Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I make my own bone broth?
Jamie: You should always make your own bone broth because, the simple reason, you know what’s in there. You know the quality of meat, you know what’s in those bones. And so, when you make it yourself, you know what you are getting. When you don’t make it yourself, you don’t know what you’re getting.
Laurie: You make it for the purpose of nourishment, whereas those that you get from the stores are for the purpose of shelf life. They may say organic, and they may say all natural, but it’s questionable because of their packaging and their methods. And, you really don’t know where those chickens came from. If you source your chicken properly, and learn how to make bone broth, you’ve got yourself a dynamic food.
How do I know if I have good bones?
Laurie: Well, I make sure that my cattle are getting grass feed. I make sure they have plenty of water. I make sure they have organic sources of minerals. And then, if I weren’t raising them myself, I would ask those same questions and demand those same things from any other beef producer.
Jamie: Which is what I do. I don’t raise my own beef but I make sure that the people who do raise my beef have my own values. Don’t you Laurie?
Laurie: That’s right. And, that’s where a lot of our emphasis continues to be and that’s with sourcing and building up a community. You can’t get these type of bones at your grocery store, you won’t be able to. Nothing you can trust because you don’t know how that cow is raised, you don’t know how that chicken ate. The best place to do that is to go out into your own community and source it from your local producers.
What if I only have access to beef and chicken from a grocery store?
Jamie: Then that’s where you start. Bone broth is bones and water. So you start with bones and water. So when you start getting into a routine, and you get your pot, you get your water, you get your salts, you get your good ground pepper… Once you get that going, then you start looking around and go, “Can I do a little bit better? Maybe I’ll grind my own pepper, maybe I’ll find some Celtic salt, maybe I’ll look for the organic chickens in the store, maybe I’ll check my neighbor who has a farm.”
That’s not where you end. But if that’s where you need to start, it’s better to start.
What do I do with the fat in my broth?
Laurie: I keep all the fat that is made with the broth. Then, when I pour that into my container, that fat will rise to the top. Don’t throw that fat away, that is gold. That is the gold of your broth.
How much time will it take to prepare the bone broth?
Laurie: I probably have about ten minutes of my actual time involved in making broth. The rest of the time it’s sitting in a crock pot and it’s cooking all by itself and doing it’s miraculous things with the application of heat to the bones. I have nothing to do with that. I just make sure that there’s a good water level in it. And my actual time, again, of preparing and putting my hands into the process, is about ten minutes max.
What are your tips for handling raw chicken?
Laurie: When I first started making bone broth, it gave me the heebie-jeebies to touch a chicken carcass, and I had to get over that. And, there were several times I was teaching this in meetings that I would hand it to somebody in the audience, and it wasn’t uncommon for women to say “That’s okay.”
They didn’t want to touch it either. So I realized that this was something to get over… something that our grandmothers and their grandmothers knew hundreds of years ago just to go out in the backyard, butcher a chicken, bring it in and prepare it…
We are so far removed from that now that it’s a very awkward situation. So, I came up with my way of doing it: I barely touch the chicken carcass except to debone it. But, it’s okay to debone it because it’s already cooked then. It’s something about the raw thing.
The other thing that I’d like to emphasize is that when you source a good chicken and you’re making broth of it, you’re taking all the sunshine, all the grass, all the exercise, all the health of that chicken, and you’re transferring it simply to water. That’s what bone broth is: taking all the goodness of a live, healthy chicken… putting it in water, putting it in a way that you can easily add it in to your meals.
What’s the best way to get my children to eat bone broth?
Jamie: Well I guess it all depend on whether those children are adventurous or not. There are mothers that will put anything in front of their children, and if that’s the case I would say “Don’t make it hard.” I would just give them a cup of broth… start out with a very, very small amount, like a shot…
But, if that’s not the case, there are finicky ones, I’d hide it. I would make sure that soup was a part of our diet. I would make sure that any time I cooked anything I’d cook it in broth… and just slowly work it into their world. But, you as a mother have to feel that out. That’s not something anybody can tell you to do.
