| Bone Broth, a Warm Bowl of Goodness and Healing
by Hélène Tremblay-Boyko
Since the first snows arrived last fall, I have found great comfort in a steaming bowl of homemade soup for my noontime meal. Of course, the base for any truly nourishing soup is a good old-fashioned bone broth. After boiling and simmering either a chicken carcass or beef bones, I strain and cool the stock and then refrigerate it, at least overnight. That allows the fat to rise and solidify on top. I can scrape that off for a low-fat broth and use it for cooking other meals. In the cold days of winter, one of my favourite soups is squash soup and nothing could be easier.
Making bone broth, for many, is a lost art. However, indigenous peoples the world over have made bone broth through the centuries, in alignment with their principle of using the whole animal and wasting nothing. In fact, all world cultures have handed down traditional recipes for bone broth for hundreds of years, until the industrialization of our food systems. This staple food would have found its way into our grandmothers’ and great grandmothers’ kitchens.
Fortunately, there seems to be a rebirth of interest in this incredibly nutritious and healing food. The good news is it is also easy to make! Bone broth or stock is simply boiling bones, feet, organs, cartilage, ligaments, and marrow, and simmering for 24 to 48 hours. Slow cookers are the perfect kitchen utensil for these recipes.
Moreover, you might be hard pressed to find a healthier, more nutritious food. Packed with minerals and beneficial amino acids, bone broth has also been found to assist in the healing of myriad illnesses. A slow simmer releases, over time, such nutrients as collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, gelatin, proline, glycine, and glutamine, along with a long list of minerals. According to the researchers at the Weston A. Price Foundation1, many difficult to obtain minerals, including magnesium and calcium which are available in bone broth, are readily absorbed by your digestive system when consumed in this way.
You will probably relate to the healing properties of chicken soup when you are down with a cold or flu. In fact, a study2 published in the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians found that it does indeed aid in alleviating symptoms of the common cold by clearing mucus, opening respiratory pathways, and providing easily digested nutrition. The dense concentration of amino acids, minerals, and other nutrients actually improves your immune system.
Research3 has also shown that the gelatin in bone broth plays an important anti-inflammatory function in the lining of your gut. Gelatin heals the gut by repairing the intestinal lining and reducing inflammation caused by gut-related disease and food sensitivities. In this day and age, our bodies are under constant toxic attack by our heavily industrialized food system. From the overuse of antibiotics, to pesticides sprayed to grow our food, and chemicals used in processed foods, our digestive system is overburdened. Fortunately, your food can be your medicine.
Besides the obvious benefits of building healthy bones and teeth, bone broth is also rich in collagen and chondroitin, nutrients which are the building blocks of cartilage and essential for joint health. When you introduce these substances in your diet, you can even heal your joints. Collagen is also a protein your body uses in keeping your skin healthy. In addition, bone broth contains significant amounts of glycine, which assists in liver detoxification and can reduce the severity of heart attacks.
It is important here to recognize that if you want your bone broth to be a healing beverage, you will need to know where those bones have come from, so you are not adding to the toxic load. Your best choices are organic and pastured animals. If you do not have access to certified organic meat, you might develop a relationship with your farmer and discover his or her production practices. You will want to ensure that antibiotics are reserved exclusively for sick animals, and, ideally, that these animals are sold into a different market stream. They should be fed non-GMO and pesticide-free feed. You will also want pastured animals that have lived in conditions which allow them to express their natural behaviours. Pastured ruminants such as bison, cattle, sheep, and goats should never consume grain as their digestive systems are designed for grass and hay only. Look for 100% grass-fed in ruminants.
The nutritional and healing value of bison, beef, lamb, and chevron depends on what they were given to eat in their lifetime. Research4 spanning three decades suggests that grass-based diets can significantly improve the fatty acid composition and antioxidant content of beef. Meat from grass-fed beef cattle offers more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain-fed animals. Maintaining an optimum balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is important in controlling our body’s inflammation response.
Meat from 100% grass-fed beef is leaner, contains fewer calories, and packs more flavour. It is higher in vitamin E and beta-carotene. In addition, when cattle are raised exclusively on grass, their meat and dairy products offer two to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than animals raised on large amounts of grain. CLA shows promise in helping us fight cancer and cardiovascular disease. When you add up the score card between grass-fed and grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef wins hands down.
