DIY: Bone Broth and Lard/Tallow
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
Are you getting the full joy, nutrition, and use out of the TOTW products and even other food products that you bring home?
I put together this how-to to show you how to easily and quickly make your own broth and tallow/lard from the meat products that you consume.
This time around I used Chris's elk that he harvested this fall. This meat compares closely with our grass-fed and finished lamb because elk usually never get the chance to eat grain and they produce lean yet rich meat that is dark red and flavorful.
Using bones from an animal finished on grain products will work and will most likely yield similarly tasty and nutritious fat to work with for rendering lard or tallow.
Why make your own bone broth?
I always need broth. I use it for a multitude of recipes. Curries, stews, soups, beans, roasts, marinades, sauces, seasoned rice, the list is endless.
Our intern last summer would drink the broth as a mid-day refuel, when she was doing her sugar-detox!
Home-made broth is so much tastier, healthier for you than the dehydrated versions you find at the grocery store, and broth is made from the parts of products that you pay for, but don't usually end up eating. Why not get the nutrition and taste from these parts rather than just throwing them away?
Step 1) Keep a Broth Supplies Container in your freezer.
This way you can accumulate scraps (veggie and fruit peels and skins, bones, eggshells, etc.) in your freezer until you are ready to make your next batch of broth. You can keep a lot of different would-be discards for broth. I like to add eggshells for calcium, onion peels, the chicken carcass and skin after the whole chicken has been cooked and devoured, carrot tops, celery butts, squash skins, roasted veggie oils from the bottom of the pan- things along these lines. The best part about making broth from scraps in my opinion, is that every batch is different, but tastes so very good!
You can also really influence the character of your broth with the seasonings you add to it.
*If you are starting with just bones, I recommend seasoning and baking them first for maximum flavor!
Place your broth bones on a cookie sheet, season with your favorite base spices like salt, pepper, rosemary, time, oregano.
Place in the oven at 425 F for 25 minutes.
Now your bones are ready to make broth with!*
Step 2) Add your pile of scraps to the biggest pot you have and fill it all the way up with water.
My favorite stock pot measures 16" X 12" and I can fit entire elk and beef femur bones into it to cook off the connective tissues and meat stuck to the ends for nutrition and taste. You can make broth in any sized-pot, but the bigger the better in my opinion because the water will evaporate and you will have to refill it at times. The bigger the pot, the longer the interval between refills.
Step 3) Season your broth.
This is where you add that character to the broth. I usually consider what I have added and what I want to make in the near future. For example if I'm making a chicken-feet and bones broth and I want to make a spicy tortilla soup or spanish rice with the broth I add cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, some jalapeno tops and seeds (from a batch of salsa I made the other day), and garlic (just throw the whole entire clove in, no need to take the skin or ends off). I usually salt the broth at the end or I just add salt to whatever recipe I am making with the broth if needed.
Step 4) Simmer the broth mixture for 8 to 10 hours.
This is where the rubber meets the road and the masterpiece is created. I suggest starting the broth on simmer at a time when you can check on it every hour at first to make sure it isn't boiling. The water does tend to evaporate off and the flavors concentrate this way. You just want a simmer, with small bubbles and steam, not a hard boil. Keep the pot at least half full during the entire process so the broth does not burn to the bottom of the pan. I have made a couple of accidental batches of "smoky broth" this way, which can be a nice flavor addition to some recipes, but I would not recommend doing this on purpose....
I usually start a batch of broth when I get home from work, then turn it off when I go to sleep and finish it in the morning before I head out to work again. Or I simmer a batch all day if I am home doing other things. If you stop a batch part-way through you can put it in your fridge until you are ready to finish it (make sure the pot will fit in your fridge before you start!) You can also make broth in the crock-pot if you want to leave it unattended and have it shut off automatically and "keep warm" at the end of your selected time frame. You need your both to stay at 200 degrees F until you are ready to store it in the fridge or use it in a recipe, in order to minimize the change of harmful bacteria growth.
*I don't recommend using a pressure cooker or instant pot for this process because it skips the low and slow breakdown of the nutritious ingredients in your broth.
Step 5) Taste the broth!
Add any seasonings you may think it needs- again keep in mind what the future use of your broth will be. If there is a layer of fat on top you have a couple options. If the fat adds a flavor that you would like to incorporate into your broth leave it in! You might want to ladle the fat into jars while it is a liquid so you can make sure it gets into each jar in an equal amount. If you do not want to add the tallow or lard layer into your broth you can ladle it off as a liquid into another pot and render the fat which will cook the liquid off so you can use for other purposes. Or you can let your broth cool and the fat layer will solidify. You can then gather the solid fat into the container of choice to use for other purposes later.
Step 6) Ladle the broth into jars and store in the fridge or freezer.
Since I use such a large pot, I cannot pour the broth into jars so I use a ladle to remove the broth. I like quart jars for this step: a quart just seems to be the right amount for most recipes that I make. If you ladle the broth while it is hot and you use canning jars with self-sealing lids the heat automatically ads an extra freshness tight-seal as the broth cools.
For freezing broth you need to leave some space for the liquid to expand as it freezes. I usually leave 1/3 of the jar empty for this purpose. If you don't do this you can ruin your jars and lids let alone your broth, so don't forget to leave that extra space!
You can also freeze broth in ice cube trays and transfer the ice cubes, once frozen to another container to make them easy to add to recipes while still frozen.
Step 7) Enjoy your refrigerated broth as quickly as possible, and frozen broth within a year.
Next time you are preparing a recipe that calls for broth just pull out one of your jars and dump it in! Presto!
P.S.-It is normal for the broth to solidify in the fridge. These are the extra nutrients and fats just doing their thing as they cool and they will again turn to liquid as you heat them up. If your broth doesn't slide out of the jar after refrigeration, use a spoon or quickly heat the jar under warm water in your sink.
What do I do with all the scraps?
As long as those bones that you used haven't dissolved, you can keep using them to make more batches of broth. If you used whole bones like I did this go-round you probably haven't even accessed the rich nutrition of the marrow yet.
To get to the marrow you can break the bones or cut them with a bone saw. I would recommend researching how to do this effectively and safely before you try it out. The bones are softer and easier to break/cut once you have used them to make a couple of batches of broth.
If you have furry friends in your household you can give the cooked bones to them as a special treat once you are finished with them. Check out Canine Crockpot Cuisine. There is a PDF when you do a google search that has come good recipes and common practices when cooking for your dogs.
As for all the bits that have fallen off the bones give them a try! You might want to eat this tender rich and nutritious meat yourself. You could re-unite it with your broth and some veggies to make a nice stew or soup or you could eat it in a recipe that calls for fall-of-the-bone meat like seasoned tacos.
I like to feed the cooked-down veggie scraps and peels to my dogs and they love them.
Now, about that tallow!
You can use tallow and lard (tallow is from beef, elk, lamb, goat, and deer/ lard is from pork and bear) in similar ways that you would use butter, oil, and shortening.
As an unfortunate lactose-intolerant eater, I absolutely love lard as a straight-across substitute for butter in recipes. Lard also makes great tortillas and has a high burning point so it does not smoke like many oils that you might use for frying. Lard is supposed to yield the absolute best pie crusts- I can vouch for that!
If you do-not like the taste of the lard or tallow that you made, use it to make soap or candles- I'll save this project for a future blog-post/email.
Let me know how your broth turns out, or if you have any questions.
I'm excited to hear how it goes!