Bone Broth: How To Make It And Why It is So Darn Good For You!
Low in calories while being densely packed with nutrition, bone broth is quickly becoming the new craze, and even being called a superfood. Unlike other fads, however, this delicious elixir's nutrients, which include protein, calcium, magnesium, collagen, gelatin and amino acids, may have a myriad of benefits for the body, including shinier hair, improved digestion, and reduced joint pain and inflammation.
I make a big pot every week (and it lasts about that long), and we use it every day. We drink it warm from a cup like tea, I use it to braise veggies, baste roasting meats, and of course as a base in soups and sauces. It's simple to make, has many uses, and tastes absolutely delicious. [Scroll down to see my favorite recipe.]
WHAT IS BONE BROTH?
Well, it's exactly what it sounds like. It's broth made by boiling bones from poultry, beef or fish, along with bits and pieces of meat, skin, and gristle attached to them. The bone broth can be made from one kind of animal, or it can be a mix. The cooking process is long (anywhere from 8-48 hours), much longer than you’d simmer a typical chicken or beef stock. The longer the bones simmer, the more they break down, releasing nutrients and minerals (in higher quantities than what's found in regular broths), and making the nutrient-rich collagen, gelatin, and glucosamine easier to digest.
Don't confuse home-made bone broth that uses organic and pastured animal bones with the mass-produced, store-bought stocks or broths, which most likely do not use high quality ingredients, are usually high in sodium, and oftentimes contain added sugar, artificial flavoring and/or coloring, which means that they are far from healthy, much less healing.
WHY BONE BROTH IS SO GOOD FOR YOU
I know you've heard that chicken soup is good for you, and chances are that you grew up in a home where your mother or grandmother raced to the kitchen to make some at the first sign of a cold. Well, there’s actually science behind this traditional custom. A study of chicken soup (broth) conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the amino acids produced during the cooking of chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. They found that chicken broth inhibits neutrophil migration (i.e., it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections). Additional research suggests that it can also boost the immune system and improve the symptoms and possibly even heal disorders like allergies, asthma, and arthritis.
Well, bone broth, whether from chicken, beef, fish or the bones of some other pasture-centered animal, is not so different. It is extraordinarily rich in protein, and can be a source of nutrients that your body can easily absorb, including glycine, proline, gelatin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and other trace minerals. It even contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds people spend a good chunk of money on to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. [Continued below...]
Looking for a great source of grass-fed beef bones for your bone broth? Or just an easy way to purchase a wide selection (way more vast than in Whole Foods or any grocery store I've seen) of grass-fed and pastured meats and wild-caught seafood? VOTED BEST ONLINE FOOD/PRODUCT SUPPLIER by Paleo Magazine, U.S. Wellness Meats is my personal choice for grass-fed beef, lamb, wild-caught seafood, free-range chicken, pastured pork, as well as grass-fed butter, pastured eggs, grass-fed soup bones, raw cheese, etc. Their pricing is reasonable and I've found the quality of their products exceptional.
If you're wondering what this all means in practice, I'll explain. Medical scientists have learned that your health is greatly dependent on the health of your intestinal tract. In fact, many modern diseases appear to be rooted in an unbalanced mix of microorganisms in your digestive system, as a result of an inappropriate and unbalanced diet that is too high in sugars and too low in healthful fats and beneficial bacteria. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), bone broth is excellent for "healing and sealing" your gut. As such, bone broth can help:
- Heal leaky gut, seal the gut and promote healthy digestion
- Reduce joint pain and inflammation
- Promote strong, healthy bones
- Inhibit infections caused by cold and flu viruses
- Fight chronic inflammation
- Promote healthy hair and nail growth
- Overcome foods intolerances and allergies
- Reduce cellulite
- Boost immune system
Even skeptics, like Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietician and author of The Flexitarian Diet, who spoke about it to the Huffington Post, agrees that bone broth has a number of benefits, even if she isn't willing to call it the next "superfood." According to her, "It's not a miracle cure like some outlets talk about, but still a good-for-you food. It is hydrating, contains veggie and herb anti-inflammatories and the bones provide collagen, a protein which may help with our own bone, joint and skin health."
