As a person interested in health, you’ve probably heard about bone broth by now. Many traditional cultures use it as a healing agent. Some consider it an almost magical elixir. A quick look at the benefits attributed to it may have you wanting to gulp the stuff daily.
It may repair leaky gut syndrome.
The gelatin found in good bones (knuckles, feet, and other joints) that have been simmered for hours can protect guts and can repair “leaky guts” – those with damaged intestines. Over time, this can reduce chronic diarrhea, constipation, and may improve some food sensitivities.
It may relieve joint pain.
Many who suffer from joint pain take glucosamine, which we’ve known for some time may reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain. Bone broth not only has naturally occurring glucosamine, it has other naturally occurring, interrelated components – components that supplements can’t fully replicate, such as chondroitin sulfate, which has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis.
It builds bones.
When bone broth is made correctly, it can contain minerals found inside bones and teeth. Each sip can shore up your structural foundation by providing you with essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium.
It restores vitality to skin, hair, and nails.
When we stopped making traditional bone broth, we unknowingly created a deficit of hydrolyzed collagen, a protein that gives skin its firmness and elasticity. While you can get it through supplements, bone broth is not only cheaper but works synergistically from the inside out.
It may improve memory and help you sleep better.
Recent research has shown that glycine can help people sleep better and improve memory. Bone broth provides a good source of glycine availability to the body.
It’s a good source of protein.
According to Caitlin VanDreason, RD, clinical nutrition manager at the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, bone broth is a fairly good source of protein, containing 6 to 12 grams per cup. Protein is an essential building block, benefiting bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
It offers immune support and acts as a remedy for upper respiratory tract infections.
While research is still decidedly limited, a recent study in the journal Chest indicates that “chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity. A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could result in the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections.”
It reduces food waste and saves money.
By using chicken carcasses, soup bones, and veggies for bone broth, you save them from languishing in your fridge until you toss them in the garbage. Use a carcass and you’ll double your money making more meals for the price of one.
To ensure you reap the potential benefits of bone broth, you should know the difference between it and its cousin, stock. Bone broth is defined by its thickness (due to gelatin) and exceptionally long cooking time – about 6 hours for chicken bone broth and 16 to 18 for beef or lamb, according to Marco Canora.
A bone broth can’t really be overcooked, he says, because the point is to break down all of the cartilage until there’s a lot of collagen-rich gelatin in that broth.
Ready to try it for yourself? Here are two versions to enjoy. We recommend using organic ingredients as much as possible, including bones from organic, pastured animals
Chicken Bone Broth
4 lbs. chicken necks/feet/wings
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, peel on, sliced in half lengthwise and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
1 tsp. Himalayan salt
1 tsp. whole peppercorns
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 sprigs parsley
1 tsp. oregano
18-20 c. cold water
- Place all ingredients in a 10-quart capacity slow-cooker. Add water.
- Simmer for 24-48 hours, skimming fat occasionally.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander.
- Let stock cool to room temperature, then cover and chill.
Use within one week or freeze it for up to 3 months.
Basic Beef Bone Broth
3.5 to 4 lbs. beef bones (Any type will do, but for the richest, most gelatinous broth, add some collagen-rich knuckles, tails, feet, or neck bones.)
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4-6 qt. water
- Optional: Brown the bones first to give your broth a deeper, richer flavor. Preheat oven to 375° F. Spread the bones out on a large roasting pan. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned.
- Put the bones in a large stockpot or 6 to 8-quart slow cooker. Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the bones by an inch or two.
- Cook on low heat, covered, for at least 8 hours – or up to 24 to extract the most nutrients and flavor. Occasionally skim the foam and fat from surface. The broth is done when it has a rich, savory flavor and deep reddish-brown color.
- Pour the broth through a strainer to remove all solid ingredients, then cool the broth quickly by pouring it into a shallow and wide container. When the broth has cooled, cover and refrigerate.
Use the refrigerated stock within several days or freeze it for several months.
Image by Mr.TinDC, via Flickr