The explosion of the bone broth trend means there are now hundreds of recipes all over the internet. Everyone wants to know how to make this But the secret to delicious bone broth does not in a simple recipe. Great chefs and cooks have secret tips that are not part of an instruction list. As avid broth makers for over ten years now, we know them all and then some so we wanted to share them with you. Enjoy!
Meat: Grass-Fed or Pasture-Fed Meat Bones or Organic & Free Range Chicken- you need the best quality you can find. Not clear on why this matters? Read this. For the chicken, ideally it should be whole, as fresh as possible and include the neck (very tasty and nutritious). For the meat, since we are talking broth and not stock, get yourself some beef bones, lamb bones or pork bones with meat on them. You want the muscles and the fat to melt into the broth- that’s where a lot of the good stuff is both nutrition-wise and flavor-wise.
Fresh Herbs: Parsley, thyme, rosemary and coriander are all great but experiment based on the type of meat and the recipe. Fresh is key- dried herbs do not yield the same result. We overdo it on the parsley (go for flat leaf AKA Italian rather than curly, which is a rather bland herb used mostly for decoration) because we love its vibrant, pungent taste.
Dried Spices: Bay Leaves & Peppercorns are a must- but depending on what you are making you can also use mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, star anise, or cloves (for example the latter two are essential in Vietnamese pho). Be generous with the peppercorns- we mostly use black but white, green or red work well too- go for a good handful. Break up the bay leaves for maximum flavor.
Stock Veggies: The magic trio of fresh carrots, onion and celery are a pretty standard starting point in the Western culinary canon but Asian recipes call for ginger and garlic too. For best results, peel and quarter the onion, and cut the celery and carrot into fat chunks. Some people chop everything into small one inch cubes but in all our years of making broth, we have never found this to be necessary. Make sure to use a lot of celery- it imparts a truly fulfilling flavor. Peeled or unpeeled carrots- totally up to you.
The Best Salt You Can Afford: Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Celtic Salt- avoid iodized table salt. It’s not good for your health and it totally changes the taste of the stock- if you have ever wondered by bouillon cubes or canned broth don’t taste the same as homemade, that’s why!
High Quality Water: Do Not Use Distilled Water! Make sure you choose filtered water or even mineral water. It sounds crazy but it’s incredibly important: the water is the vehicle in which the broth’s flavors are created.
Go Dutch: Broth really does taste better when it is made in a cast iron pot/Dutch oven. Avoid non stick pans. Metal can work if you have to but a certain tinny taste does linger.
Boiling Basics: Go long or go home! Make sure to bring the uncovered pot to a proper boil first. You should see a layer of foam scum being created. Then, lower to a weak to medium simmer, use the lid to cover 80% of the pot and let it simmer for a long time. We let ours go for a few hours- chicken can boil for a whole day and beef even longer. Some people skim the scum as they go, others don’t. Do whichever makes you comfortable.
How To Serve: While some people will say you should skim the fat off before serving, we vehemently disagree. Then again, a couple of cups of full fat bone broth is considered a meal around here! You can strain the broth before you serve it if you like or you can use a ladle to selectively spoon the liquid into a bowl whist avoiding the bones & mushy veggies.
Storing & Saving: Avoid putting bone broth in the fridge when it’s hot/warm, best to cool it down to room temperature. Want to know why? Here’s why. It is ideal to store bone broth in glass jars rather than plastic containers after removing the bones & other bits by using a wide-hole strainer. We put away half in the fridge for immediate consumption and we freeze the other half in ice cubes. We use those frozen stock cubes for cooking all the time! Once the cubes are frozen, store them in ziplock/bio-bags and make sure to label them! Otherwise you might find yourself using lamb broth in a vegetarian pasta sauce! Bonus: you can reuse the bones and veggies and make multiple batches, sometimes up to 4 times! Just add fresh water and we like to add a bunch of fresh parsley and some peppercorns too.
For Vegans & Vegetarians: Don’t worry, you don’t need meat bones to make delicious tasting broth! Our secret? Lots of umami-filled fresh shitake mushrooms (they have to be shitake, don’t substitute! We have tested the other types and they don’t work.) and tomato chunks (buy the tastiest fresh tomatoes you can find and throw them in quartered). The shitake and and the tomatoes add that special extra savoriness that some people say you need meat for. They are wrong! You will absolutely love this vegan and vegetarian friendly recipe- use all the same tips as above just ignore the meat part.
What About Seafood? If we are being honest, seafood broth is really its own kettle of fish (natch) and should require its own post but here are a few key points to keep in mind: use a whole fish, bones, head and all; add in some dried shrimps/scallops/anchovies to get that umami flavor and feel free to broaden your herb profile and include things like saffron. Finally, lots of fish stock recipes are a base for seafood stews and include tomato paste and some type of wine.
Not sure what this whole bone broth fuss is about? Have a read through our bone broth basics post.