I like some trends and this is one of them … bone broth is coming back in a big way!
Bone broth doesn’t look very appetising while it’s cooking, and it takes a bit of time to prepare, but it packs a big punch, so I think it’s worth it!
Maybe you just need encouragement to make it again, or maybe you don’t know where to start. Chicken broth is probably the most versatile as it is mild enough to add to many recipes. Personally, I love the rich flavour of beef broth, adding depth and flavour to soups, stews and gravies. I keep both in my freezer and use them frequently and in many versatile ways. Why not start your broth journey now?
Nutritional Qualities of Bone Broth
1. The gelatinous qualities of bone broth come from the collagen in skin, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Just as gelatin is used to make glue, so too does it help to ‘glue’ together our connective tissue that connects our muscles to our bones, as well as the ligaments that connect our bones together. In addition, it helps our joints to stay cushioned and lubricated! It also increases the utilisation of protein in grains such as wheat, oats and barley. Beef bones that contain a lot of cartilage include knuckle bones and tailbones (oxtail). Cartilage from chickens include backs, wings and necks.
2. The consumption of bone marrow is also highly nutritious and plays an important role in brain growth and development. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are also produced in the bone marrow. In Russian, marrow is called ‘bone brains’. Bone marrow in broth comes from the purchase of long bones such as shank bones. If the bones are cut lengthwise, it allows you to access the marrow easily for consumption after they have been in the broth. Marrow is delicious on buttered toast!
3. Bone broth and animal meats consumed together have a synergistic effect. Broth improves overall protein digestion and assimilation of the animal meats. At the same time, the ‘essential’ amino acids supplied by the animal meats provide the building blocks for the body to produce additional amino acids from the bone broth itself. These additional amino acids are critical for “gut health, immune system support, blood-sugar balancing, muscle building, healthy bones and joints, plus smooth skin, as well as overall healing and rejuvenation” (p33 Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon). Not a bad list in my opinion!!
4. Bone broth also assists with the digestion of proteins from legumes. For example, cooking pea soup with a ham hock makes more nutrients available to the body than just pea soup on its own. To the Jewish communities, chicken soup has been called Jewish penicillin.
Bone broth was always a traditional staple in many cultures around the world. Its qualities abound and I encourage you to consider its introduction or return to your menu planning.
Healing Powers That Pack a Punch
In the fabulous book, ‘Nourishing Broth’, Sally Fallon details the qualities of bone broth for the healing of a wide range of conditions. In addition to its legendary qualities to assist recovery from colds and flu, and its role to help strengthen the aged, bone broth is also acknowledged in its healing role with many auto-immune conditions.
Digestive issues are a hot topic at the moment, with most of them baffling the doctors who offer pharmaceutical-style solutions. Broth’s high glutamine content, plus the presence of cartilage, gelatin and glysine, all contribute to healing digestive disorders. The GAPS diet relies on broth, although those who are extremely sensitive may need ‘short cooked’ broth until their bodies build up the ability to handle the richness of ‘long-cooked’ broth.
The list goes on. As much as 95% of the hormone serotonin is produced in the gut. Without a healthy gut, and lack of serotonin, depression and insomnia may occur. Less recognised is a discovery in 1972 of bone broth’s ability to reduce the rate of cell division in cancer cells. This quality is credited to the cartilage of bovine sub-species which includes cattle.
Bone Broth Recipes
There are so many sites that offer good bone broth recipes. For a written recipe, I have included a simple version here, amended from a recipe by Arabella Forge in her book ‘Frugavore’.
You may prefer this short demonstration video by Sarah Pope who is associated with the Weston A Price Foundation. https://www.westonaprice.org/stocks-and-soups-video-by-sarah-pope/
Dr Josh Axe also offers simple guidance on the making of bone broth with photos! https://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/
Cooking Times for Different Broths
The nutritional qualities of broth are enhanced by extended cooking times.
– Hard bones such as beef bones require cooking for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours (depending on your patience!) to draw out the range of amino acids which are the building blocks of protein.
– I recommend that soft bones such as chicken bones are best cooked for 4 to 6 hours. Longer may break down the gelatin and lose some of its qualities, although other nutrients will still remain.
Ten Tips on How to Use Bone Broth
There are so many ways to incorporate bone broth into your regular eating plan. It can take a little thinking about, so I’ll add a few tips here.
Tip #1: Whenever a casserole or soup recipe requests the addition of water or wine, then bone broth can be substituted for all or some of the liquid quantity.
Tip #2: Rice can be cooked in bone broth for additional flavour and nutritional value, especially using the absorption method.
Tip #3: Vegetables can be cooked in broth.
Tip #4: Add bone broth to gravies and sauces. This not only adds flavour but it also helps the meats to be digested more easily.
Tip #5: I add a small quantity of chicken broth to scrambled eggs and mashed potato.
Tip #6: Eggs can also be poached in chicken broth rather than water.
Tip #7: Stir fries can easily include a small quantity of broth incorporated at the end for flavour.
Tip #8: One lady I know in her 80’s drinks a cup full of beef broth each evening with a light meal, having eaten her main meal during the day.
Tip #9: A busy mother I know relies on chicken broth mid-morning to help with her energy levels each day. When she first started, she noticed that her body was craving the broth and she consumed larger quantities very quickly!
Tip #10: Broth can be used in all vegetable and meat preparations for babies.
Here is a recipe for Bone Broth Shepherd’s Pie. It uses beef broth in the base and chicken broth in the mashed sweet potatoes. Double bonus!!
Broth can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for many months.
To assist with storage space, broth can easily be reduced down to about 25% of its original quantity. I do this all the time as I do not have much freezer space. Once cooked and strained, I place the broth into a wide pan, such as a roasting pan, and allow it to reduce for about 45 minutes. (If you return it to the boiler, the smaller surface area will mean it takes much longer, but it will still work.) Once reduced, place the broth into rectangular glass storage dishes and freeze overnight. It can then be cut into cubes and stored for later use.
A recipe calling for 1 cup of broth will only need ¼ cup of the reduced broth with ¾ cup of water. This reduced broth also makes it more versatile to add to scrambled eggs and mashed potato with the benefit of the nutritional qualities and flavour, but without too much liquid!
Suggested Books and Reference Material
If you would like to extend your knowledge further on the healing powers of bone broth, as well as expanded recipe suggestions, add the book ‘Nourishing Broth’ to your recipe shelf. The FAQ page on their website is also helpful. http://nourishingbroth.com/faqs/.
For a wider understanding of healing qualities and preparation tips on other traditional foods, the Weston A Price Foundation is the most resource rich site. https://www.westonaprice.org/?s=bone+broth
Dr Josh Axe also offers a lot of easily accessible information on bone broth https://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/
An Australian author, Arabella Forge, has written several books, starting with ‘Frugavore’ in 2010. It is my version of her simple broth recipe that I have included here.
If you are wondering about a gift for a young family with a new born or toddler, Renee Kohley has prepared a beautiful recipe book titled “Nourished Beginnings Baby Food”. She leads you through from first foods to how to incorporate bone broth and good quality fats into meals and snacks for babies and toddlers.
The Weston A Price Foundation has also released a book titled ‘The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care’. It goes well beyond recipes and tips. It is an all-encompassing book, full of research and guidance on incorporating traditional food preparation and child rearing methods into our twenty-first century lives.
Wow, that’s a long post, but I think it’s worth it. I hope you do too. Enjoy your broth!!