Bone Broth Demystified

Mineral deficiency is rampant in our society – depleted soils mean that our fruits and vegetables don’t have the same mineral content that they once had. But additionally, we no longer favor mineral-rich foods in our diets: organ meats, seaweed, and bone broths are not exactly staples in most families’ menus! They should be! This series will focus on some great ways to get these critical (but maybe not entirely appealing) foods into your life.

Bone broth may be the easiest to start with, because it is most familiar. If you feel nervous about the flavors of seaweed or liver, chicken broth is at least familiar, with an agreeable flavor most people like – or can at least manage! Not only that, but it’s made with stuff you would usually throw away – bonus for your budget!


Chicken bones, from a good quality chicken. It doesn’t matter what you use for bones – if you roasted a whole chicken, use the entire leftover carcass once you’ve picked all the meat off. Any bits of leftover fat, meat, connective tissue, etc, is just a bonus for your soup! If you don’t have a whole carcass, you can still make broth: save whatever bones you have – legs, thighs, wings: they’ll all work! (For that matter, any bones, especially marrow bones, from any animal will work, so feel free to use those pork chop bones, rib bones, roast bones, whatever you’ve got! You can use fish bones too – and fish heads, crab exoskeletons… You can toss them all in together, or separate them according to the animal they came from, whichever you prefer. I separate fish bones, poultry bones, and land-animal bones, but in those categories i mix together whatever i have.)

Water – ideally filtered water. Since this is food, it’s better not to use tap water, unless you’re blessed with a good quality well.

Apple Cider Vinegar, to help the minerals out of the bones. You don’t need much, a tablespoon or so is sufficient. You just want to raise the acidity of the water somewhat, because it will pull more minerals from the bones. If you like the flavor though, feel free to add more! You can put in some Fire Cider to get a little kick, or some leftover kimchi juice as well.

That’s all you really need! If you want to get fancy, you can put in mushrooms (we like shiitake or maitake), vegetable ends (the tops of carrots, etc), and seaweed – this is a great way to ease yourself into eating seaweed! We buy seaweed from Atlantic Holdfast – this stuff is the best you can get! Garlic is a great addition, especially if you’re fighting off illness, and you can add whatever other seasoning is appealing to you, as well.

maitake mushroom growing on an oak stump

Maitake is a wonderful nutritive and immune modulator, making it a solid addition to bone broth.

Generally, my pot also has a few hands-full of root herbs as well: I particularly like to add a big handful of Codonopsis for the endocrine and immune support (not to mention its super-nourishing power!), Astragalus for immune system support, and Burdock and Dandelion for their great liver benefits. You can order these all at, and just toss the dried chopped or sliced bits right into the soup. They’ll boil up and once you get around to eating it, they’ll be just like little bits of vegetables in your bowl. Go ahead and add green things like Nettle Leaf, Dandelion Leaf, even fresh Parsley as well for their super nutrient content!


There’s no special preparation required – just dump everything into the pot. Use enough water to cover the bones well – some of the water will boil off over time, but that’s ok, you can just add more. All that’s left to do now is boil!

To make a good bone broth, you’ve got to let it simmer for a long time. A really long time. A day or two is ideal. But it doesn’t have to be all at once! I turn mine on whenever I’m in the kitchen. I get it up to a good rolling boil a few times a day, and turn it off again when I leave. Sometimes if I’m in and out of the kitchen, I’ll leave it on simmering for a few hours. Just don’t leave it on when you leave the house! My pot stays on the stove 24/7. Here in New England, we don’t have to worry too much about leaving food out – our climate isn’t such that it really encourages quick spoilage. If you live in the south, you might not get away with that: just put the whole pot, bones and all, into the fridge whenever you aren’t cooking it.

Once it’s boiled for several hours, you can already start eating it. We always have a pot on the stove, and try to drink a cup of broth with each meal, letting it come to a rolling boil each time before serving. Every so often I’ll put some more water in, and occasionally I might toss in extra bones too. Ideally, you want the chicken bones to get crumbly – soft enough that you can snap them with one hand. (If you’re souping beef bones, you might not get that far.) A pot of soup usually lasts us four or five days, once it’s ready: I’ll add extra water a time or two. Once I feel like we’ve gotten everything out of the bones there is to get, I put them in the compost and start over.

