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October 18, 2012

A nutritious food with a scary name—Bone broth!

Dinner Diva
A nutritious food with a scary name—Bone broth!

By: Leanne Ely

Halloween is coming and I don’t know about you, but for me, the phrase “bone broth” conjures up visions of witches stirring a brew! So I thought it timely that we talk about this amazing broth now, when many people start decorating for, and thinking about, Halloween.

While bone broth sounds a bit scary (sit down, kids, we’re having bone soup for supper!), it is absolutely delicious. It’s one of the most comforting, healing and nutritious things you can put on your table and it’s a staple in my house.

Bone broth is, simply, a stock made by simmering the bones of an animal (lamb, chicken, cow, pig) in water for several hours, or even days.

Bone broths have been used medicinally in China for many, many years, but it seems to be hitting mainstream in western culture now, too. Of course, our grandmothers have always known that simmering a bone made the best soups, didn’t they?!

Now, let’s take a closer look at this magical stock.

You’ll notice, once you’ve finished simmering your bones for hours and hours and hours, you can actually push your fingernail into what was once very very hard. That means all of those minerals that made the bones firm have been released into the liquid. This tells us that all of that calcium and phosphorous—the minerals that make up over 60% of bone mass—will be going into your body when you eat the broth.

What are the key benefits of bone broth?

Strong teeth and bones. All that good stuff from within the bones goes straight to your own bones and teeth, helping make them good and strong.

Greater gut health. Leaky gut syndrome is becoming an epidemic. Damage to the lining of the gut is caused by poor diet, chemicals and toxins. Bone broth contains massive amounts of glutamine that helps to heal your gut. The fats in bone broths help our absorption rates of minerals as well.

Bone marrow. Bone marrow is where white and red blood cells are manufactured. When you consume bone broth, you’re consuming bone marrow, which helps your body create healthy blood.

Joint health. Bone broth has proteins in it. Lots of proteins. One of those proteins is glucosamine, which lots of people go and buy in tablet form in the vitamin aisle to help ease joint pain. Drink up!

We haven’t even gotten to the part where you add the vegetables to the pot and reap the nutritional benefits from those, too!

How do you make bone broth?
Take a big pot and put some bones from organic meat you’ve roasted into it. Use organic bones because you are leeching everything out of them. You don’t want it to be chemical stew!

It’s a good idea to mix your bones to get the most nutrition and flavor. Knuckle bones and foot bones are excellent in bone broths.

The bones will make a better broth if you’ve roasted the animal beforehand. I’ve taken to freezing my leftover bones until I have enough (about half a pot full) to make a broth with.

So, you put your bones in a pot and whatever vegetables you want (I like onion, organic celery, carrots, garlic and herbs), and cover with water. Be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the pot to help leech the minerals and nutrients out of the bones.

Bring your broth to a boil and then let it simmer for at least 12 hours, but preferably for up to 72 hours. This process doesn’t have to take place continuously. You can cook the soup during the day and turn off the stove when you go to bed. Then, turn it back on the next day, and so on and so forth.

Strain the broth when you’ve cooked it as long as you’re going to.

If you’ve done it just right, the broth should gelatinize when you refrigerate it overnight. This gelatin is the key to what makes the broth so nutritious!

Reheat the broth and drink it plain if you want, use it in soups and sauces, turn it into chicken soup . . . I don’t care what you do with it, just make it and consume it!

Make friends with your butcher and establish a supply of high-quality bones.

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  • LetaBee

    Someone told me that the bone broth should not be boil.. that it loses nutrients or healing elements if the temperature is too high. Is there any truth to this?
    I have secret recipe for my bone broths. During the week I save up my clean vegetable peelings (store in a bag in the freezer), especially onion skins, carrot and celery off-cuts. Then put the bones, peelings and enough water to cover in a crock pot over night. In the morning, I strain out the vegetables and discard them. Then scoop out the marrow from the bones and add that to the broth. Very tasty.

    • savingdinner

      It should simmer, not be a rolling boil. Simmering brings out the nutrients.

  • Linda

    I too save cleaned veggie peelings, herb stems, pepper tops and membranes, woody ends of asparagus, etc in the freezer for my stock pot. You strain the broth so seeds are not an issue. When I want a darker broth I roast the bones first, then cook in stock pot. If you have extra carrots, juice them and use for part of your stock liquid. Wonderful flavor s that don’t need a lot of sodium for flavor

    • savingdinner

      Excellent! Thank you for your comment. Sounds delicious.