Optional: roast your bones for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, for extra flavor, before adding them to the soup pot.
Place the bones, along with the rest of the ingredients, in a large soup pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer (just barely bubbling). Cook for at least 8 hours, and as long as 24 hours. The longer you cook it, the more nutritious your broth becomes. (The only exception is fish bones: they’re so small, you only need to cook them for a few hours.)
If you cook the broth for longer than 8 hours, check the water level occasionally. If you don’t have a tight-sealing lid on your pot, you may need to add water once or twice a day.
Optional: When your broth is almost ready, remove the cover, increase the heat back to a simmer, and cook it one final hour. This evaporates some of the water and concentrates the broth, which can give it more flavor and a more gelatinous appearance. It’s not a necessary step; it’s a personal choice.
When it’s time to strain the stock, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the larger vegetables and bones. Then, place a mesh strainer over a large heat-proof bowl and pour the broth through the strainer. You’ll be left with a beautiful, translucent liquid. Pour it into glass jars, allow to cool for 1 hour, and then refrigerate.
As the broth cools in the refrigerator, the fat will harden on the surface. This is good, as it keeps the broth fresh longer. As you use each jar, you can remove the fat and use it for cooking other things, or leave it in the broth. As long as there’s a thick fat seal, the broth should keep well in the fridge for weeks. However, it’s a thin fat seal or the seal is broken, use it within 5 days. You can also freeze broth for up to 6 months.
You can use this broth as a base for soups, casseroles and stews, or you can simply add salt and your favorite herbs and drink a cup alongside your meal. Be prepared: this broth is highly nutritious, but it won’t taste like the stuff from a can. There are no artificial flavor enhancers added, so it may seem bland by comparison, but trust me: store-bought broth subtracts from your health, while homemade bone broth adds to it.
If you’re cooking bone broth for a large family, perpetual broth is a creative solution. Instead of using your stove, put all the ingredients in a crockpot. Fill with water, but not all the way to the top. (Many crockpots can overflow over long cooking times.) Turn it up to high until it begins to boil, and then turn it down to low. Within a few hours, you can start drinking it (use a ladle to scoop some out). Replenish as needed with fresh water. You can keep the broth going for 5-7 days. At that point, drain the crockpot, throw out the bones, wash it clean, and start over.