In our house, we like the broth just plain, with a bit of organic long-fermented miso paste and a handful of seaweed. You can also use this broth as the base for other soups or stews – whatever you like! No matter how you get it in you, it’s chock-full of minerals your body can easily assimilate!


  1. jan keyes on 21 April, 2012 at 4:06 am

    enjoyed reading this – as this is something i enjoy doing also… i love making soup stock in this manner – adding celery, carrot, onion, a handful of greens and nice immune enhancing mushrooms… perhaps a bit of kombu and, of course, some seasonings to the basic bone broth – then strain it out once the bones are spent and put it in manageable containers in the freezer. i can’t imagine buying soup stock in the grocery store – as it pales in comparison to this deliciously rich and wholesome base. i believe this is a great place to start when dealing with folks who have a low immunity … add a couple slices of astragalus root for jump starting that … or those awful tasting reishi mushrooms – maybe a little bit of that or some chaga or, as you suggest, maitake or shiitake for those folks dealing with chemo … gosh – it all starts with a good way of getting those cells able to be fed with the vitamins and minerals that are right there – growing and waiting for a pot and some water. ‘let food be our medicine!’ truer words were never spoken. thanks for reminding us of the simplicity and getting ‘back to basics’. kindest regards, fellow herbalist, jan keyes (in new jersey)

  2. CL on 4 June, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    My mother makes bone broth for the family pretty often. Usually it’s pork or chicken bone broth with a variety of vegetables thrown it. I didn’t know about the vinegar’s ability to draw out the nutrients though. I’ll suggest it to my mother!

  3. Lisa on 13 June, 2012 at 2:57 am

    It’s true. Such a healing food, and so easy. We love it plain, with sea salt or seaweed (if I have it).
    Or made into a soup. We try to have it most days in winter plus whenever someone might be feeling “under the weather” it snaps them right back to wellness.
    Only one thing: vinegar should not be added if your pot is not a good quality stainless steel or ceramic/ enamel lined pot. Otherwise is could leach metals from the pot. I’ve seen this happen and many folks (who don’t know it) are metal sensitive.

  4. katja on 8 January, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    That’s a really good point, Lisa! I never want to see folks using pots or pans that are made of anything but stainless, cast iron, or ceramic/enamel. Clay pots are good, if you have them, but usually they’re better in the oven. I’ve got an old stove-top-safe Pyrex soup pot too, though I don’t use it very often. If only glass weren’t so breakable – it’s really great for cooking!


  5. Johanna Keefe on 19 March, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I am just now spending some time on this lovely website and am delighted to see posts about bone broth and Paleo, as I have discovered the truth and goodness of raising children (and their parents to be) this way from their very beginnings for whole health. I encourage everyone who is reading this to view this very educational video, from a group of mothers who follow the nutritional principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation ~ ~ in setting up there own educational website, blog (called, Nourishing Our Children, ~ just click on the left hand side icon for the video for a 20 minute treat on the origins of this research ~ As a former clinical pediatric nurse in mental health, I was moved to search for root causes of chronic childhood disorders, and found that it is most likely the condition of the digestive lining which, if healthy can most likely promote in a child the perfect body/heart/mind/spirit health that is their birthright. I have recently becomed GAPS trained (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) from Dr. Natasha McBride, and encourage folks to go to her website for more information to read more about this. What a great program you seem to have here, Katja, I would would be happy to guest present at your Center on any of this, should you or your community have an interest for further discussion. My contact information is on my website,


  6. Jessica Sollee on 22 June, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Love the articles, esp. since I am an acupuncturist and can help my patients but also help myself. I have acid reflux and gluten sensitivity, and healing from living in a moldy environment from 1.5 years ago. Used seaweed to stop my cough in its track immediately. Powerful natural medicine. Thank you nature! Trying to switch over to apple cider vinegar from omeprazole. Incredible damage the western drug can do but it did help calm things at first. Now I am strong enough to try natural methods. I will also try the marshmallow root. This is so exciting. Thank you. Jess

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