Traditional Homemade Bone Broth Packs a Nutrient-Dense Punch — Which is Missing from Our Modern Food System
If you have not ever made traditional organic bone broth, you need to. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense and healthy foods you can consume.
In fact, today bone broth is making a comeback—especially among organic foodies, who understand the value of eating the most nutritious food. That is very good news, because bone broth is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Broth made from animal bones has been consumed as a source of nourishment for humankind throughout the ages. However, it has fallen out of favor in most Western households today, probably due to the increased pace of life that has reduced home cooking in general. But bone broth is so highly nutritious and curative that it should no longer be discounted in our modern times with our busy ways and jaded attitudes.
If you are unfamiliar with bone broth and need an introduction to understand its many benefits, this article will give you the highlights, including the top nutritional benefits and how to make it.
Today’s Food Industry Experts Extol Bone Broth
In the documentary, Edible City: Grow the Revolution, about finding better solutions to our nation’s broken food system, Jessica Prentice, Chef and Co-owner of Three Stone Hearth, a community-supported kitchen in Oakland, California, makes the following statement:
“We are very committed to supporting local farms and providing the kind of nutrient-dense food for families that they can’t get anywhere else based on traditional diets. One of the things that we do a lot of in the kitchen is we make bone broths. Bone broths are throughout the world known to be incredibly nourishing. They’re incredibly rich in minerals that your body really needs. Calcium particularly. The term is nutrient dense, and they are. Every calorie is packed with nutrients. That’s the idea of nutrient density. So if you eat a lot of broth, you need less meat. Your body needs less protein. And so this is a way that traditional cultures throughout the world nourished themselves economically and ecologically. The idea was not the boneless skinless chicken breast or the meat patty. Use the whole animal. Use the organ meats. Use the fat. Use the bones. You make broth. Making food this way, processing food this way, is really a lost art in our society. But at Three Stone Hearth we’re trying to rediscover those arts.”
Jessica is not the only one extolling the virtues of this nearly lost traditional food. Many others are speaking out these days on the benefits of bone broth. For example, in a blog post titled Top 5 Reasons Why Bone Broth is the Bomb on Underground Wellness, Sean Croxton said the following:
“Never in my life did I imagine I’d be so head over heels about a soup made from bones. It makes me feel warm inside, and puts a little pep in my step. And oh my, is it tasty! But my fondness for bone broth goes well beyond its taste and warmth. There’s a reason why it’s called the magic elixir — and it’s a darn shame that more people aren’t drinking it. There was a time, not long ago, when bone broth was a part of just about every meal we consumed in this country, as it provided the base for soups, gravies, and stews. Unfortunately, with the disappearance of the local butcher as well as the invention of brain-cell-killing MSG — which gave processed foods an artificial meaty flavor — preparing broth became a lost art. These days, very few of us even know what it is, or why we should be consuming it.”
Why I Started Making and Consuming Bone Broth
I lived my whole life until recently without hearing about the benefits of homemade bone broth—until my acupuncturist, Naae Kim, told me that I should be eating (or drinking) it daily.
At first, I wasn’t too happy about the idea of it.
That’s probably because the modern concept of beef or chicken broth is one of two things: a can of some overly salty substance that has almost no flavor, or a dark dank cube of some type of mysterious brown stuff called “bouillon.”
I wasn’t anxious to start consuming either one.
But, on Naae’s strong recommendation, I started making organic bone broth as she instructed, using a “low and slow” cooking method (see instructions below).
Because I wasn’t used to it, at first, I had to doctor the beef broth with other ingredients to make it palatable. I created a “pho” type dish (Vietnamese soup) by adding the following to my daily bowl of bone broth: bok choy, hunks of cooked beef, and rice noodles.
That was the only way I could down the liquid for a few months. Then something happened after I made my fifth pot of organic bone broth.
I started to appreciate what I was creating out of only bones and water. I was literally creating one of the most health-giving food substances on the planet.
