Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means family, food and football. The best part about Thanksgiving though is by far the leftovers. There’s usually food leftover for days after the Thanksgiving celebration which means multiple meals for your taste buds to enjoy. However, all good things must come to an end eventually, but before you toss your Thanksgiving turkey, consider keeping the bones so you can make your own batch of homemade bone broth.
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth can be considered really good stock. Traditional soup stock is thick due to the collagen that seeps out of the bones and joints during long-term cooking, while broth is thinner and is made with actual meat. Over time, people started referring to traditional soup stock as bone broth, but in all reality, there is a difference between the two.
Bone broth is defined by its thickness and has a gelatin-like consistency when chilled, just like JELLO. This gel-like consistency comes from the collagen found in the bones. Collagen is a protein derived from the meat cartilage and is what gives bone broth many of its numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Bone broth has been around for centuries and for good reason! Here are some of the health benefits of consuming bone broth:
- Heals the Gut. The collagen found in bone broth protects and heals the digestive tract, potentially even helping heal “leaky gut.” Bone broth also supports better digestion and proper nutrient absorption within the body.
- Protects the Joints. Bone broth is naturally full of glucosamine, which can help protect and heal joints.
- Supports the Immune System. Bone broth has a high concentration of the minerals responsible for supporting and strengthening the immune system. Ever wonder why your grandmother’s homemade chicken soup always made you feel better? Turns out, there was some science mixed in with all of that grandmotherly love.
- Strengthens Bones. The phosphorus, magnesium and calcium found in bone broth provide the essential building blocks for your own healthy bones.
- Supports Hair, Skin and Nails. Bone broth is a rich source of collagen, which is great for hair, skin and nails.
How to Make Bone Broth
Bone broth may sound intimidating to make, but it’s actually easier than you think! However, if you’re in a pinch and prefer to just point and click, you can always order a premade batch of bone broth instead.
#1 Select High Quality Bones
Since animals need to be at their healthiest in order to pass on the maximum health benefits to you, you should always start with the highest-quality meats and bones. Look for pasture-raised and grass-fed if possible. The types of bones you choose are entirely up to you, but if you are repurposing your Thanksgiving turkey bones, then use those! If you don’t have your Thanksgiving turkey bones leftover then head over to your local butcher and ask for soup bones like like knuckles, neck, and feet. These bones will have enough meat and cartilage to give you the thick consistency your broth needs.
#2 Pick Your Produce
Next, select the vegetables and herbs you want to include in your batch of bone broth. Just like the type of bones, your vegetable selection is completely up to you. Think of bone broth as a blank canvas for your culinary creativity. Anything goes! However, some good vegetable options include:
- Bay Leaves
- Green Onion
- Red Pepper Flakes
Tip: Avoid vegetables like broccoli, turnip peels, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, collard greens and mustard seeds as these will make your bone broth bitter.
#3 Get Cooking
Once you have gathered all of your ingredients, you can roast your bones and vegetables in the oven on a baking sheet for 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees. This will give your bone broth a richer flavor and a darker color, but is completely optional.
Place the bones and all of your vegetables in a large stockpot and add 2-4 inches of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low setting and simmer on low heat for 12-24 hours. The longer the time, the richer the flavor!
Optional: Skim the fat off the surface of your bone broth, but if you prefer to leave the fat you can. Remember, this is entirely your own culinary creation!
#4 Sip, Sip, Hooray!
Once your broth has finished cooking, strain the liquid through a sieve to remove any remaining solids from the broth then sip and enjoy any way you please. If drinking bone broth isn’t for you, then use it as a base in all of your fall and winter soups instead.
#5 Store Properly
If you plan on storing your batch of homemade broth, let it cool fully before dividing it up. Bone broth can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to one year. Be sure to keep your bone broth in an airtight, glass, freezer safe container or pour it into ice cube trays for easy access when cooking. Happy cooking everyone!
Meet The Author:
Ashley Martens is a Health and Wellness Writer based in Chicago, IL. With a background in digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more about Ashley and her writing over at her blog, Three to Five a Day.