What is so special about Bone Broths?
You have probably heard people talking lately about bone broths and wondered just what all the fuss is about? Bone broths are a great way to get nutritious minerals into you, easily, efficiently and deliciously. They are high in Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, trace minerals, as well as being a fabulous source of amino acids such as GAGs (glycosaminoglycans), glucosamine, chondroitin, proline, glycine & hyaluronic acid.
These amino acids play a vital role in reducing inflammation and supporting the health of your ligaments & joints by helping to form the collagen that is used to build cartilage, support skin, connective tissue & wound repair. Some of these amino acids are fabulous to naturally calm a stressed or over excited nervous system, especially when coupled with the magnesium and calcium from the broth. These amino acids are even involved in the production of hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying component of your red blood cells). The glycine in bone broths helps to normalise HCL (hydrochloric acid) release which aids digestion and the collagen can support healthy growth of the lining of your gut, repair any damage and even support healthy gum growth. Glycine being a precursor to glutathione, is pivotal in supporting liver detoxification pathways.
Amino acids require fat soluble vitamins A & D for best absorption. Thankfully bone broths if cooked with some of the animal’s fat, will contain these.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine terms bone broths are a fabulous way to nourish and support your Spleen and Kidney Qi, helps to build blood, nourish and support your ligaments and tendons. They are often recommended when a person is recovering from illness or are in a state of fatigue, and where there is debility. They are also prescribed for people with poor digestive ability who need to have easily consumed foods to enable better absorption of nutrients.
What is the difference between a Stock, a Broth and a Bone Broth?
A stock is made with bones coupled with a small amount of meat on the bones and is usually only cooked for around 2-3 hours.
A broth is kind of the reverse… it is made with meat and only a small amount of bone and is usually cooked for around 45 minutes to 2 hours.
A bone broth contains both meat and bones, the bones are usually pre roasted to help extract maximum minerals & nutrients and is often cooked for 12-24 hours. It is with this longer cooking that the gelatin is broken down into glycine & proline.
So now that I know ALL I need to know about my bone broth, how do I go about making it?
Ideally you want to ensure that you obtain the best quality bones & ingredients possible. The better the quality the ingredients, the better the nourishment in your broth and you minimise nasty chemicals that can collect in the bones of high density farmed animals. Ideally you will want to find some grass fed beef/lamb or pork bones and even better still if they can be organic. Good sources of these are at your local farmers markets & organic suppliers. Chicken bones are best sourced from free range or organic sources as much as possible. With fish broth you ideally would chose fish that come from Australian or New Zealand waters, or any other pristine waters that you know will be low in toxic chemicals or waste product from industry.
1 whole free range chicken
4 litres of filtered water
2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 onion, roughly chopped (omit if you are Fructose Intolerant)
2 carrots, roughly chopped
4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic (omit if Fructose Intolerant)
Bay leaves, parsley, sage to flavor the stock
(OR – star anise, cinnamon, whole Szechuan pepper, knob of ginger & fennel seeds if you’d like a more Asian inspired broth)
*If you have had a roast chicken for dinner, you can keep the bones & use in your stock as they are already pre-roasted. You will then need to add some chicken meat later in the cooking stage to give more depth to your broth.
Ideally, take the meat off the chicken frame so you can dry roast the bones in a moderate oven (around 180-190C) for around half an hour. This gives a darker & richer flavour to your broth but will not be detrimental if you are short on time. Be aware that the meat, vegetables, herb & spices will cook more quickly that the bones, so if you are doing a longer cook add the meat, vegetables & herbs/spices in the last hour or so to maintain their flavours & not turn them into an unpalatable mush. If you haven’t taken the meat off your chicken, you can cook it whole until the meat is cooked then remove the meat & put the bones back into the pot to cook for longer. Reserve the meat to add back in later on, or to use in another dish.
Put the bones, water and apple cider vinegar into a large crock pot, ideally one with a heavy base. Place the pot on the stove on a low heat, no more than a slow simmer. Keep the pot covered with a lid & check on it from time to time to ensure there is ample water covering all the bones. You will notice a foam or scum rising to the surface from time to time. You can skim this off & discard if you prefer a “clearer & cleaner tasting” broth. 4-6 hours is a decent time for a good chicken bone broth, if taken as long as 12 to 24 hours, there will not be much left in the way of bones. When the bones become soft & floppy it is a good sign of well cooked bones. In the last couple of hours you can put in your meat if not already cooked, chopped carrot, celery, onions & garlic, as well as your spices & herbs. Once your broth is completely cooked, strain off the liquid & cool it as quickly as possible to avoid any bacterial growth. Store in airtight containers for up to a week, or you can freeze in smaller lots for several weeks.
Never salt your broth whilst it is cooking. Once it is complete you can add flavourings like salt & lighter herbs such as coriander, or leave it plain to use as a base for other cooking (soups, stews, etc)
Generally your broth will become gelatinous upon cooling. This is a sign of a good broth! Though, do be aware, that longer cooking, such as 24-48 hour broths will have broken down this gelatin into the amino acids proline & glycine so will not gel.
2 kg beef bones (marrow, knuckle, meat bones – ideally grass fed)
3 liters filtered water
2 tbl spn Apple Cider Vinegar
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2-3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together
3-6 sprigs parsley, tied together
1 bay leaf
Ideally dry roast the marrow & meat bones in an oven at around 180C for about 30 minutes (if you want to skip this part, your stock will just be a little sour). Once browned drain off the fat. Place bones into a heavy based pot with the water, bring to a boil, skim off any scum or foam, reduce to a simmer then add the apple cider vinegar, bay leaf and peppercorns into the pot. Cook on a low simmer for 8-14 hours, even longer if you care up to around 24hrs, just make sure the bones are kept covered with water. Add the vegetables and softer herbs (thyme & parsley) into the pot about half way through your cooking time. Once you have simmered for as long a cook as you care for, carefully drain off the liquid & cool it as quickly as possible to avoid any bacterial growth. Store in airtight containers for up to a week, or you can freeze in smaller lots for several weeks. You can enjoy the broth as is, or use it as a base for other dishes such as soups, stews, & casseroles. I like to use mine as the base for a healthy miso soup to start my day.
Enjoy experimenting with many different flavours of herbs & spices & different vegetables to add into your bone broths.