Easy Tips to Make Your Bone Broth Next Level
by Catherine Morris | December 8, 2020, updated over 2 years ago
It's winter which means short days, frosty nights, and (in my house) compulsive broth-making.
Bone broth is a staple in our kitchen at this time of year, because it's warming, delicious, and very good for the immune system. There's a reason your grandmother turned to chicken soup to cure a cold.
Stewing animal bones in water draws out a number of health-supporting essential nutrients and amino acids, as well as collagen and gelatin. Sipping broth is an excellent way to supercharge your health in every season.
I've been making this rich superfood-in-a-cup for almost a decade and have tweaked my broth routine along the way, while learning tips and tricks from various other broth-lovers and nutritionists. If your broth game is growing stale, we have some ideas on how to take it to the next level.
Add a Dash of Vinegar
I never make bone broth without adding a generous dash of apple cider vinegar to the mix. Why? Because using an acidic ingredient to lower the pH of the broth helps leach more minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from the simmering bones. Trust me, you won't even notice it in the final flavour.
If you don't have apple cider vinegar on hand, you can use white vinegar. If you live in the kind of household where there's 'spare' wine, you can use a glug of that too.
Roast the Bones Beforehand
If you're short on time, it's tempting to pull a few soup bones from the freezer, dump them in a pot, add the veggies, and call it a day. That'll still get you a good broth, but to get maximum flavour it's best to roast the bones beforehand.
Try it. With roasted bones, you'll notice a darker, richer, tastier broth. You don't need to prep or slave over them—just place on a baking tray in the oven for 30 minutes and voila.
Get Creative With Your Add-Ins
I've played around with adding all sorts of things to my broth over the years—usually whatever's kicking around in the back of the fridge. Don't be afraid to mix it up and get the flavours, aroma, and health benefits of whatever you're adding:
- Throw in some roots – a knob of ginger, some ginseng, horseradish, or turmeric.
- Stir in a few aromatic seeds – caraway, cumin, coriander
- Try some spice – peppercorns, cloves, dried hot peppers
Look at it like you're cooking a meal—what spices and herbs compliment each other? What will you be using the broth for?
If it's going to be a base for soups and stews, add generic savoury herbs like bay leaves, thyme or parsley. If you're intending to drink it as-is, you can really have some fun. Make it a curried broth with plenty of turmeric and cumin, perhaps a hint of cayenne. Give it an Asian flare with aromatics like star anise and nutmeg.
If you want something really different, try a fish broth and throw in some kelp for the rich iodine and healthy fatty acids. Just be careful with this one, because your kitchen may smell like a fishmonger's afterwards (I speak from stinky experience). You can also mix bones: pig and cow, chicken and turkey. Play around with it.
Go Nose to Toes
Remember when the latest dietary craze was nose to tail eating? Apply that principle to your broth and you'll end up with a protein-rich brew that's great for your tissues, joints, and bones.
When my old knee injury acts up, I make my bone broth extra ‘gross’ by adding chicken feet and necks, marrow bones, and basically any of the animal's connective tissues that I can get my hands on. It looks grim, but it'll make a thick broth with an almost jelly-like consistency… and that's a good thing. That gooey texture means your broth is high in collagen and gelatin, which is great for all those creaky bits.
Hack Your Broth-Making Technique
I'm not going to lie—bone broth can be work, but it's totally worth it and there are ways to make it less onerous.
The ideal cooking time for broth is generally anything over 8 hours. In my experience, most people go for around the 12 hour mark but if you want your broth quicker, try using a pressure cooker. I've been using my instant pot religiously, and you can get a great batch of broth in three hours, even two if you're really desperate.
Once it's done, you can either store it in the fridge if it'll be gone within 5 days or freeze some. Be careful if freezing in glass jars. I learned the hard way that you need a few inches of air in there as the liquid will expand when freezing and crack the glass if filled to the brim. Mason jars are ideal for this thanks to their wide brim. If you're making your broth to quickly throw into soups and stews, freeze it in an ice-cube tray so you can pop out a handy serving size as needed.
Most importantly, your broth is only as good as the bones. If you can, try to buy grass-fed or organic. These can be expensive, but one way you can mitigate cost is to buy wholesale from a farmer, or team up with another broth-loving friend to share costs.
If you're looking for dietary advice about bone broth or other healthy foods, contact a Which Doctor dietitian or nutritionist today to get started on the path to better health.
Catherine Morris is an award-winning journalist with a bad case of wanderlust and a passion for all things health and wellness. Originally from Northern Ireland, she worked as a news and feature writer for media outlets in the UK, South Africa, France and the Caribbean before settling in Canada. Catherine now lives in Alberta with her husband and rescue mutt and spends her time happily exploring the great outdoors with both.