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DIY Bone Broth, Step by Step

IMG_5614Yesterday I walked across the field to check on my elderly neighbor, John and saw lots of grass-like blades poking through the soil. Farmer Bruner sowed rye right after he harvested pumpkins from the same field and that’s what was popping up. Husband Frank told me it’s called “winter rye” since it can germinate through the snow. I look forward to early spring when it becomes a field of wavy green.

Since we’re beginning a new year, let’s talk trends for 2017. Guess what one is? Bone broth! Now I’ve been making super nutritious bone broth for years the same way my Mom did. Just basically cooking up a lot of cooked bones with aromatics to make a healthful stock. No waste was her motto.

The trend is to embrace the “no waste” philosophy. From root to seed is how chefs are cooking now, using everything from the plant in some nutritious way.

I grew up in a family where “waste not, want not” was a way of life. My mom, Mary, would save leftover bones and scraps of meat and vegetables. Those would make the base for her bone broth recipe. I learned how to make bone broth from mom, who taught each of us 9 kids that frugality and creativity could produce some healthy and tasty meals. Soup was a staple in our home, and often made from a simple bone broth. And when we were sick, bone broth is what we sipped.  Learning how to make bone broth is easy and the bone broth benefits are amazing and long lasting. For a step-by-step photo primer, check out my article on bone broth in Countryside magazine on…countrysidenetwork.com/daily/lifestyle/canning…/bonebroth-recipe/

So next time you have a leftover poultry carcass, or bones from a roast, don’t relegate them to the trash. Use them in a bone broth recipe. Use raw or cooked meaty bones to make a nourishing and low calorie bone broth. Bone broth is immensely popular and trendy. Here’s why:

Bones are a good example of not judging a book by its cover. Tucked deep inside are lots of nutrients like gut-healing proteins, healthy fats, and easy to assimilate vitamins and minerals. All this goodness cooks right in the broth. Bones contain collagen, which makes the stock gelatinous. It looks like Jell-O when refrigerated, and this collagen is great for joint, skin and digestive health.

Easy to digest

When someone in the family gets sick, like my mother before me, I feed them plain bone broth. Bone broth benefits for someone under the weather are numerous. For lagging appetites, bone broth is easily digested and will boost the immune system. It’s powerful medicine for colds and flu. Plus liquid is easier to digest than a solid, so you get a quick energy boost from bone broth.

Secret ingredient

Organic apple cider vinegar

My mom used to add what she called her “secret ingredient” to her bone broth recipe: a splash of cider vinegar. No, the broth didn’t taste like vinegar, but my mom knew the vinegar would pull calcium and other minerals from the bones into the broth.

And while we’re on the subject of vinegar, I wanted to share some precious memories. When our children were


Bone broth vs stock – what’s the difference?

Both use aromatics, vegetables and meaty bones and/or chunks of meat. Stock is usually simmered for several hours, bone broth for a much longer time so that the bones give up all their nutrients. Bone broth time varies and is subjective – anywhere from 6-12 hours or more, depending upon the ingredients.

Kinds of bones

If using raw bones, look for bones from animals that are antibiotic free and raised humanely.

Leftover cooked bones are excellent, too.  No need to brown them in the oven. These broths tend to be lighter in color than those made from raw bones.

Whole carcasses, wings, feet, necks, backs, tails, etc. all make a nice bone broth.  My favorites are broth made from poultry and beef.

Bone broth from raw meaty bones

Wings & Onions

Wings & Onions

Get a more flavorful broth by roasting bones before cooking.  The onion skin provides nutrients and color.  After roasting, I start my bone broth on the stove top and then I transfer it to a crock pot/slow cooker. You could cook it for the whole time on the stove top, adding water as necessary.

Use the ingredient list as a guide – a little more or less of any ingredient is OK.


  • Poultry: 5-6 pounds raw backs, wings or necks or a combo
  • Beef: 5-6 pounds raw meaty beef bones
  • 2 large yellow onions, skin left on and cut into large chunks
  • Herbs and vegetable scraps (see instructions below)


Poultry wings and onions

Instructions: Roast bones first

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Lay bones in a single layer on a sprayed baking sheet. Scatter onion on top. Pour a little water in the bottom and let roast until brown, about 1 hour or so for poultry and about 30-40 minutes for beef.
  3. Put bones and onion in very large pot. Scrape up brown bits from bottom of baking sheet and add to pot.
  4. Add scraps of vegetables and herbs: a couple ribs celery unpeeled carrots,  parsley sprigs, 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon or so of peppercorns.  Sometimes I’ll add a half head of garlic, cut down the middle with peel left on.
  5. Pour water over to cover by 2″.   Add 1/3 cup organic cider vinegar for pulling minerals out of bones. Poultry bone broth ready to cook
  6. Bring slowly to a boil, and remove foam as it forms.
  7. Transfer to large crock pot, and cook on low 10-12 hours or so.
  8. Strain, cool quickly and refrigerate. Fat will congeal on top.
  9. Remove congealed fat, bring to a simmer, strain again (a coffee filter strains really well)  and pour into containers, cooling quickly before refrigerating/freezing.

Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks; in freezer up to 3 months.

Ready to strain

Ready to strain

Bone broth from cooked meaty bones

I don’t have a specific recipe but it’s easy to do. Since the meat usually has some seasoning already in it, I go a bit lighter on the aromatics and vegetables. This takes less time to cook than broth made with raw bones.


  1. Place whatever bones you have in pot and add sprigs of parsley, a bay leaf, a few peppercorns, a rib of celery, cut up, and an unpeeled  carrot, cut up. If you like, add several large cloves of garlic, unpeeled.
  2. Pour water over to cover by 2”. Pour in several splashes of organic apple cider vinegar.
  3. Bring slowly to a boil and remove foam as it forms.
  4. Transfer to crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.
  5. Follow instructions above for straining and storing.

Bone broth uses

  • Nice base for soups and stews
  • Gravy base
  • Make aspic with the addition of unflavored gelatin
  • Use in place of water when cooking legumes and grains


Have you made bone broth? If so, do you have any tips to share?








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