Better Bone Broth

Cold weather calls for cozy concoctions simmering on the stove. The difference between soup that tastes like dishwater and soup that warms your body and soul depends on the stock or broth you use as a base.

Commercial broths owe their flavor to salt and neurotoxic msg, thinly disguised as hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast extract or calcium caseinate. Even "organic" broths rely heavily on sugar and salt: check the ingredients on that expensive 32 ounce box and prepare to be dismayed. But real broth made from the bones of pastured animals delivers rich flavor and bioavailable minerals like calcium and magnesium. Then there's gelatin for a healthy gut, strong hair and nails and joint-healingglucosamine and chondroitin. It's very easy and inexpensive to make bone broth and it can be conveniently stored in the freezer.

Here's the method:  

1. Use the carcass of a roasted chicken or turkey or ask your butcher (or farmer) for beef, lamb or pork bones.

2. If the poultry has been roasted, just cover with water in a large stockpot or a crockpot. For beef or lamb marrow bones, roast on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven for an hour or until browned.

3. Place the roasted bones in a stockpot or crockpot and cover them with filtered water. Add a tablespoon of raw cider vinegar for each gallon of water. This is an essential step since it helps draw the minerals out of the bones.

4. Bring to a simmer over low heat and add a chopped onion, a couple of carrots and a few stalks of celery. Use the peels, skins and root ends as these will be discarded later. Add a tbsp of salt, a few bay leaves, whole cloves and black peppercorns.

5. Simmer (do not boil) over low heat for up to 12 hours and then let it cool.

6. Strain the broth through a fine sieve (or cheesecloth) and pick any meat from the bones to use in soup.

7. You can replace the vegetables and spices, add more cider and water and repeat the process using the same bones. The second batch of broth will also be mineral-rich and nutritious but with a slightly less meaty flavor. Use this broth to fortify rice or to make soups and stews with more flavorful ingredients.

Broth can be kept for a week or more in glass jars in the fridge or frozen (not in glass jars - they will break) and used as needed.

NOTE: When the broth is chilled, it becomes very gelatinous because it's full of skin-plumping collagen! Not only does homemade bone broth taste better, it is better and you may even look better eating it!