Bone Broth for Good Health
Almost every culture you can think of on planet Earth has a good soup in the local cuisine. And of all those soups, most of them start with throwing some leftover bones in a pot with water. Be it from meat, fish or fowl, a good homemade bone broth makes an excellent base for many nutritious, delicious and satisfying meals.
Homemade broths (stocks) have been the cornerstone of many different traditional diets for centuries. Chefs revere them for the depth of flavor they bring to dishes and health practitioners rely on them for their healing aspect. The cliché goes that every grandma knows nothing beats a good chicken soup for the common cold.Turns out, there is something to that after all.
The long, slow cooking of bones and vegetables in water brings out many important and vital nutrients locked away in the marrow and the bones themselves. Homemade broth is an excellent source of many important minerals, (calcium, magnesium, silicon and trace minerals), amino acids, and health promoting gelatin.
Sometimes called Jewish penicillin, healthy homemade broths and stocks are easy to make and definitely worthwhile. Here are a few reasons to save your leftover bones, buy a few extra chicken feet and start a stockpot simmering on your own stove.
1. Homemade broth is delicious!
Not only can you make warming, tasty soups, you can use your broth as the base for delicious sauces, dahls, and gravies. Making a simple bone broth is gourmet chef 101.
2. A rich source of a variety of nutrients
Homemade bone broth is the cornerstone of many modern health regimes focused on gut health as related to auto-immune, degenerative diseases, mental decline and heart health. When you cook bones in slightly acidic water (by the addition of vinegar) and slow cook it for hours, the minerals in the bones are extracted into the broth, creating a food rich in easy to absorb minerals. The higher the bone-to-water ratio, the more mineral rich it will be. If you want to build strong teeth, blood and bones, start with bone broth.
3. Practical & frugal
It’s easy to stretch a strict grocery budget when making broths and using them as the base for nutritious family meals. You can use the leftover bones from chicken, turkey, fish and beef dinners and you can even buy bones (cheap) straight from the butcher.
4. A good source of proline
Proline could help support our nervous system, and is being researched as a possible treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, meaning it could help protect the brain.
5. Helps with detoxification
Glycine is an amino acid found in animal foods. The human body requires copious amounts of glycine for detoxification after exposure to chemicals and heavy metals. Regular servings of high quality broth seems to help the liver function more efficiently.
5. Glycine in broth helps your digestion
Glycine may also help with digestion by enhancing gastric acid secretion. Some research shows that glycine and the gelatin in bone broth can help balance abnormal stomach acid levels, which is vital for proper digestion and gut health. Because so much of our health starts in the gut, healing leaky gut syndrome is vitally important.
7. Makes a body beautiful
Collagen is the protein found in the connective tissue of vertebrate animals. It’s abundant in bone marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. When bones are cooked low and slow for long periods of time the collagen is broken down and released in the form of gelatin. This natural gelatin helps build healthy connective tissue as well as strong hair, skin and nails.
8. Helps digest protein from meat and plant sources
The gelatin in bone broth has many benefits. Gelatin has been found to increase the digestion of protein from grains, beans, and meat. So, homemade bone broth could help you absorb and use more of the protein you eat.
9. Waste not, Want not
Ancient cultures learned to make use of as many parts of an animal used for food as possible. It is both frugal and in a certain way, honorable, to waste nothing that is available for nourishment when we take an animal to be used in this way.
Tips for a better bone broth:
For the best taste:
use roasted bones, preferably with some meat on them
add garlic and/or onion if you can - this will make the broth far more palatable though it will obviously impart some flavor that you may or may not want for your recipes
if adding any other vegetables, only add them for the last few hours of cooking at most as they may cause the broth to become bitter otherwise
For the best texture (if you want it to gel):
use joints or knuckle bones from larger animals; use chicken necks, backs, and feet
start your broth by filling your slow cooker with boiling or very hot water, then cook on high for the first hour, then reduce it to low for the remaining time
add 1-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the mixture to help break down the bones - using less for smaller bones like chicken and more for larger bones like beef
don't re-use bones if your goal is a gelatinous broth. typically the collagen content is greatly reduced in bones the first round of broth-making. So, while minerals can still be extracted, you won't get a highly gelatinous broth on a second or third round (with beef bones, for example, which can be cooked over and over until they're literally gone)
be sure you're storing your broth in a cold part of your refrigerator - often it hasn't gelled simply because it isn't cool enough for the gelatin to set
lastly, you can add some grass-fed gelatin to your broth if you want some extra gelatin