Bone Broth

Baby, it’s cold outside!

photoAnd, this little munchkin has kept me seriously busy over the past 20 months!  She is currently obsessed with “The Snowman” and it is a scene in the video, as well as a plethora of press coverage, that inspired this post about…BONE BROTH!

Bone broth is the way everyone made the liquid part of soup before you could buy it pre-made in a can, in a box, or pressed into little cubes.  It is the practice of taking the bones from whatever cut of meat you have eaten, and boiling them over a long period of time to create a liquid flavorful enough to be the base for a soup – stretching one meal into many.

Now, it may seem a whole lot more convenient to buy boneless cuts of meat for cooking and boxes of broth to be kept in your cupboard for months on end for when you feel like making soup, but there is a depth of flavor and wealth of nutrition to be had when meat is left on the bone!

Anyone with any kind of culinary experience will tell you that cooking meat on the bone imparts a wealth of flavor into whatever meat you happen to be cooking.  In addition, the price of meat on the bone is also significantly less.  So, why do so many of us continue to buy boneless meat?

Well, when we throw the bones away after our meal is done, it kind of feels like we are throwing our money away, too.  But, with a little time and a little effort, those bones, once destined for the garbage, can become one of the most nutritionally dense foods at your disposal.

How Bone Broth Is Made

The quality of the bones you use to make your broth is in direct correlation to the health benefits you will receive.  Take the time to seek out organic free range chickens and grass fed beef when using bones for broth.  But don’t feel beef and chicken are the limit.  You can make bone broth out of bones from any animal – try lamb, or if you know a hunter, venison.  Try combining bones from different animals to create unique flavors.

So how do you know you’ve gotten good quality bones?  The healthier the animal whose bones you are using for broth, the less frothy scum you’ll have to remove as your broth simmers.  Take notes on which bones give you the cleanest boil and buy them often.

So how easy is making bone broth?

It’s this easy…

  1. Toss the bones from your roasted meat dinner, and whatever meat is left on them, into a big pot.
  2. Cut up a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, and an onion and toss into the pot along with a clove or two of garlic and a bay leaf.
  3. Pour in cold water until all ingredients are covered.
  4. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. (We will address why this is an important step!)
  5. Turn on medium low heat, and gently simmer until the bones begin to break apart.
  6. Remember, the longer it cooks, the better it tastes!  To finish your broth add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Why Is Bone Broth So Nutritious?

Hey, chicken soup made with REAL bone broth isn’t called Jewish penicillin for nothing!  There is a real reason why everyone recommends soup when you are sick.

  1. Bone broth is a dense source of bioavailable minerals – meaning they are available in forms that your body can easily absorb and utilize.  These minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.  The presence of vinegar helps make this possible.
  2. Bone broth is rich in glycine and proline, essential amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat.  Both are important for a healthy gut and digestion, muscle repair and growth, a balanced nervous system, and strong immune system.
  3. Bone broth contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine.  You know, the stuff sold as supplements to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
  4. Bone broth made from bones which include joints and marrow (think whole chicken, “leg of…”) is an abundant source of gelatin. It’s what makes the broth look like jello when it comes out of the fridge.  The gelatin, which comes from the break down of connective tissue, can help to heal a leaky gut, a specific benefit those with inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, reduce joint pain and inflammation, prevent bone loss, and build healthy skin, hair, and nails.

Getting the Ingredients

Healthy meat is a lot easier to find than it used to be!  Trader Joe’s regularly carries organic free range whole chickens – perfect for that first batch of soup.  For grass-fed beef and lamb, I love Wheel View Farm.  They are a local, family owned farm who knows their stuff and will ship their meat almost anywhere.  It’s a great place to visit, too, if you’ve got the time!

Well, people, it’s going to snow tomorrow, and nothing feels better than a hot cup of soup in your hands while you watch the snow fall.  So, get out there, get yourself some bones, and get boiling!

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