Making it is easy and cheap, albeit not very attractive. When describing the final stages of cooking says, Sally Fallon says, “You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good.” Nice, but regardless . . .
I buy the bones from farmer’s markets for $2 a bag. But if you’re not near a farmer’s market, your butcher will sell some to you (or give them to you!). I make a batch and freeze it for soups and stews in 8- and 16-ounce containers to drink as a soup, or to use for braising veggies (instead of using oil). You basically use it as you would stock, but it’s richer, more gelatinous, and more nutritious. Here’s a bit of a cheat sheet (if Sally hasn’t scared you off)!
bone broth: the deal
Bone broth is like normal stock but made with big, cheap bones (hopefully organic!) simmered for a very long time (24-plus hours). At the end of cooking, a stack of minerals have leached from the bones and into the broth so the bones crumble when pressed lightly.
why would you? because it is soooo good for you!
1. Our immune systems love it. It’s rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other trace minerals, which are easily absorbable, thus assisting the immune system. Mark’s Daily Apple has a great article breaking down all the nutrients found in bone broth.
2. It’s great for arthritis and joint pain. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin – which help mitigate the deleterious effects of arthritis and joint pain. Rather than shelling out big bucks for glucosamine-chondroitin and mineral supplements, just make bone broth and other nutritive foods a part of your regular diet.
3. It’s a digestive aid. It helps break down grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, and meats and is hydrophilic in nature, which means that it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Bone broths have been used successfully in treating gastrointestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis, Crohn’s disease, and infant diarrhea.
4. It rebuilds the gut. Chris Kresser says the gelatin in bone broth helps in repairing the integrity of the gut: “Homemade bone broth soups are effective in restoring a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach. Bone broth is rich in collagen and gelatin, which have been shown to benefit people with ulcers. It’s also high in proline, a nonessential amino acid that is an important precursor for the formation of collagen.”
5. It combats stress plus inflammation, which is a boon for AI sufferers. Glycine is an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, and promotes natural sleep and has a “quieting,” protective antistress action.
6. It’s great for thyroid issues. Eating muscle meat with a rich source of gelatin counters the negative effects of methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan, leading to a more efficient metabolism (healthy thyroid).
7. It’s great for nails, hair, and women generally. Rich in both gelatin and collagen, it promotes bone and joint healing in addition to supporting digestion. It helps to support the connective tissue in your body and also helps the fingernails and hair to grow well and strong.
8. And it’s super cheap. I just made about 3.5 quarts of the stuff and then I got excited and added up how much it cost me. Ready? $3.90. By using the bones from leftover roast chickens matched with vegetable scraps you’ve saved, you can whittle that paltry sum down even lower.
beef bone broth recipe - Taken mostly from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.
• about 4.5-6.5 pounds of bones (beef marrow, knuckle bones, meaty rib, neck bones – whatever the butcher will give you)
about 3-4 quarts of cold water
• ½ cup vinegar
• 2 or 3 onions, coarsely chopped
• 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
• 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
• several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
• 1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed or a teaspoon black peppercorns
Place the bonier bones (without much meat) in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350°F degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns. Simmer 12-72 hours.
You will now have a pot of brown liquid containing gelatinous and fatty material. Strain the lot (you’ll need to use tongs or your hands to pull out the bones) into a large bowl. Let cool in the fridge and then . . . operation remove fat layer. This is a little gross, but somehow satisfying. The congealed fat on top is usually a good ½ or more inches thick and you can literally pick it up in chunks (like ice on a frozen pond) and toss it out. Last but not least, divide into containers and freeze/eat.
some things to know
• You brown the meatier of the bones in the oven first to 400°F for 45-90 minutes. Lamb and beef bones give better broth if roasted in the oven first.
• Acid is necessary in order to extract the minerals from the bone. Add some vinegar to aid in leaching these minerals – in particular calcium and other nutrients – from the bones.
• The water should be cold, because slow heating helps bring out flavors.
• Stock will keep several days in the fridge . . . I mostly freeze it though.
• Boiled down, the stock concentrates and becomes a jellylike fumée or demi-glaze that can be reconstituted into a sauce by adding water.
~ Sarah Wilson is the author of the recently released best-seller I Quit Sugar. A journalist, TV host, and blogger, Sarah is the former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and was the host of the first series of MasterChef Australia, the highest-rated show in Australian TV history. She’s also a qualified Health Coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York. Visit www.sarahwilson.com.au and www.iquitsugar.com.