Homesteading Wild Foods

Making Bone Broth

The history of bone broth is deep and rich, going back to our prehistoric ancestors. In a time when a successful hunt was rare, it is of no surprise our ancestors heeded the guidance of four legged hunters and found ways to access and use the bone marrow. Rather than sharp teeth and bite force, they used fire and water.

Photo by Mohan Nannapaneni on

Bone marrow is a power house. Packed full of vitamins, minerals and heavy hitters like glycine. An amino acid used for building proteins that then serve a multitude of uses from growth and maintenance of tissues to making hormones. Or glucosamine, a compound that helps keep cartilage around bones and joints healthy. Many people take these as a daily supplement, but like so many instances, the body takes in and uses these much more efficiently in a biocompatible form, like bone broth, rather than as lab creations.

The name bone broth can be a bit misleading because its often used interchangeably with stock, a gelatinous mass at room temperature, like homemade bullion. If you don’t end up with a gelatinous mass, what you have is true broth and it still has wonderful flavor and nutritional value.

There’s no wrong or right bones to use. Most of the time I save our scraps, rib bones, chicken bones, from pork chops, rabbit bones, you name it. Those holiday bird carcasses are perfect for this so don’t
throw them out! I keep them bagged up in the freezer until I have enough for a batch. A batch for me is what I can fit into my crock pot. I like using the slow cooker because this way if I have errands to run,
the bones can be left to cook without any second thoughts.

I roast my bones in the broiler for 30-45 minutes. Ask ten different people how long to roast them, and you’ll get ten different answers. Some folks suggest taking a hammer to your bones after roasting. I
personally don’t need bone slivers flying around with a toddler that seems insistent on putting anything in her mouth. Neither the heat, or the smashing of bones is needed, it just helps to expose the marrow
and lessen the cook time.

Afterwards they get tossed into the slow cooker and filled with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will also help to soften the bones. As I said, there’s no wrong or right recipe, if you want to add vegetables feel free to do so. I keep it simple and just use the bones. Then it’s just a matter of letting them boil.

So how do we know when it’s finished? What you’re looking for is a deep golden color. But it really is up to you. These were after 48 hours of boiling. I start the clock after the water begins to boil, in my crock
pot that takes about four hours.

The bones are still quite hard so I’ll boil them again. Most bones will go through a few boiling’s. You know the bones have given up all their goodies when they go soft.

second batch with the same bones

The last batch may begin to look thin, but it’s still well worth the time and effort. As with any food source, its nutritional value depends a great deal on the way it was raised. But that’s all there is to it. You can either pressure can the broth, freeze it, or turn it into pocket soup. If you’re interested in pocket soup, stay tuned!

By Awaneechee

I am daughter, I am learner of the traditions. I carry them forward so that the Elders and Ancestors may be remembered for all time. I am also Mother. I am here so that the image of The Mothers love could be brought into existence. I shall always carry the sacredness of this honor with me.

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