I'll admit — it sounds a little barbaric. But bear with me, and you just might be adding a steaming mug of bone broth to your morning routine sooner than you think.
What Is Bone Broth?
At first glance, it's not much — a few chunks of beef marrow bones or a chicken carcass, veggie scraps and water. But it is homemade culinary magic, I tell you. While I drink it plain with some sea salt in a mug, it can also be the basis for any tasty soup, sauce, stew or gravy. Auguste Escoffier, a legend in French haute cuisine, said, "Indeed, stock is everything in cooking...without it nothing can be done."
We're starting to come around, but for the most part, our ancestors were far less wasteful than we are with food. A cow was used for its milk before finally being used for its meat. And even then, the whole cow was made to go a long way. Aside from the meaty parts that we typically beeline for in the grocery store (think skinless chicken breasts and tenderloins), every cow leaves behind pounds of bones, cartilage, offal (organs) and other trimmings. Back in the day, each piece was put to good use, and our ancestors reaped the nutrient-dense benefits. As the old adage goes, "Waste not, want not." Well, we've been wasting, so our health is wanting.
Why Should I Drink Homemade Bone Broth?
- High nutritive value:
- "Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily — not just calcium, but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons — stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, which are now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain" (Fallon). It is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital for healthy connective tissue (ligaments, joints, etc.). And finally, because of this high mineral content, it can help remineralize teeth!
- In my own life, I've seen gelatin (a main proponent in any good bone broth)
majorly support my thyroid and balance out my hormones. Studies have shown that it's also linked to clearing excess estrogen from the body, while nourishing overworked adrenal glands.
- Low cost:
- I recently bought 2 lbs. of grass-fed beef marrow bones for $1.50. Beat that. [The butcher might have asked me if they were for my pets. I tried to look offended.] And if you're already cooking and eating meat or a whole chicken, just reserve the bones for use later in the freezer — no extra cost to you!
- Gelatin is one of the most functional foods out there. When it leaches out from the cartilage and bones into the broth liquid, it will gel slightly when cooled. This is a great thing and means your gelatin content is high. For centuries, gelatin has been used in the treatment of peptic ulcers, colitis and Crohn's disesase. Gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, so it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut (Fallon).
- Everyone else is doing it:
- Stocks and broths like these are still used almost universally in France, Italy, China, Japan, and all over Africa and South America, yet they've all but disappeared from American culinary tradition. We've sadly opted to let food industry leaders cut corners in food preparation, in turn cutting corners with our own health.
- Store-bought broths can contain some scary stuff:
- I just checked a can of Swanson beef broth's ingredients for you: Yeast Extract, Salt, Flavoring, Monosodium Glutamate, Caramel Color, Onion Juice Concentrate, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Soy Lecithin. Gross...and no thank you.
How Do I Make Bone Broth?
If you own a crock pot or slow cooker...it's a breeze! [And if you don't, then it's only one percent less of a breeze, I promise.**] I prefer the taste of beef bone broth/stock, but if you're sticking with chicken, check out Nourished Kitchen's method here.
You will need:
- a few pounds of beef marrow bones
- freezer bag of veggie scraps, such as onion ends and peels, carrot ends and peels, parsley, celery leaves, etc. [I've been advised not to use veggies from the Brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) because it oddly affects the flavor.]
- a couple of garlic cloves, chopped roughly
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 T of unfiltered apple cider vinegar for every pound of bone matter
- plenty of filtered water
- Place all clean bones in a roasting pan and roast at 400ºF for 40-60 minutes. This will greatly enhance the flavor of the finished product, so don't skip this step! Drain off the fat.
- Throw the roasted bone chunks, along with all other ingredients, into your slow cooker. Cover with filtered water.
- Simmer on high for at least eight hours, to get the most enhanced flavor. I usually simmer mine for a minimum of 24 hours, and then keep it going even longer by continuously adding extra water as I take out ladles of the broth to drink each day. By the end of the week though, start fresh with some new ingredients.
- Skim off any "junk" or foam from the top and discard. When you've finished simmering your stock, ladle through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and store in jars or other glass containers.
- The stock should set a little bit like gelatin, and the fat will sit on top. After refrigerating, you can scoop the fat off the top and reserve to use as cooking oil later.
- Stock can be kept refrigerated for up to a week as long as you reboil it before use. Freeze any excess for 4-5 months.
**If you don't have a slow cooker, simply bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot. Then set to simmer, watching water levels and paying heed to the heat below the pot — can be a tad daunting leaving a gas burner on low all night long. Did I mention a basic slow cooker is only $20 on Amazon?
Have you ever made bone broth or stock before? What was your experience? Any tips or tricks to share with other readers? Leave a comment below!
Fallon, Sally, with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. Nourishing Traditions. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Second Edition, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. www.newtrendspublishing.com/SallyFallon/index.html