It's that time of year again: a little chilly outside, a little damp. It kind of 'gets in your bones.'
So what better way to warm your soul than to make a delicious soup, or even sip on something warm and soothing? Enter bone broth. What is it? Why should you drink it? And of course, how do you make it? Today I’m giving you the quickie primer on everything you need to know about bone broth.
WHAT IS BONE BROTH??
If you have done much cooking, you’ve likely made some soup stocks. This requires roasting bones (with some meat left on them) and then simmering for a few hours. While stock is rich in gelatin and collagen, bone broth is even more mineral-dense. You simmer the bones for long periods of time (at least 24 hours) which leeches all the good nutrients right out of them. Basically, all that is left is the crumbly remnants of the bones. (1)
Any bones can be used, but your choice might depend on what your priorities are. If you are working on keeping your joints strong and alleviating inflammation, then you might want to aim for things like chicken feet, knuckles, and necks. If you are more into the bone-strengthening effects, then larger femurs would be fine. Really, any bone-backs will do. I often ask the butcher for whatever ‘bone-backs” they have, and they sell them to me for a song. Just remember, that you are taking in the nutrition of that animal, and they better be healthy. You want organic and pastured animals if possible. BTW- the tastiest broth I ever made was from oxtail. Yummy!
WHY EXACTLY WOULD THIS BE A GOOD IDEA??
As mentioned before, bone broth is very mineral-dense. It’s loaded with magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. And unlike a mineral supplement, you don’t have to worry about your body not being able to absorb these forms. If you are taking a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement, bone broth might be a better option as it has fabulous amounts of these that aid in joint health and fight inflammation. Arthritis be gone! Bone broth has high amounts of gelatin (broken down collagen) that we need for healthy skin, bones and joints.
Another interesting benefit of bone broth is that it’s high in glycine and proline.(2) These amino acids have been found to counteract the negative effects of methionine from excess muscle meats.(3) I’m sure you've all heard the scary media articles that come out telling you meat would kill you dead on the spot. Well, stop eating muscle meat, and get the other stuff in: grisle, joints, dark meat, marrow, and connective tissue.
Last, but definitely not least, bone broth is great for gut healing. 70-80% of our immunity is based in our gut health.(4) Sadly, many of us suffer from gastrointestinal health challenges related to environmental toxins, consumption of inflammatory foods (gluten, processed dairy, sugar), and overuse of antibiotics and over-the-counter pain relief has left us all quite leaky.(5) Bone broth, which is high in gelatin, can increase gastric acid secretion and restore healthy mucosal lining of the gut. This means easier digestion and better gut integrity. Gelatin also absorbs water in the intestinal lining to keep BMs oh so regular...(6)
OKAY, OKAY, SOUNDS LIKE I NEED IT. BUT HOW HARD IS THIS GOING TO BE?
Even if you are not a culinary genius, making bone broth is so easy! Oh, and it’s also super cost-effective as you can save all the bones you have left over from your meals and just freeze them. Once you have a pound or two, you’re ready to go. I have starting saving the ends of my veggies (discards from greens, potatoes, celery, carrots, etc) and freeze those as well to use towards the end of the broth. Below is how I do my own broth. It’s what tastes best to me and has morphed over the years. Under that I have links to other bone broth recipes you might want to look into.
DANIELLA’S HOME MADE BONE BROTH RECIPE
First, make sure to buy or save up at least 1-2lbs of bones to put into a 5 qt slow cooker or stock pot. I have yet to jump on the InstaPot bandwagon, but have only heard great things about this quicker alternative. This will be enough to make at least 10 mugs of broth. I also use this for simmering sauces and cooking meats that are on the drier side. Of course, it’s a great base for all kinds of soups:
- 1-2lbs bones
- 1/4-1/3C apple cider vinegar
- Juice from one lemon
- 4-6 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2T peppercorns
- Sprinkling of sea salt
- 1-2C vegetable ends (onions, celery, carrots, greens, etc)
- 1T thyme
- Handful of fresh parsley if you have it
- Roast the bones to bring out the flavor if they are not already cooked. I just put them on the broiler for 20-30 min.
- Layer them on the bottom of the pot. Then add in the vinegar and filtered water to the top. Put the pot on high for up to one hour to get it going, then turn down to a low simmer.
- Depending on how long you are going to cook your broth, you’ll want to add in the rest of the ingredients around 4-6 hours before you’re done.
- I tend to do 24 hours for smaller bones and up to 48 hours for the larger ones. Although you may want it going even longer for really big ones. Make sure to check the water every 12 hours or so to make sure it’s hasn’t evaporated too much.
- Once it’s done, turn it off and let it sit for an hour to cool. Then strain out all the bones and veggie pieces.
- Refrigerate it overnight and skim off the top layer of fat. What you have left is just healthy wonderfulness. I often have a cup when I get home from work to warm my bones and prepare me for a relaxed dinner.
Here are a few other recipes you might want to check out:
I realize that all this work might not be for all of you. If that’s the case, there are actually places you can get bone broth ready-made. DO NOT buy something in the store that comes on the shelf and looks like a real animal had nothing to do with it. Instead, you might want to look into your local farmer’s market. You might also find it frozen at Whole Foods. If you are in the Bay Area, Belcampo Meats has their own bone broth ready to buy. Online I know you can find really good quality bone broth at the The Brothery.
Links to More Resources