Laurie: Before I did the bone broth consistently, I had learned how to make sourdough bread. So, then I added that to the bone broth and allowed the children to slice up their bread, put as much butter on it as they wanted, and then they could dunk it in the bone broth.
I’ve also found that broth is a great way to put vegetables into my diet that wouldn’t normally get steamed and eaten, no matter how much butter you put on it. So they go into my broth and I draw the vitamins and minerals out of it that way… And, they drink it as part of their other meals and they never know…
Jamie: Well, American kids are not raised on this type of thing. I know my grandmother was. I know at family gatherings they used to fight over what they call the giblets. They would fry chicken, and they would fry all the little nasties inside and everybody would fight over those. My aunts and uncles would fight over those kinds of things. That was something that was a part of their every day life, and they enjoyed that.
Well, American kids, if you would say “would you like a gizzard?” Well, first of all, they wouldn’t even know what it was. And second of all, if they saw the heart before I put it in their pot, that would not be eaten. But, if you put these in with your broth, then you get the nutrients out of it, and they don’t even know that they’re getting it.
Laurie: There’s no real flavor difference.
Jamie: No, no. And just a little secret: I dice the chicken hearts and put them in my children’s soup, and it’s also great in fried rice.
Laurie: It’s all smoke and mirrors.
Jamie: You can hide innards quite easily.
What if my broth doesn’t look like yours?
Laurie: Sometimes the color of your broth depends on what kind of vegetables you put in it. I’ve found with carrots you’ll get a really dark color to your broth. Also, the content of the fat makes a big difference, just simply from the chicken that you get. If your chicken has a lot of fat on it, it’s going to produce a lot of fat for your broth. If it’s not a healthy, well-grown chicken, it will have less fat on it and you will have less fat in your final broth.
Don’t be worried if your broth turns out a real light yellow, a dark yellow, a dark brown. It’s all the same. It’s all just a matter of the combination of minerals and vitamins that were released in the brothing process.
Jamie: Well, it’s nothing to worry about, but there definitely is a preference. I know that I like to have my chickens cooked 12 hours or less. When it goes past 12 hours, there’s a different flavor there that is not a bad flavor, and all your nutrients are there, but it’s simply preference for me.
Do you ever put anything else in your broth?
Laurie: During the summertime when I harvest lettuce or beets, I also keep the greens, dry them, crunch them up, and then they end up in a quart jar. The last half hour or so of making broth, I will put a handful of those greens in just as a last minute punch. There’s no flavor that comes through, but there are a lot of minerals and vitamins. In fact, we’re always told to use fresh parsley. I get a lot of dried vegetables through the course of my summer, and that is what I put in my broth.
How long should I wait to collect my broth for storage?
Laurie: When you realize that your broth is done, wait until it cools. I’ve had so many people say “Well, it’s just too hot and I burned myself.” Just wait until it cools. Then strain it out, and then bottle it.
Allow it to cool before you put it in the refrigerator. You can keep it in the refrigerator — if you’ve got a good layer of fat — you can use it up to four to six weeks.
How do you know when the broth had spoiled?
Laurie: The nose knows. If you open that up, and you smell something that’s not right, then you know it’s not right and you should just throw it away.
Can I freeze my bone broth?
Laurie: I have often frozen broth. When I freeze it, I freeze it in ice cube trays, and then I release it from the trays, and put it in a plastic bag so that it’s always ready for me. If I’m going to make a quick sauce, then it’s always easy to measure it out because you know how big your ice cube tray sizes are.
Also, if you just want a quick cup of broth… you can just pop a few cubes of broth in a cup, and pour hot water and salt over it.
Can I cook the broth at higher temperatures to get it done faster?
Jamie: Always low, always slow for bone broth. So, if you’re going to put it in a crock pot, if you have a low setting, you’re going to put it there. If the low setting is too hot, you’re going to leave the lid ajar so some of the steam can get out. But, if you put it too hot, it’s a bad thing. You just want a nice, slow simmer. Whatever you can make happen. I have a stove-top that doesn’t accommodate that, so I take it slightly off to the side.
The bottom line is a slow simmer. Slow and low.