You may have heard the words bone broth lately, as they seem to have become the new health trend, especially among the Paleo & Primal community. And although store bought chicken and beef stocks might be used in kitchens today as a base for sauces and gravies, let us be clear on something; traditional home made broth and the little cubes of stock you get at the store are two completely different things. In that aspect, making real bone broth is a little bit of a lost art.
“Good broth will resurrect the dead”, says a South American proverb. Although that is obviously an exaggeration of bone broth’s benefits, I do believe it to be extremely healing. And in a way it is almost magical. Bone broth has been prepared in kitchens and firesides for millennia, and used both as a highly nutritious food and as an elixir with many medicinal properties. Grandmas, midwives and healers across the world have known of its many benefits for a long time, and the list of ailments it can treat is long. Here’s why:
It’s loaded with minerals, more precisely calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon and other trace minerals, which are easily absorbed and makes those nutrients more bio-available than any for of supplement you can buy in a store. All these minerals play a key role in boosting your immune system and protecting you against viruses.
It’s very rich in collagen, which is also sold in a form of supplement (and is quite expensive) and has many interesting health benefits, from healing gut issues to giving you beautiful hair and skin.
It’s an excellent source of glucosamine, a crystalline compound in connective tissues, which when synthesized is used to treat arthritis.
Reasons why you (and your family) should drink bone broth:
#1. It strengthens your immune system. Remember how your grandma always fed you chicken broth when you were sick as a kid? Don’t you remember feeling better almost instantly? And we’re not only taking about boosting you immune system to fight the cold and flu. “A Harvard study even showed that some people with auto-immune disorders experienced a relief of symptoms when drinking bone broth, with some achieving a complete remission.”
#2. It heals your gut. For people suffering from leaky gut syndrome, allergies, or digestive issues, bone broth can be a game changer. The gelatin in the broth helps seal up holes in intestines. The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese.
#3. It makes your bones stronger. As I mentioned earlier, bone broth is very rich in glucosamine, which is mostly known as a dietary supplement to treat, relieve and prevent osteoarthritis. Unlike the supplement though, bone broth doesn’t have any (negative) side effects and is a much more bio-available source of glucosamine. The high concentration of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are also essential building blocks to healthy cartilage .
#4. It helps your body fight inflammation. As we know, too much inflammation in the body can do nasty things. Thanks to anti-inflammatory amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine, drinking your bone broth helps you combat inflammation. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis (whole-body inflammation). And glycine has shown in many studies to help provide better quality sleep, which, you guessed it, also helps keeping inflammation under control.
#5. It makes you look beautiful. Thanks to the collagen in bone broth, your skin will look younger, you nails will be stronger, and your hair shinier. I can attest to that personally. Every time I have a cup, I get that instant glow on my face. And I am not sure whether that’s a coincidence or not, but I have been drinking broth for a couple months now and I feel like my hair is growing for the first time in 5 years. Not the reason I drink it, but a welcomed side bonus 🙂
#6. It is suuuuuper economical. Even if you splurge on top quality pasture raised animals (which you should), making broth is probably the most nutritious thing you can make with such a small price tag. I usually spend between $0 (when using the carcass of a roast I would have thrown out otherwise) to $15 (pasture raised beef marrow bones) which yields about 1.5 gallons of broth. I use it in my cooking and drink it on a regular basis and I still have a lot of my last batch I made 3 weeks ago. If you’re on a budget and can’t afford good quality meat, this is a nice alternative that can provide you with all the same (and more) health benefits. Plus, you will be getting a load of extra minerals and nutrients so no need to spend money on expensive supplements!
#7. It’s easy to make. Although it may be intimidating at first, it’s one of the easiest things you will ever cook. Annnd it will make your whole house smell amazing (the chicken version especially). Here’s instructions on how to make the broth, and please keep in mind that this isn’t rocket science and modifying quantities or adding things that aren’t on the list is perfectly appropriate.
You will need bones from healthy animals, preferably pasture raised, and you can choose to use either chicken or beef, or whatever else you can get your hands on. Remember that the healthier the animal was, the more beneficial the broth will be. For added flavor, you can choose to add any vegetable of your choice, which can be a wonderful way to use vegetable scraps in the kitchen. I also love to add fresh herbs and/or spices for an extra boost.
BEEF BROTH RECIPE
- about 5lbs of marrow and/or knuckle bones
- 3 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped into large chunks
- 1 leek, end trimmed, chopped into large chunks
- 3 celery stalks, chopped into large chunks
- 1 to 4 cloves of garlic, halved crosswise (use less or more based on taste)
- 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (Italian parsley works best)
- a small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup vinegar (preferably raw apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tbsp of whole black peppercorns, crushed
- additional spices to taste (coriander seeds, marjoram, basil, cumin seeds, turmeric, or whatever you like)
- any leafy green vegetable, to add in the last hours of simmering
- about 3 liters of filtered water
***If you’d rather make a chicken broth, use mostly the same recipe and instructions. I like to make a chicken broth the day after making a roast chicken, that way the carcass doesn’t go to waste and has all that extra flavor from roasting.***
What to do:
Start your oven at 400f. First thing you will need to do is to roast your bones, this extra step will add a lot of flavor to the broth. To do so, place the bones either in a baking dish or in a cast iron pan, sprinkle with sea salt and coarse pepper, fresh thyme and rosemary and bake for about 20 minutes or until the marrow is cooked. It should detach from the bone. Feel free to scoop out the marrow and eat some right away, that stuff is delicious.
Once bones are done, place in a large pot along with veggies and vinegar, and cover with water. If 3 liters isn’t enough, add more. the bones and veggies should be submerged in water. Cover and bring to a boil. A large amount of “scum” will come up to the top, and you should make sure to remove it, using a spoon, otherwise it will give a horrible taste to your broth. Once you’ve removed all or most of the scum that came to the surface, lower broth to a simmer and add fresh thyme, bay leaves and spices. Leave on a simmer for at least 12 hours but preferably longer. I let mine simmer for almost 2 days. You can add the parsley and leafy greens about 30 minutes before the end.
Once done, take lid off and allow to cool down till it reaches almost room temperature. Remove bones and large chunks of vegetables using tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the broth using a fine mesh sieve. Place the strained broth in the fridge overnight, to allow the fat to come to the top. Remove solidified fat using a spoon. The broth can be stored in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for as long as you need, either in plastic bag or plastic containers. That’s all. Now you have bone broth ready to go for recipes, for those days when you’re under the weather or simply to sip on on a cold day.