What is bone broth?
By now, I’m sure just about everyone has heard of bone broth. It is more popular these days than Prada sunglasses, well maybe not, but you get the idea. It has gained so much attention because of the increasing prevalence of digestive complaints Americans are having today. This means more and more people are searching the internet for answers to their problems, and bone broth just happens to be one of them. Bone broth is similar to a meat stock that you would make for Thanksgiving for example. However, it is more focused around using bones rather than meat. With a bone broth, the goal is to extract minerals and other nutrients contained within the bone. This requires a slow simmering process that is much longer than you would need with a traditional stock. It also requires the addition of some sort of acid to help pull the nutrients out of the bones, which is often in the form of apple cider vinegar.
What are the health benefits of bone broth?
1. Decreases bone and joint pain
Bone broth is a rich source of collagen, which is the body’s most important building block. Collagen is a key structural protein that ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of all of our connective tissues including skin, cartilage and bones. Aging, poor diet, and excessive physical activity can all lead to a decreased level of collagen in the body. When you simmer the bones in your bone broth for a long time, the collagen is pulled out of the bones making it available for absorption in your body when you drink it. This helps to replete some of the lost collagen and allows your joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones to grow stronger.
2. Improves hair, skin, and nails
Collagen is also part of the building blocks for hair, skin, and nails. So ingesting collagen can help your hair grow longer and stronger, improve the tone and appearance of your skin, and reduce the appearance of cellulite. Who wouldn’t love all of those benefits? I have been drinking bone broth and using collagen in my morning smoothies for over a year now. I have noticed that my hair is falling out less, and that my skin doesn’t appear as dry.
3. Heals Leaky Gut
For an in depth understanding of leaky gut, read my article about it. Bone broth is full of an amino acid called glutamine. Glutamine is the fuel for enterocytes, the cells that line your digestive tract. When these cells have plenty of fuel, they can more efficiently repair any damage, and defend themselves against oxidative stress. This is important, because leaky gut occurs when the enterocytes get damaged and can no longer do their job. One of their important jobs is to maintain a tight gap between each cell that only allows very specific things to get into our system. When this function fails, many other pathogens and food by products get through the junctions that aren’t suppose to. This results in lots of inflammation and our immune system going haywire. If you happen to suffer from leaky gut syndrome, which many of us do, then you know what I am talking about.
4. Strengthens the immune system
As a result of healing the gut, your immune system is also improved. Did you know that 80% of the immune system is found in the gut? So you can probably imagine how much happier our whole body is once the gut is strong and happy. When you are no longer suffering from leaky gut, you will find that you don’t get sick as often, and you no longer react to certain foods the way that you used to. In addition to the glutamine, bone broth is also loaded with many other minerals and vitamins. All of them play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Where to buy bone broth?
Unfortunately, with all of the increased popularity of bone broth comes increased prices. This means that most of the bone broth found at the store, or your local farmers market can be a big financial commitment, especially if you are trying to ingest therapeutic amounts of it. So part of the reason I want to make sure everyone knows how to make their own bone broth, is to make sure that cost isn’t the one thing getting in the way of you healing. That being said, it still isn’t cheap to find high quality bones these days. I remember when I first started making bone broth and I could find really inexpensive chicken feet and bones. For most butcher shops, these were the parts that would often get thrown away, so why not make a few extra bucks by selling them? However, I can no longer find a farm or butcher shop that has not caught onto the bone broth craze, and is now looking to profit from it as well. If your lucky, you might live somewhere with lots of local farms, and have the opportunity to strike up some sort of deal. Below I have listed some of the locations that I have used to source organic bones or pre-made bone broth.
Organic Bones Online:
Pre-made Bone Broth Sources:
The importance of organic
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you buy organic bone broth. In actuality, I’m really talking about beyond organic, because the animals should be free roaming, fed an organic feed that is true to their natural diet, and humanely raised. There is no exception to this rule. The main reason for consuming bone broth is for its many health benefits, and if you don’t buy organic, this basically gets thrown out the window. The old saying, “we are what we eat” is something you should always consider before you consume food. I am a huge proponent of how horrible the standard agricultural industry is. Just ask my husband, and he will tell you that I have made him suffer through hours of me ranting and raving over the anger and heartache I feel surrounding this subject. Not only am I a huge animal lover, I am also a naturopathic doctor. As a result, there is nothing about non-organic food that I agree with today. Ok, I have emphasized my passion in this area enough, if you want to know more about the agricultural industry you can read my blog about it. Basically, only organic food will contain the nutrients that you are looking for, and be void of the antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, and chemicals that you’re not looking for.
