The first signs of spring are evident here in northern New Mexico: wind, mud, swelling buds, and the first bluebirds. But it is still cold, and folks are still battling illness. Bone broths are a very old remedy for colds and flu as well as recuperation from any illness, general debility, and digestive problems. There are many ways to make your own bone broths: here is my favorite, which can be done with any animal bones. The best are from free-range/organically raised animals that were humanely butchered.
First you need a big stainless steel soup pot.
Into that pot you put as many bones as will comfortably fit. If chicken, you can use just the backs or whole carcasses from which the meat has been imperfectly removed. If beef, a variety of soup bones is great, especially ones with lots of marrow.
Fill the pot with cold water; add a half cup of apple cider vinegar; and let sit for half an hour.
Simmer (that means about 175 to 185 degrees: you want tiny bubbles around the perimeter, but NOT a full boil) for at least 6 hours and if possible 12 hours (or anything in between). After the first hour or so, skim off any particles that float to the surface that look dubious. I often skip this step, as it is all going to be strained at the end.
About 2 hours before I’m finished I add a couple of bay leaves, an onion or 2 cut up into eighths, several carrots and sticks of celery cut into smallish pieces, and if you are feeling wild go ahead and add some cut up parsnips, rutabaga and/or your favorite greens (stems and all).
About half an hour before I’m finished I add a lot of garlic and maybe some thyme. The last 15 minutes dump in coarsely chopped parsley. All these amounts are to your taste, so please experiment. Each batch of broth will be a bit different and ALL will be scrumptious.
After the broth is done, let it cool for a bit; then fish the big stuff out with tongs. Last you will strain the liquid into canning jars (or whatever) and if you plan to freeze some, be sure to leave an inch of head room. Cool first in the fridge before you freeze, and use wide-mouth jars. I, of course, speak from experience…
When the broth is fully chilled, you may find (and probably will) that the broth has “congealed.” This is not the fat (which some folks skim off from the top) but rather the gelatin from the bones, and is a very easily digested source of protein, colloids, polysaccharides, and other nutritional goodies.
The broth may be heated and eaten alone (and that is when I add salt and pepper) or better yet, add freshly cut vegetables, meat and rice or potatoes, and you have a home-made soup that makes your whole house smell good and tastes great. That soup can also be frozen and turned into healthy “fast food.”