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Bone Broth: What You Need to Know

bone broth

Growing up, my mother always made chicken or turkey soup whenever she had the bones. And then, by the time I was in high school, she stopped making it.

Our generation grew up with grandparents and parents who would use as much as they could from the food they bought. But then superstores and discount grocery stores popped up everywhere and food became relatively cheap compared to the other things we bought, and I guess we started making more money, too. So rather than trying to extract every last drop of nutrition and taste from the chicken or turkey, it was like, “Fuck it, I’m over chicken. Let’s have steak tomorrow night.” Right?

All cultures have a tradition of using bones as food and medicine and I think we can all benefit from making bone broth. Broth is rich in minerals. In many Asian countries where people are unable to fully digest dairy, bone broth is like a mineral supplement. In China, it’s called Longevity Soup.

I’m going to teach you all that you need to make amazingly nutritious bone broth. But first, I see a lot of confusion between bone broth and stock made from bones. Let’s clear this up before we all go to the trouble of making bone broth – let’s do it right!

What’s the Difference Between Bone Broth and Stock?

A big difference, actually. Both bone broth and stock may be made with the same ingredients (bones and aromatic herbs and vegetables) but bone broth is cooked much, much longer than plain old stock. Seriously though – up to 72 hours for beef and pork bones and 12 hours for chicken. Minerals don’t get destroyed by the cooking process like vitamins do and the long cooking time breaks down the bone into a broth rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.

Benefits of bone broth

  • Beautifying! Bone broth is full of collagen, gelatin, amino acids and minerals, which help to nourish our hair, skin, nails and teeth. This is why I call it ‘Beauty Broth.’ But seriously, BB is like a healthy BB cream that you take internally. (Let’s market that.)
  • Rich in minerals in an easily absorbable form. BB is excellent at nourishing and rebuilding your body after you’ve been sick or have had surgery. BB is also soothing to the digestive tract for those with digestive complaints or more serious digestive issues.
  • Supports joint and bone health. All the glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid in collagen are like mother’s milk for arthritic joints. Mineral rich BB is a staple natural calcium supplement for many women in Asian countries who can’t digest dairy. And the holistic idea that like cures like is one reason why osteoporosis is virtually nonexistent outside of North America. To strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis, have some bone broth.
  • Helps to heal inflammation and leaky gut.
  • Keeps your immune system healthy. BB is amazing for cold weather wellness, where we need to give our immune systems all the love we can. (Studies have actually found that chicken soup does help to cure the common cold.)

How to Make Bone Broth

What you’ll need:

  1. Bones – any bones, joints and marrow bones from chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork… As long as they’re from happy, pastured animals. Buy your bones or meat from a good butcher! Sometimes I buy bones right from the butcher and other times I save bones from a roasted chicken, etc. in the freezer until I have enough to make BB with.
  2. Acid – this is the second most important ingredient in your bone broth. The acid helps to break down the bone matrix and get all those nutrients into your broth. I use a big splash of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Here’s a nerd fact: in traditional culinary stock recipes, the natural acids in the aromatic veggies help to pull the minerals from the bones.
  3. Aromatics – this is a completely optional step as it’s really just for taste! I use the same ingredients as plain old stock, such as some lovely aromatic veggies (garlic, onion, carrots and celery) and, if you like, some aromatic herbs (whole peppercorns, bay leaf, ginger, dried turmeric root, parsley stems, rosemary, thyme, whatever). No need to chop, really, as everything will be strained out later. Leave the onion and garlic skin on for added nutrients. (And for culinary snobs/nerds, you can turn your fancy stocks into bone broth by adjusting the cooking time. You will be blown away because you’ll have much richer and fuller tasting stocks.)

How to do it:

  • Put the bones, aromatic veggies and herbs into a big pot and cover with water.
  • Heat until boiling. Add apple cider vinegar.
  • Once the bone broth starts to boil, scuzz will appear. Strain it away with a spoon and discard.
  • Pop on the top and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook it and cook it (6 to 12 hours for chicken bones and 12 to 72 hours for beef and pork bones).
  • Let cool, strain and enjoy. You’ll know you rocked it when your broth is like jello at room temperature.
  • And to skim off fat or not to skim, that is the question. If I’ve used chicken bones that I’ve bought from the butcher, the BB will be a little too fatty for my taste – I chill it and skim off some of the fat. If it looks like there’s a thick, layer of fat on the top, skim a bit. Paleo peeps may say to leave it but I prefer a little less fat.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add your BB to your soups, sautee veggies in it, make egg drop soup or sip it between meals. Freeze it to have in case you get sick. Keeps up to one week in the fridge.

Note: go slowly with BB if you’re sensitive to MSG, as BB will has some of the same natural compounds.

Wishing you all the benefits of an internal BB cream. xo Andrea


Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Weston Price Foundation

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