1. Use Quality Water
For information on choosing the right water to use with your bone broth, read my blog about drinking water. Similarly to the importance of organic bones, you also want to make sure that the water you are making it with is high quality.
2. Choose The Right Bones
Your final result should be almost like a gelatin when it is cold. This means you have successfully extracted all of the collagen and gelatin during the cooking process. In order to accomplish this you want to make sure that you select bones with lots of cartilage. This means knuckle bones if you are using pork, beef, lamb, etc. If you are using chicken (my personal favorite) then use necks, backs, and feet. You should always include chicken feet with every batch of bone broth, even if the base is not going to be chicken. Chicken feet are loaded with cartilage and will make the end product much thicker and richer. I know that working with chicken feet can be a little strange, but I promise you it makes a big difference. Every time I make bone broth my husband always makes a comment about me getting into witchcraft or something.
3. Add Organic Herbs
Add in lots of organic herbs. When I first started making bone broth, every recipe I found just mentioned the standard carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. These items are awesome, and always go into my bone broth, but I am a flavor snob, so I wanted more. I will add basically everything that my local store has at the time. This could include; thyme, rosemary, ginger, sage, parsley, oregano, marjoram, tarragon, etc. Experiment with things yourself, and see what you like.
4. Use Quality Salt
Only use real sea salt rather than table salt. Sea salt is naturally occurring, and contains a wide variety of important minerals. Celtic Sea Salt and Real Salt are two brands that I highly recommend. Himalayan Pink Salt is another option as well.
5. Use An Acid
Always use apple cider vinegar when making bone broth. The acid in the vinegar is crucial for being able to pull the minerals out of the bones. Without it, you will end up with a bland broth that doesn’t gel. My suggestion is to place your bones in a large stock pot, and pour the 2 – 3 Tbs of apple cider vinegar over the bones in the pot and let them sit without heat for about an hour before you add the water and the other ingredients. When your broth is done, you should have chicken bones that are very brittle and break really easily, or large bones with lots of holes in them. My favorite apple cider vinegar is Bragg’s.
6. Pre-Roast Bones
Roasting your bones in the oven prior to cooking can add some extra flavor to the broth. I have done it both ways, and when I roast the bones, the broth is much richer in the end. To do this, just place the bones on a baking sheet with natural parchment paper and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 mins for chicken and 1 hour for large bones like pork and beef.
7. Don’t Use Too Much Water
Don’t add too much water. If you add too much water, then your broth won’t gel. If it doesn’t gel, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t nutritious, it just means you have to drink a lot more of it for the same effect. In general I would say use about a gallon of water with 4 – 5 lbs of bones. After your bones are done soaking with the vinegar, the water should be the first thing you put in before you add veggies and herbs. This way you can see that the water just barely covers the bones. Any more than that, and you have put in too much.
- 4 – 5 lbs of beyond organic bones (see above)
- 1 gallon of high quality water (see above)
- 2 – 3 organic carrots
- 3 – 4 organic celery stalks
- 1 organic onion or leek
- 3 – 5 organic garlic cloves
- 2 – 3 Tbs of organic apple cider vinegar
- 2 – 3 Tbs of sea salt, or more or less to your taste preferences
- 2 Tbs of whole peppercorns
Optional Organic Herbs:
- Bay leaves
Instructions: Place roasted or raw bones in stock pot and poor apple cider vinegar over them. Let sit covered without heat for 1 hour. Add water, and make sure that it does not exceed the level of the bones. Then add coarsely chopped vegetables, sea salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a very slow simmer. For chicken bones, allow it to simmer for 24 hrs, for larger bones like beef and pork, allow it to simmer for up to 48 hrs. I usually add all of the herbs in during the last couple of hours of simmering. You can make a large pot and freeze most of it until you plan to use it. Drink the final product by itself, or use it to flavor many of your other recipes. Drinking 3 – 4 cups of it per day would be recommended when you are trying to heal your gut. Less than that is fine for general health maintenance.
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