How to Make Broth or Stock: The Basics
Vegetarian or meat based, making broth is a matter of following some simple steps and having some patience.
Include bones,the most nourishing part, meat and scraps in large stockpot. This can be raw, precooked, pan cooked or oven-roasted bones. If using raw meat consider searing it as that can also add more color and flavor. Add onion, celery and carrot and any other veggies you want to the pot.
Season with a small amount of salt, some pepper and herbs of choice. Salt lightly because your broth will cook down and intensify in flavor. Herbs can be wrapped in cheesecloth then tied off so they can flavor the broth without ruining the clarity. I, however, usually skip the cheesecloth.
Now, cover all with cold water and bring the temp up slowly to a simmer. Turn the heat to the lowest temperature and leave it there.
Skim off and discard anything that floats at this point. It’s called scum and it’s generally whitish in color most likely with flecks of impurities that make it look dirty.
If you are using raw meat and bones you’ll find much more scum than if your using precooked bones and meat. Do not skip this step , keep the scum out and your stock will be clearer and less bitter. Repeat as often as necessary until all these impurities are gone.
Do not boil your stock, it brings out more impurities and makes the impurities and fat emulsify into your beautiful broth, leaving a murky dirty looking broth behind that can turn bitter. Boiling is also too high a heat for all the nutrients to slowly extract from the bones.
Allow broth to simmer for hours on end. Generally speaking most cooks seem to think the longer a broth cooks the better. Most start in the morning and leave the pot simmering all day. Some even leave their broth on overnight, but I don’t recommend going to sleep with your stove on.
The larger the bones the longer they should simmer. You can also add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per pound of bone to the mix to help extract the calcium and gelatin. (link to nutrition page)
To make a flavorful broth simmer a minimum of 3 hours for poultry and 4 hours for beef, lamb or pork.
Check for seasoning occasionally and add more herbs if you desire, add salt to taste when your stock is almost done, as long as you don’t plan to reduce it further.
Ladle broth through a small mesh strainer with cheese cloth for the clearest broth you can get.
Or if your not worried about clarity like me use the same large strainer you’d use for pasta over a very large bowl in the sink. Dump out the whole stockpot, broth, bones and all, then lift out the strainer full of scraps.
You can fill your sink with cold water and ice, up to 3/4s the height of the bowel to help cool the broth before putting it into the fridge.
In the morning use a spoon to skim off the fat that has hardened on the surface. Remove only a little bit or all, it’s up to you. Then stir in what is left. Remember to much fat can ruin sauces made with your broth but some fat will add flavor.