Nutritional properties of bone broth and how it can add nutrients to our diets have been topic of a lot of recent discussion — and for good reasons.
It may be we are hearing more about them now because of the resurgence of home cooking and looking for ways to eat whole foods.
This is nothing new to our grandparents and ancestors, who used bones in cooking soups and stews as a staple at their table. They tried to make use of every scrap of animal they had, not only for its valuable nutrition but also to save the cost of procuring food for their table.
Bone broth is created from the boiling of animal bones (beef, poultry, fish and pork) for extended periods of time, such as 24-48 hours, to fully extract protein, vitamins and minerals from the bones as they disintegrate.
Bone broth is different than what we know as ‘stock’ because it has been boiled longer. A typical stock is only boiled a few hours and doesn’t extract the nutrition from the bones as cooking for extended times will.
Tips for Creating Your Own Bone Broth
Many people are creating their own and the basic recipe is similar for most cooks. What may vary are the sources of the bones and even the sources of the water.
- You can use a slow cooker to boil the bones for convenience or add to a large stock pot on the stove.
- Most people recommend roasting the bones before adding to the water to begin the process. This can add a deeper flavor to the broth and is especially recommended for beef bones.
- There may be remnants of the meat on the bones prior to cooking.
- The bones will generally be soft and crumbly after boiling for this long and the liquid should be strained before using to get a clear broth.
- It is also recommended that you use at least some bones with joints in order to get the most collagen in your final product.
- A good rule of thumb is 3-4 pounds of chicken bones or 7 pounds of beef to a gallon of water. The exact amount of water is not vital but keep your bones covered and simmering until finished.
- You should add some acid source, such as apple cider vinegar, to help leach the minerals from the bones as they cook.
- You can mix different bones in one pot but the flavor will not be the same as using one kind.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
There have been many claims that drinking bone broth every day will help you lose cellulite, give you clear skin, shiny hair and strong nails, soothe your gut, boost your immunity, as well as improve your joint health. Extracted collagen seems to be getting the most attention, but there is no scientific basis for these claims at this time.
Because this broth is rich in protein and nutrients, however, it could help you feel better because it may be giving you what you are missing in your diet.
There is also a benefit of drinking a warm comfort food on a cold day to your mental outlook.
Caution should be taken to note it is not a miracle cure and eating a wide variety of healthy foods, along with adequate physical activity, is still paramount to good health. There is also some concern about the sodium content if your broth contains sodium in excess.
When you make your own broth, you can control the ingredients but buying it from other sources could lead to high sodium content broths.
Flavor Enhancements for Your Bone Broth
There are many ways to use bone broths, including as a basis for soups or stews but also to cook vegetables, prepare sauces and gravies, or to just drink from a cup.
When making your own bone broth there are many flavor sources you can add that don’t involve sodium. Here are a few suggestions:
- Bay leaves
- Fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary, parsley
- MIrepoix (celery, carrots, onions)
- Chili peppers
Getting in the kitchen more often yields many benefits, not just for us but for those we cook for every day. It allows us to control the nutritional quality of our diets and maintain our health goals no matter what they are.
Learning new skills and experimenting with recipes is fun for many of us. Getting back to basics and recreating our traditional family meals can bring us pleasure that we are giving back to our families.
Preparing our own meals also helps us stay on our budget, as ingredients for recipes, especially when in season, can be lower cost per person than pre-made meals. Making bone broth using leftover bones from your chicken or turkey carcass or ham bone definitely extends your budget when you use that broth as a basis for many more meals.
Home cooking including making bone broths can add many health benefits to your life and can safely be included into your meal routines.
Will it change your life and cure what ills you? Probably not — but it’s a good step in that direction!