I’ve been drinking broth a lot these days. We think of broth as simply a base for soups, don’t we? As something to build upon, a base from which to create something more interesting and flavourful.
But homemade stock/broth on its own is incredibly nourishing and healing, especially one that includes the bones and marrow of happy, pastured animals. Let me tell you why bone broth is something you should start making and drinking – and of course, how to do it (it’s so easy peasy).
Bone broth is simply loaded with nutrients – minerals, vitamins, amino acids – all in a highly bioavailable form. What does that mean? It means that the body doesn’t have to work hard to assimilate these nutrients; we can very easily receive all the goodness that homemade broths have to offer because there’s not much standing in the way of absorption.
- Digestion – Bone broth is an absolute rockstar when it comes to healing the gut. It’s a traditional digestive healing remedy, having a soothing effect on inflammation in the intestines as well as providing the building blocks to repair damage. The gelatin actually improves overall digestion by normalizing stomach acid levels, promoting the release of digestive juices, and having a protective effect on the lining of the digestive tract.
- Immune System – At least 70% of the immune system is found along the lining of the digestive tract. So as we heal and strengthen our digestion, we naturally strengthen our immune system too! Convenient, right? Another reason to sip on homemade broths when you’re sick. They’re extremely nourishing yet very gentle on the system.
- Bones & Teeth – The bones of healthy animals contain the same minerals found in our own bones, and in the same proportions. Those concerned about bone health should know that bone broth contains bioavailable calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, and potassium.
- Joints, Cartilage, & Skin – Bone broth contains gelatin, glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen – booyah! It’s a bit of a mouthful to list off all those nutrients, but trust me, this is the ultimate combination for the health of your joints and skin.
- First, you need to find bones – preferably tubular shaped with marrow inside and a little meat on the outside. You can sometimes find bones at butcher shops. I’d stick with butchers that source ethically raised and chemical-free animals. In Toronto, I like Rowe Farms or The Healthy Butcher or Sanagan’s Meat Locker. You can also buy meat shares from local farms; just do a little research and see what CSA-style farms are local to you.
- Next, you can make your broth! This is really not much different than making any other soup stock, which I’m sure most of you have done. Super simple.
- You may roast your bones first if you like – this supposedly brings out more flavour. It’s totally optional, though, and I always skip this step.
- Fill your pot or slow cooker at least half full of bones – I usually use 2 or 3 pounds worth of bones. There’s no exact measurement to follow here, but the more bones you use, the richer and more nutrient dense your broth will be.
- (Optional) Add large, roughly chopped carrots, celery, and onions. I often throw in garlic cloves and bay leaves too.
- Add black peppercorns and quite a bit of salt. Always salt! Just be sure to use unprocessed forms like grey chunky sea salt, or pink Himalayan salt.
- Add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar. This helps to pull the minerals out of the bone.
- Finally, fill the pot with water. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer.
- The simmering times vary widely, and everyone will tell you something different. Many people simmer for 24 hours or longer, and truthfully, the longer you simmer the more nutritious your broth will be. However, for people with intestinal issues, or those on a gut healing diet (GAPS style), it is important to minimize simmering time due to the production of glutamates.
- For bone and meat broths, I simmer for at least 3 hours on the stove. For chicken carcasses, at least 2 hours. For fish stocks, 1 hour. If you have a slow cooker, it’s easier to do a much longer simmering time.
- If foam develops on top while simmering, gently skim it off and discard. The bones of chemical-free animals will produce less of that stuff than the bones of conventional animals.
- Once it’s ready, strain into glass jars while still warm. Pull off any meat still on the bones, and save that to add to soups later. Once cooled, keep in the fridge for one week, or it can be stored in the freezer for longer. Do not disturb the layer of fat that will form on top; this actually protects the broth from spoilage. Be sure to include that fat when you’re reheating the broth, as it’s very healing!
Once you get on the bone broth bandwagon, I tell ya, you won’t look back. As long as you’ve used enough bones, enough salt, and you’ve simmered long enough, it’ll be the tastiest, savouriest (I think I made that word up) warm drink you’ve had in a while, maybe ever. Plus, your soups will rock like never before.
At first it was a little strange for me to be drinking something so oily and fatty. This is comfort food, but also healing food. How wonderful. Drink a mug of it in the morning, between meals, on the go (see my picture), or late at night when you need a little something before bed.
Questions? Are you ready to give this a go?! Do share your thoughts below.
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