From gut-healing to help with IBS, to anti-ageing and alleviating osteoarthritis, bone broth is a magical brew loaded with essential minerals, amino acids, protein, collagen, fats, and gelatine – making it one of nature’s ultimate superfoods.
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An ancient tradition is being rediscovered as a secret weapon for better health and faster recovery. Locked away inside a humble bone or joint is a wealth of essential nutrients and minerals, anti-inflammatory gut-healing properties, and good fats. All in a form the body can easily absorb. The key is in the long cooking and in using bones from grass-fed, organic, and free-range or wild animals.
Bone broth is a perfect option as a light meal as the weather gets cooler
The best broth will be left simmering for 24 to 72 hours in order to extract maximum goodness from inside the bones. The long simmer allows the marrow to be cooked down and the minerals to be released. It’s worth the effort though. This powerful beverage has been shown to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve your digestion, adrenals, bones, and teeth
- Promote healthy joints, tendons, ligaments
- Improve the function of your immune system
- Reduce wrinkles, banish cellulite, and improve skin quality – the collagen literally keeps you youthful
In centuries gone by, people kept a pot of broth constantly simmering over the fire or stove. It was continually added to and eaten from throughout the day as an easy snack or meal. As well as being great for health, it was also respectful of the planet and of animals as it uses the whole of the animal.
Slow-cooking bone broth is an ancient remedy that's highly nutritious
Sadly, modern life has lost this dietary healing habit but now bone broth is enjoying a renaissance. According to Therapeutic Chef Neha Jamani of The Sacred Kitchen, the main benefits of regularly consuming broth are as follows:
Minerals and amino acids
Bone broth is extremely high minerals and amino acids. Bones from land animals are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Fish and seafood broth are rich stores of iodine. This helps protect a sluggish thyroid, which is a major cause of weight gain, thinning hair and loss of energy.
The mineral content from the bones is drawn out into the water. Smaller bones such as chicken and fish can entirely dissolve in the broth. Some of the star amino acids in bone broth include glutamine, glycine, proline and alanine.
Bone broth helps heal the digestive track and helps prevent the inflammation that leads to ageing and auto-immune conditions. It is a rich source of glycine, which stimulates the production of stomach acid to aid digestion. Glycine is also an important component of bile acid, which is necessary for the digestion of fat in the small intestine and also helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Glutamine is another amino acid found in both broths. A natural remedy for leaky gut syndrome, which is believed to be the root of many common autoimmune disorders, glutamine helps maintain the function of the intestinal wall and helps the villi of the small intestine to heal and grow, which is also important for people suffering from malabsorption.
Broth helps strengthen our skeletal system. The collagen in broth supports our bones, tendons, ligaments, and other flexible tissues. Another benefit of bone broth comes from glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a family of carbohydrates in bones and connective tissues that show positive effects on reducing joint pain and treating osteoarthritis. Broth gives our bones strength and our joints cushioning and resilience.
Collagen is the glue that holds the body together. It supports the skin and internal organs. Collagen also helps our skin retain its youthful firmness and elasticity, and protects it against ageing and wrinkling. In nature, collagen is found in the skin, bones and joints of the animal. Cooking the bones breaks down the collagen to make it more easily digestible. This is called gelatine.
Collagen production in the body slows down with age and ill health. Drinking bone broth is a good way to supplement the body with a natural form of collagen.
A healthy broth can help your skin maintain a youthful firmness and elasticity
How to make your own bone broth
Inspired to make your own bone broth? Good on you! This recipe can be used as a base for homemade soups, stews or sauces; you can sauté fresh vegetables, meat or fish with it, or just enjoy a warm cup as it is as your daily dose of health. Here’s how!
Prep time: 15 minutes
1.5kg to 2kg bones
Water to cover bones and vegetables in a pot
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ cups chopped carrots
1½ cups chopped leeks or celery or fennel
3 bay leaves
3-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic
1 T black peppercorns
Cook up a delicious and healthy bone broth tonight with this great recipe
1. Get your bones
First, use bones from free-range and grass-fed animals only. What kind of bones? Pretty much anything. From cattle there are short ribs or oxtails, knuckle or neck bones. Or use a ham bone, a lamb shank, leftover turkey bones, a chicken carcass, or a fish skeleton with the head and eyes. Bones from wild animals are the best as they’ve eaten a diet that’s appropriate for their digestive systems (as opposed to the unfortunate cows who are forced to eat corn). Mix different types of bone if you want. For example, put a pork bone, chicken carcass or fish skeleton in the same pot.
As far as quantity, just use whatever you can easily put into a pot and cover with water along with a few vegetables such as carrots, onion, leeks, or celery. As a guide though, about 1.5kg to 2kg should do it.
2. Roast your bones
This is optional but it can make the broth much tastier, especially if you’re using the bigger beef bones. Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees Celsius (390 Fahrenheit) and roast the bones on an oven tray for about 30 to 40 minutes. Turn over about halfway. Alternatively, use the carcass leftover from a chicken you roasted for dinner or a whole fish you baked, poached or roasted.
3. Soak in Apple Cider Vinegar
Once the bones are roasted, place them in a large pot and cover with water. Add two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and leave to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The ACV helps draw the nutrients from the bones.
4. Add vegetables and flavouring
Roughly chop the vegetables and add to the pot along with any herbs and spices you want to add. For example, you could add sea salt, bay leaves, rosemary and garlic or nothing at all. Bring the water to a rolling boil and then lower to a simmer.
5. Simmer and skim
For the first couple of hours, skim any foamy layer that develops on the top and discard. The better quality the bones, the less foam there will be.
6. Simmer some more
As a guide, if you’re using large bones, simmer for 48 hours. For chicken bone broth, simmer for 24 hours and for fish broth, simmer for eight hours. There are no rules though, use your senses to tell when it’s ‘done’. Keeping the simmer for 24 hours can be tricky if you want to leave the house and are concerned about fire risk. An option is to use a purpose-built slow cooker or to put the pot in the oven on a very low heat.
7. Cool and strain
When the cooking is finished, let the mixture cool slightly then use a sieve to strain it. Discard all the bones and vegetables. All you want is the liquid. Transfer the broth to an airtight container and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. This will cause the fat to rise to the top and solidify.
8. Discard excess fat
This is optional because this fat is good for you but if you think there’s too much, scrape excess fat off the top. You can discard this or use it in some other way, for example, cooking roast potatoes or feeding birds in winter. With the excess fat removed, you’ll be left with a gelatinous bone broth. If it’s not gelatinous, you probably didn’t simmer the bones for long enough. Never mind, next time. It’s a learning process. You can still drink this broth.
9. Store or drink
Store your broth in one or more airtight glass jars or freeze until ready to use. When ready to use, warm the broth over a low heat to bring it back to a liquid. Drink as it is or use as a base for soup, stews, sauces. Another idea is to add sea vegetables and some miso.
Want to make your broth even better for your health? To kick it up a notch, add a teaspoon of turmeric to your warm bowl of broth along with a pinch of two of sea salt and a tablespoon of grass-fed, organic unsalted butter.
Have you discovered the health benefits of bone broth? Join the conversation below.