What is bone broth?
You might be thinking that bone broth is just another word for stock or soup. While they are similar, bone broth is so much more than a base for stews and braises! Bone broth has been used for centuries as a holistic cure-all, and is now having a renaissance as support for immune function, gut health, joint health, sleep, and more.
While you can find a variety of pre-made bone broths on supermarket shelves, it is one of the easiest things you can make yourself. Depending on your tastes and what you have available, you can make bone broth from beef, chicken, pork, or even fish bones, or a combination! Many people like to add extra bits like chicken feet to bump up the rich collagen and gelatin content. But have no fear! We’ve got a basic bone broth recipe at the bottom of this post for you to try.
What do you do with bone broth?
Bone broth has been used for centuries as both sustenance and medicine. Chinese medicine has used bone broth to support digestive and kidney health, and Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, recommended it for detoxification and digestion. Our early ancestors would not have wasted a single piece of an animal, so they had to find ways to use the bones, joints, tendons, and other inedible bits.
Nowadays, we still don’t want to waste any part of the animal, but we are fortunate to have access to just about any part of any animal any time we want. Most supermarkets with a butcher offer beef bones at the very least. Often, you can find pork knuckles, chicken feet, and fish heads, all of which help make for a rich, nutritious broth—in a pinch, boiling the leftover carcass of a roaster chicken works, too.
Pro tip: A turkey carcass after Christmas is perfect for making bone broth!
Bone broth is traditionally meant to be drunk hot, like a cup of tea. After you make a batch at home, you’ll likely have several glass mason jars full of umami-filled goodness, so you’ll be able to heat up a mug anytime you like. It is also wonderful for adding flavor and richness to dishes, especially sauteed veggies or long-simmering stews.
What are the benefits of bone broth?
The most significant benefit to bone broth is its high nutrient density. Bone broth cooks slowly over a number of hours, releasing vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fats from the bones and other tissues. It can be a great source of protein, iron, vitamin A and K, zinc, and more.
Other nutrients found in bone broth, like glutamine, as well as collagen and gelatin, can be very soothing to the gut. It has been used for centuries as a way to reduce inflammation in the gut, and has recently been shown to help repair leaky gut, an irritation of the mucosal lining of the intestines.
For people in need of joint support, the high collagen and gelatin content of bone broth has been shown to be beneficial. As joint cartilage wears down as we age, consuming gelatin can protect against joint damage, and collagen can help improve joint pain and stiffness and be the building material for cartilage, hair, and nails .
How do you make bone broth?
Bone broth is very simple to make, but it does take a certain time commitment. It can be made in a basic large (16-20 qt.) stock pot, cooking on low on the stove top for 10-18 hours. If you just don’t have that kind of time, bone broth can also be made in a pressure cooker like an InstantPot in only a couple of hours.
Bone broth is essentially animal bones and tissues in water boiled so all of the soft tissue breaks down and the nutrients are pulled out of the bones. Most people add aromatic vegetables, seasonings, and herbs to the pot as well to give the broth more flavor. Consider adding onions, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme to spice things up. After the broth has cooked and cooled, store in glass containers either in the refrigerator if you plan to use it right away, or in the freezer to keep longer.
One word to the wise—make sure you can commit a full 10-18 hours to this process. You don’t want to leave a simmering pot unattended, so you may need to get started extra early!
Basic stovetop bone broth recipe
3-4 lbs of beef, pork, or other animal bones
1 gallon of water
1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
½ - 1 lb of chicken feet
1 fish head or bones
1 onion, chopped in large chunks
4-6 cloves of garlic
1-2 bay leaves
2-4 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
Roast the bones on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until lightly browned.
Lightly sauté your aromatic vegetables in a large stock pot.
Place toasted bones into the stockpot with vegetables.
Add fresh herbs to the pot.
Pour water and vinegar into the pot and stir everything together.
Allow to simmer on low for 10 - 18 hours.
Let the broth cool before transferring to smaller glass containers.
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About the Author
Joel is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who began his health journey when he decided to quit cigarettes for good. By finding the motivation to make lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, stress, and sleep, he feels healthier in his 40’s than in his 20’s, and wants to make sure he will be around for a long time. Once he saw results in himself, Joel wanted to use his passion for wellness to help other people. Joel has a private practice in Northern California where he helps clients achieve better energy, focus, and connection to their bodies through bio-individual diet and lifestyle changes. Learn more about Joel.
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