I began to delight in eating my bone broth straight—without any adulteration, except for a bit of meat from the bones.
And I started reaping the rewards of this nutrient dense elixir in several important ways—like healing my gut, reducing my inflammation, and boosting the growth of my hair and nails.
The Many Nutritional Benefits of Bone Broth
The reason that bone broth is so nutrient-dense is due to the “low and slow” cooking method, which extracts several vital nutrients from the bones including:
- Calcium. This is the most abundant mineral in our bodies, and it’s necessary for the normal functioning of nerve conduction and muscle contraction, like the regulation of the heartbeat. It has a long list of other purposes, as well, such as facilitating neurotransmitter release and hormone action.
- Phosphorus. This is the body’s source of energy.
- Magnesium. This is present in enzymes that generate and stabilize our bodily processes. It’s also involved in over 300 enzyme reactions and acts as a cofactor for vitamins B1and B6.
- Minerals. Minerals have three major functions in the body. They provide a structural base for connective tissue like bone; create electrical potentials allowing for conduction of nerve signals and movement across cell membranes; and act as catalysts for enzymes in transforming food into energy.
- Hyaluronic acid. Important in digestion, as well as lubricating our joints and helping in wound healing.
- Glycine. This is the simplest amino acid, and it contributes to the manufacture of the other eight amino acids, as well as many other vital chemical processes.
- Proline. It’s found in most of the body’s proteins, and helps form the structure of collagen in our bones, skin, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
- Chondroitin sulfate. This functions to support and provide adhesiveness in our joints, as well as lowering atherosclerosis, cholesterol, and heart attacks.
- Glycosaminoglycans. Contributes to several important compounds forming our cartilage.
With so much to gain from bone broth, isn’t it time we reclaim this traditional source of sustenance? Our ancestors understood its importance to our nutritional health. Shouldn’t we?
For one thing, because it’s a broth, its rich concentration of nutrients is easy for our bodies to absorb. As a result, bone broth makes a distinctively good medicine that makes us healthier in many important ways.
Also, homemade broth has a flavor like no other. It’s delicious as a base for a wide range of soups, stews, and gravies—or just all by itself. Like me, you may soon find yourself craving your daily bowlful.
Plus, cooking our own homemade bone broth fills our home with an aroma of indefinable goodness. That in itself is medicine for our mind and soul.
“Low and Slow” — A Simple Way to Make Bone Broth
I’ve read several recipes that make the process of making bone broth seem complicated. But it couldn’t be easier. Here are the steps I follow for beef bone broth.
- Purchase beef bones from a local organic rancher (I get them at my local farmer’s market), making sure that at least one of the bones has marrow. I like at least one bone to have some meat on it, so I can scrape it off at the end of the cooking process and add it to my broth.
- Put the bones in a large pot, and cover them with filtered water.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
- Turn the heat on high until the water starts boiling.
- Then turn the heat down to the lowest temperature possible to allow the bones to cook very slowly. The water should be bubbling only very slightly.
- Cover with a lid and let the bones cook for as few as six hours to as long as 48 hours. I recommend at least 12 hours. You’ll know you’ve hit the right amount of time, when the broth jells up after it cools.
- I put the cooled broth into individual jars that hold about two cups each (leaving one inch of air space at the top for expansion during freezing). I add a little of the meat from the bone to each jar. Then I freeze them, so I can easily pull out one jar at a time to consume.
You can also make chicken bone broth using bones from free-range chickens. Just cook one chicken, remove the meat and skin from the bones, put the bones back in the broth, add two tablespoons of vinegar, put heat on the lowest temperature possible, and cook low and slow for four to six hours.
Recently, I started purchasing chicken feet at my local farmers market after hearing that they are filled with collagen. So I add about six of them as well.
Chicken bone broth can be used as the base in just about any soup. Usually, I use it as a base for my delicious and uber-nutritious chicken and veggie soup.
Recently I used it to make a butternut squash soup — and it was sublime.
I hope you see the benefits and added homemade bone broth to your daily menu.