About bone broth
In Chinese medicine, the digestion is likened to a pot of simmering soup. Raw ingredients go in, and a new, refined product comes out. In our body, the raw material is food and the refined product is Qi, the vital energy of the body that makes everything work.
It is no wonder then that we often look to soup as part of the healing process. Soup is seen as being as close to “already digested” as possible, which translates into the presence of an abundance of readily-available nutrients that the body has to do little work to harness.
The great-grand-daddy of all soups is bone broth. Bone broth is made my taking everything you have left over after eating meat (the bones) and further processing it to access the minerals and other nutrients in the bones themselves. Without the extra step, all of that goodness would be lost to the waste pile. It can be made with the bones of fish, shellfish, poultry or other animals – anything you would eat that has been raised organically, humanely, and was raised on pasture or in the wild.
Bone broth is incredibly easy to make, and has myriad health benefits. Bone broth is rich in minerals, gelatin, and healthy fats. Bone broth heals the digestive system, makes your hair and nails lustrous and strong, and lubricates your joints.
Bone broth is rich in many minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and silica. These minerals are credited with healthy and strong teeth and bones when bone broth is included regularly in the diet.
The presence of the joint connective tissues means the soup will also be rich in gelatin. Gelatin is a complete protein. It soothes the digestive tract, makes the hair and nails strong, and softens stiff joints. The amino acid Glycine, present in gelatin, has been shown to strengthen the stomach and gelatin, as a whole protein, has been shown to heal peptic ulcers.
Bone broth, thanks to the use of these joint connective tissues, will also be rich in glucosamine and chondroitin. So, bone broth is also beneficial to people with arthritis or other joint problems. Runners and people doing high-impact sports will benefit from bone broth to keep their joints supple and cushioned with these additional nutrients.
How-to make bone broth
The short story: Bones from pastured or wild, organically-raised animals are simmered in filtered water with a quarter cup of raw cider vinegar for 12-24 hours. Bones need to be broken or cracked to expose the marrow and inner structures. During the last hour of cooking, add an entire bunch of organic parsley for flavor and increased mineral content.
The long story: I was taught to make bones soup with nothing but what I mentioned in the section above (“The short story”). That will make you a tasty soup stock with all of the health benefits you’ve come to expect. Since most experts encourage a cup of bone broth every day, I started to play around with my recipe so the bone broth was even more delicious as a stand alone food. I could grab a mug of it first thing in the morning to start my day, and it would taste good without any additions. Here’s what I learned from my explorations and some tips from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Start with what chefs like to call aromatics. My favorites are carrots, parsnips, onions or shallots and leeks. Cut everything down to the same size. Make sure you wash the root vegetables thoroughly because you won’t be peeling them. Also, pay attention to your leeks during washing to avoid getting sand in your soup.
Cook these vegetables in high quality, extra virgin olive oil or pastured butter/ghee on a low flame with a pinch of salt to sweat them. The flame should be low enough so that you don’t hear any frying noises. This low and slow cooking will develop the naturally occurring sugars and impart richness on the soup. Cook 20-30 minutes until the onions/shallots are caramelized and some of the moisture from the sweating has evaporated before adding the bones and water.
Wash all of the bones under cold filtered water. My butcher sends me the bones already sawed into pieces. If they are whole, you should clean off your hammer or saw and crack them open. This exposes the marrow and internal structures to the cooking liquid. If you skip this step, you will have drastically less mineral content in your soup.
You can use beef, pork, chicken, duck and fish bones. You can also use the shells of shellfish along with regular fish bones. If you’re collecting bones as you go cook meat for your meals, rather than buying bones alone, just keep the bones/shells in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Put the bones in a roasting pan, and broil until lightly browned. This will also improve the flavor of your soup. After you’ve removed the bones from the pan, take some filtered water to deglaze the pan. Add the deglazing liquid into your soup. This will liberate any roasted, brown yumminess from the pan so it can join the soup.
Add the bones and deglazing liquid to the aromatics. Fill the soup pot with filtered water and add 1/4 cup of unfiltered, raw cider vinegar. This acidulates the water, and helps to draw out the minerals from the bones. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. After that initial momentary boil, you should not boil the soup again.
Cook the soup for 12-24 hours. I make enough for a week at a time, and keep the stock in the fridge. This soup freezes really well, so feel free to make extra and freeze what you won’t need in that first week after making it. Don’t be surprised if your bone broth solidifies in the fridge. I’ve never had this not happen. It’s a good sign! It means you got all of the valuable gelatin out of the joints.
As I mentioned before, I aim to have a mug of stock a day. I recommend having at least 3 servings per week. You will definitely notice a difference if you do this consistently. Look to your nails and skin first to see a change.
Please note, the quality of the bones you use is of the utmost importance. Poor quality, factory-farmed animals will produce bones of poor quality that are also full of chemicals and toxic substances. It’s better to not eat bone broth than to eat broth made from these bones.
For more about Dylan’s favorite topics, like acupuncture, herbal medicine, healthy living, New York City and parenthood, follow:
Dylan Stein on Google+
On Twitter @Citypuncture
Or on Facebook on the Dylan Stein Acupuncture Page