ICING ON THE CAKE
And the icing on the cake? Making your own bone broth is very easy (especially after you do it just once) and extremely cost effective, because you:
1. Can reuse the bones. Yes, grass-fed bones can be expensive, but divide the cost by three, because that is how many times you can use the same bones to make bone broth. I salvage every bone and throw it back into the freezer until it's time to make another batch.
2. Don't have to buy new bones. Just remember never to put a bone in the garbage from your grass-fed steak, pastured chicken carcass or any other grass-fed meat you've eaten, even if someone ate from it. Yes, I know it sounds gross, but those bones are going into a pot that will be hot enough to kill off any germs immediately after the meal is over, so that is hardly something to worry about. However, if you are still skeeved out about this idea, just de-bone your meat before serving it and pop the bones into the freezer until you've collected enough to make your stock.
3. Will reduce your need for dietary supplements. As mentioned above, bone broth provides you with a variety of important nutrients—such as calcium, magnesium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and arginine—that you may otherwise be spending a good deal of money on in the form of supplements. [Recipe continued below...]
Easy Bone Broth Recipe
4 TBS Braggs Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Organic onions, quartered
1 Organic leek, with ends and top cut off
4 Organic unpeeled carrots , halved
Optional Additional Ingredients
2 TBS Sea Salt
2 TBS Black Peppercorns
8 Cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
1 bunch Parsley
1. Place the raw bones in a roasting pan and roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. If you are using bones that were left over from a roast or something that you had already cooked, you can skip this step.
2. After roasting, place the bones in a large stock pot and fill it with filtered water. The rule of thumb is about 1 gallon of water per every 2lbs of bones.
3. Add the 2TBS of vinegar and let them sit in the cold water with the stove off for about 20-30 minutes . The vinegar helps the minerals to be pulled out of the bones and into the stock. This is a super important step to maximize nutrition, so don’t skip it!
4. Add the vegetables (except for the parsley and garlic), salt, pepper, spices and herbs to the pot and bring the pot to a rolling boil.
4 Stalks of celery, halved
5. Reduce to a simmer and use a spoon to skim the surface and discard the impurities, which will form a frothy layer at the top. Healthy animals will produce much less of this unwanted froth at the top then conventional animals. Nevertheless, you’ll need to check the broth and skim it about every 30 minutes for the first couple of hours of cooking.
6. Leave the broth on simmer for the following times:
- Beef, bison or lamb – 48 hours
- Poultry - 24 hours
- Fish – 8 hours
6. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, toss in the garlic and parsley [Continued below...]
No time to make bone broth? Use this Perfect Hydrolyzed Collagen (which I personally love and use twice daily). It is made from grass-fed beef bones and provides many of the same benefits as bone broth. I swear by it to reduce joint pain and inflammation, strengthen my hair and nails, and even reduce cellulite!
7. Remove from heat when done and strain, using a fine metal strainer to remove all the bits. When the broth has cooled, store it in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze in freezer-safe glass for later. I use my left over pickle jars. I prefer that over large glass containers for ease of use.
8. After refrigeration, you may find a hard layer of fat at the top of the surface. Whether tallow (from beef) or schmaltz (from chicken), this is a highly useful and nutritious fat that can be used for cooking, so DON'T DISCARD IT!
I save mine and use it for dishes that require longer sauteing times. Olive oil, coconut oil and butter have lower smoke points, which literally means that the temperature at which the oil begins to burn and smoke. It is at this point that the oil becomes damaged, filled with free radicals and toxic to the body, so it isn't advisable to push oil to these limits when sauteing for longer periods of time. However, animal fat doesn't break down and turn rancid when exposed to high heat, and is therefore, far safer for you than the alternative.
Need mason jars?
These 32oz Ball Mason Wide Mouth Jars with Lids are perfect for storing, preserving, and/or freezing anything from bone broth to jams and sauces.
I store mine in a small glass container (or jar) and refrigerate for later use. If you use vegetable, canola, corn or any other rancid oils, this is a far better and less expensive alternative. Even if you only cook with olive, coconut and avocado oils, this is healthier to avoid overheating the healthy oils, thereby making these carcinogenic as well.
If you don' t feel comfortable leaving your stove on while you're sleeping, you can make the same stock in your slow cooker or Instant Pot. Just use the same recipe above (adjusting for the size of your specific pot) and bring the broth to an initial boil on high in your slow cooker, then lower the setting to low and leave it on for the desired amount of time.