There’s much to be said on the topic of brothing. This entry could possibly send you deep into the abyss of the bone broth obsession. Make a choice right now: Skip to the easy breezy recipe and commit 10 minutes to making some health liquid gold, or read on and delve into a thorough journey on why bone broth could save your life – or at least, make it that much better.
I’ve been making bone broth for the past three years. I first learned about it from a mom in my RIE class before Asher was two. He was having many lingering chest colds and we ended up twice in the ER for two severe reactive airway disease episodes. I was desperate to find some natural health remedies rather than the recommended steroids for his condition. She said to try adding bone broth to Asher’s daily diet touting its ability to strengthen the immune system. I LOVE soup and broth, and it seemed an easy thing to add to our diet for added immunity and beneficial minerals for Asher’s growing bones.
The more I made it, the more I loved it. Ah, the smell of a big vat of flavorful broth sweating out intense aromas of garlic and onions – the smell of homey happiness and soothing calm. For me, a good cup of steaming bone broth in the morning can really set the tone for a peaceful day – okay, let’s get real – a peaceful five minutes to savor the warm brew, if I’m lucky. More importantly, the more I made it, the more resilient Asher seemed to be. He did still have a couple more episodes of reactive airway disease but it was mild and no more hospital visits and thankfully no more steroids. The other key solution to Asher remaining asthmatic-free was a few sessions with an osteopath but that’s another blog entry – back to brothing!
Not only did Asher’s health improve, so did mine. As it turned out, bone broth is a terrific pre-pregnancy primer and staple of fertility diets. Here’s a plug for a fantastic online nutrition course that’s extremely informative for anyone and everyone whether trying to conceive or not: Beautiful Babies. I personally can attest that consuming bone broth several times per week along with other diet additions (like lima beans, clams, fermented cod liver oil) raised my B12, B6, D3, iron and magnesium levels which were all low during my pregnancy and after I delivered Asher. I altered my diet and a year later all my levels had risen to above normal and my HDL to LDL ratios were excellent and remained so during my pregnancy with Russell. Little Russ had the benefit of having bone broth in utero and I credit his healthier (than Asher’s) infancy and toddler years to our family’s diet modifications.
Bone broth has so many health benefits no matter your age. I could go on and on, but I must stop or I won’t have any time to make my own batch for the week. Instead, I’ll give you a few bullet points, try to answer the most common questions and provide some links where you can read all the nitty gritty details about why to broth.
What’s so healthy about bone broth?
- Rich in amino acids that reduce inflammation in the respiratory system and improve digestion
- Rich in easily absorbable minerals: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals for bone health
- Rich in easy-to-assimilate glucosamine chondroitin for joint support
- Rich in gelatin that helps to heal the gut, prevent digestive issues and reduce cellulite
- Rich in minerals that assist the body in remineralizing tooth enamel
- Rich in electrolytes to prevent dehydration especially when sick
What’s the difference between bone broth and stock or regular broth?
The best explanation I found is that chicken stock can technically be made in a couple hours – the amount of time it takes to fully boil some chicken pieces. Bone broth is designed to cook until all the valuable minerals, amino acids, glucosamine chondroitin and gelatin is fully released from the bones and bone marrow inside the bones (about 24 hours). The bones from bone broth are so soft they crumble when done cooking. Stock is healthy but bone broth is healthier.
Is bone broth hard to make?
As long as you start out with my simple recipe and don’t over think it, making bone broth is super easy to do. I remember the first few times I tried to make bone broth, I felt a bit intimidated about using chicken feet – how many would I use? I also didn’t understand if it was better to use bones or a whole chicken. Do I have to skim the scum off the top after the first hour? How do I do I achieve a solid gel and if I don’t, is the broth still healthy? How many tablespoons of apple cider vinegar do I use per pound of bones (good rule of thumb: 1T per LB)? Do I have to use filtered water? Do I have to buy a pasture-raised chicken? My main answer to all these questions is, ultimately, none truly matter except for using an organic pasture-raised bird. Drinking and cooking with an almost perfect broth is better than no broth at all so my recommendation is to start simple. Try my recipe. It takes virtually no time to prepare or monitor, which makes getting into the habit easy. Once you’ve got that down, come back to this post and explore the links above on how to make a more technically perfect bone broth. You may just find though, as I did, my kids prefer this quick and easy recipe more.
Where can I buy organic pasture raised chicken?
Living in Santa Monica and the Los Angeles area, finding pasture-raised meat directly from the farmer is fairly easy at the multitude of farmer’s markets and is the most cost effective method. Another, more expensive but helpful and high quality source in Hollywood was the Lindy & Grundy butcher shop that just recently closed (but may reopen?). Two newer high-end butcher shops in Santa Monica are A Cut Above (some organic but most not pasture-raised) and Belcampo (more pastured options). No matter where you live, you likely have a local co-op, a Whole Foods market nearby and hopefully local farmer or hunter options to buy directly. It does take some effort to make a commitment to buy organic grass-fed meats but it is arguably more important to spend your money on organic meat than organic vegetables since a higher concentration of toxins can be stored in the fat of meat. Buying in bulk and freezing your meat can save money and time too.
Does bone broth taste good?
So you’ve got that brothing is healthy, doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated, but you’re wondering about taste? I do feel fortunate my kids both love it, and to my surprise, Asher even asks for it when he isn’t feeling well. And while myself and the kids enjoy our morning broth sipping ritual, my husband? Not so much. He enjoys the soups I make from it but he can’t wrap his head around drinking broth instead of coffee at 7am. I figure if three out of four family members enjoy a meal it’s a win and maybe finicky kids count more than finicky husbands? If you and yours aren’t broth sippers, you can still get the health benefits by using the broth in so many everyday meals. Sauté veggies, make your rice with bone broth rather than water, and of course, use your broth for all your soups and stews.
After making many many versions of this broth. I have found the perfect ratio of salt and sweet and spice for drinking and for cooking. For myself I also enjoy spicing it up a bit with different versions that include ginger, fresh thyme, celery or spicy peppers – but alas, my kids only currently like this simple version. I keep several cups of it on hand for drinking and other cooking needs. The chicken from the broth is also seasoned nicely and keeps well in the fridge for making cold deli-style sandwiches without the unhealthy deli-style additives. You can also use the chicken in soups or have perfect shredded chicken for a quick and easy taco station on the ready.
I find making a two batch version using the whole bird suits my needs best rather than a longer two step process of roasting the chicken and then using the bones for broth. You can use this recipe and make a perpetual bone broth that can sit on your counter all week for sipping and cooking and such, but I always end up forgetting to turn back on my Huntington Beach crock pot after 12 hours at some point and wind up with a tub of broth I have to toss. Do they make a lead-free crockpot that doesn’t automatically shut off? Help here, please? Instead, I make one batch for 24 hours, strain out the broth, reserve half for the week, freeze the other half and use the remaining gelatinous mess for a second batch I let cook another 24-48 hours – so 2 days of on/off switch monitoring. The second batch isn’t as rich as the first but is ideal for freezing as stock. I love to freeze this in 1 cup portions to use for cooking or use your ice cube tray for 1 to 2 tablespoon portions. It really is quite a lot of broth for a family of three since my husband doesn’t partake except to say, “Oh, no. You’re making carcass again?” To his credit, he did just forward to me The New York Time’s article Bones, Broth, Bliss which details bone broth’s benefits and growing popularity. I think it was his subtle nod of acceptance. Who knows, maybe I’ll convert him to morning sipping someday soon…