Once you have established the origins of the bones you want to use for making stock, you are ready to go. Place your bones in a slow cooker. Some recommend that the bones be roasted rather than raw. If you are using the remains of a roasted chicken (breasts and thighs removed for a meal), it can go directly into the cooking vessel and covered with water. I like to add a couple of chicken feet, then season with some sea salt, pepper corns, whole cloves or allspice, and bay leaf. You may add vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onion, but if you want to extract the maximum nutrition from the bones, you will need to add a couple of tablespoons of some form of acid. You can choose apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, or my favourite, opal basil infused vinegar.
Bring it all to a boil and simmer for 24 to 48 hours. Cool, strain, and pour into glass containers. Refrigerate until you are ready to use the stock in your favourite soup, stew, gravy, or sauce.
In an article5 from www.naturalife.org, Cameron Hooper suggests that saving the chicken or beef bones from every meal instead of buying the bones can be more economical. For example, after roasting a whole chicken, he removes the meat from the carcass, then saves and freezes the bones until he has enough to make a broth. He further recommends that if you are doing a bone broth fast for issues like leaky gut, you should not add any vegetables or parsley. It will not be as flavourful, but these vegetables have sugars which can defeat the purpose of a bone broth fast.
Following are two recipes for bone broth, one simple three-ingredient broth which has a more neutral flavour, and one more complex-flavoured bone broth recipe.
Simple Bone Broth6
by Jon Johnson and reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
1 gal water
1 oz vinegar
3–4 lbs bones and tissues
Boil the ingredients together in a large pot or slow cooker, then reduce to a simmer for 10–24 hours before letting it cool. Strain through a cheesecloth and pour into smaller containers for storage. This will give you a more neutral, almost flavourless broth.
You may choose to add salt, vegetables, and spices such as sage or thyme to give the broth more flavour.
After making a big batch of broth, store it in smaller containers in the freezer. Heat these smaller containers as needed, and the broth will last longer.
from the Weston A. Price Foundation7
1 whole free-range chicken, or 2–3 pounds of bony chicken parts,
such as necks, backs, breastbones, and wings
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2–4 chicken feet (optional)
4 qts cold filtered water
2 tbsp vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
If you have not already, roast the bones/chicken. If it is just bones, roast them at 450°F for 15–20 minutes.
If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings, and remove the neck, fat glands, and the gizzard. Cut neck and wings into several pieces.
Place chicken into large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar, and all vegetables besides the parsley.
Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Bring to a boil and remove any “scum” that rises to the top.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 6–24 hours. Add parsley 10 minutes before removing it from the heat.
If using whole chicken, remove the chicken meat and use it for other things like sandwiches or chicken salad.
Strain the stock to remove any particulates and place in the fridge. Once it cools, skim off the fat (save this for cooking). Your stock is now ready to be consumed or used for tasty dishes!
6–8 cups of bone broth (add water if needed to cover squash)
8–10 cups of winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, or buttercup) cut into chunks
1 can of coconut cream or heavy dairy cream
Seasonings: if your broth is not salted, add sea salt to taste, and any combination of cinnamon, mace, turmeric, ginger, allspice, or cloves.
Peel, seed, and cut squash into chunks.
Place in soup pot, cover with broth and added water if needed.
Bring broth and squash to a boil, cover and simmer until the squash is tender.
Blend with handheld blender or in batches in countertop blender.
Blend in coconut cream or dairy cream and seasonings.
6–8 cups of chicken bone broth with bits of chicken removed from bones after cooking
Up to 1 cup of pot barley or rice—preferably wild rice (uncooked)
Selection of vegetables of choice: peas, carrots, celery, onion are my favourites, but I also keep broccoli and cauliflower stems to add to soup.
Seasoning: if your broth is not salted, add sea salt to taste, and any combination of herbs such as sage, marjoram, chervil, parsley, savoury, basil, or oregano.
1 cup tomato paste, or 2 cups stewed tomatoes (optional)
Clean, peel, and chop vegetables into spoon size pieces.
Place in soup pot along with bone broth, meat bits, and barley.
Add tomato paste or stewed tomatoes if desired.
Bring to boil, cover and simmer until barley/rice is cooked and vegetables are tender.
Season and serve.
Hay, Louise and Dane, Heather,
The Secret of Bone Broth
Robinson, Jo, Pasture Perfect
Hélène Tremblay-Boyko is a local farmer and gardener, passionate about food issues. She and her husband, Al Boyko, operate a certified organic, mixed farm and market on-line as BreadRoot Farm on The Farmers’ Table platform. They raise grass-fed, certified organic beef cattle, as well as a variety of certified organic cereals and oil seed crops near Canora, SK. Call (306) 563-5341. See the display ad on page 9 of the 26.3 January/February issue of the WHOLifE Journal.