back yard… could I in essence make a fire, set a pot in the ashes, and just let it simmer till the morning? Mmm… Makes me hungry thinking about it! XD

    • Susy says:

      Cooking stock over a fire would be a great way to keep the house cooler. Using a heavy cast iron pot would be perfect for keeping the temperature more constant. I’m sure this is how women have made stock throughout the ages, simply keeping a perpetual pot on the fire and throwing in bones as they got them.

      I usually put my stock on at night and put it on the back burner of the stove on low – if you turn the oven hood on low it keeps the pot from heating up the house. I simmer it overnight, throughout the next day, usually overnight again and then make soup the following day or freeze the stock. By cooking it inside you might heat up the house a bit, but it doesn’t seem to.

      You could always learn to make a few chilled soups for the summer months, although we tend to enjoy hot bowls of soup – just not as hot as in the winter months. While growing up in Colombia people ate hot soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner even when the temperatures climbed into the 100’s. I’m guessing somehow eating hot soups helps cool the body, or it helps replenish minerals & salts lost during sweating. Seems that traditional cultures had time tested reasons for everything they did and everything they ate.

      • Donna B. says:

        Hmm, keeping it at low might be a possibility… I might make some soup tonight! Plenty of green beans growin’, and I have lots of chard… mmmm. Hungry just thinking about it!
        Gazpacho! Waiting on my cucumbers to grow more so I can make a cold cucumber soup… borage flowers, garlic, and cheese. Sounds like a done deal?
        You know, that’s totally true. Summer foods in other countries are spicy: kimchi [goodness I love kimchi…], curries, etc. They are operating on something that must be working… It’s like how I enjoy eating ice cream in winter. Hee hee.

  8. MAYBELLINE says:

    I do not and really should.

  9. Joshua says:

    I used to freeze my stocks and broths, but I didn’t like how much space it ended up taking in my freezer, and I didn’t like having to thaw them before using them. Making and canning stock was the final push I needed to buy a pressure canner. This item serves double-duty. It can be used to cook the stock at pressure, reducing the cooking process from many hours to just an hour or so. Then it can be used to safely can the stock, making it shelf-stable.

    Regarding heat management, I have a two-burner propane camp-stove, and when I can or make stock during the summer, I set it outside on the patio and leave all the heat out there. The stove is made to take the small 1lb cannisters, but I have an adapter that allows it to be hooked up to the 20lb tanks, which are much more cost-effective and create less waste, since they can be refilled.

  10. Shonneky says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful post!!! I will be buying some more bones this weekend and plan on making a bone broth with it. I’m in the beginning stages of learning how to really use nutrition and herbs to nourish and heal and your website has been a valuable aid.

  11. I do make my own stock, but I’ve only made chicken so far. I rarely buy beef on the bone. I need to investigate that one. Thanks for the great tips!

  12. Toni says:

    I love making my own stock, but have gotten lazy about it in the last year. But, I just found a rogue quart of chicken stock in the freezer last week and between that and reading this post I have decided to get back in the habit. There really is no reason not to do it. I also have a package of beef bones in the freezer that I need to use. Thanks for giving me a little push!

  13. Teresa says:

    I often make stock in my crock-pot, which uses relatively little power and doesn’t heat up the house much. A crock-pot doesn’t make as a large a batch, but the ease of it, and the fact I feel safe leaving it when the house is empty, makes me more likely to make the stock in the first place. After it’s well cooked, I’ll take the lid off and let the stock cook down a bit.

  14. Victoria says:

    I’ve been saving chicken spines for stock in the freezer, but I don’t have the freezer space for all the stock…guess I should look into freezers ๐Ÿ™‚ homemade is always best!

  15. melissa says:

    I do make my own. My favorite is chicken because it is so versatile. Although my chicken stock is rarely JUST chicken…I usually throw in some duck or turkey parts too, so I end up with either “duckenstock” or “turkenstock” ๐Ÿ™‚ I got a pressure canner so I can save my limited freezer space for other stuff and stock the big quart jars of stock in the bottom of my pantry.

  16. I LOVE this and did not know about the acid. I will add something from now on. I always S T R ETCH a chicken and now I know its good too do so not only frugal. thanks! great article <3 Darlene

  17. Jennelle says:

    I have some leftover turkey bones in the crockpot now. I used white wine and some leftover vegetable scraps. It’s so easy, cheap, and better than store bought broth, I don’t know why more people don’t do this. I’m going to try the deer bones stock mentioned when my husband kills a deer this winter. Great post!

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