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Friday Favorite: Homemade Stock

July 22nd, 2011

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 – 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
1 6-10 inch piece of seaweed
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?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.