Updated: Feb 3
Bone broth has been used in almost every culture in one way or another for thousands of years, not only for the health benefits but as a way to consume the entire animal and minimise waste and maximise the nutrition they gained from their food.
When all of the bones, joints, marrow and other bits are cooked in water for anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days, the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, collagen, gelatin, and also the flavour is released in to the liquid and it can then be used as both food and medicine.
Just a few of the benefits
The gelatin in bone broth helps to improve gut function, soothe and heal damage that has been done to the gut lining and help to reduce symptoms of impaired digestion. The nutrients in the broth are very easy to absorb but not only that, when the gut lining is healthy and not inflamed, it's more able to properly absorb the nutrients contained in other foods as well.
Bone broth contains compounds that can help to improve immune function, not only because of the nutrients it contains but because it helps to support the gut and reduce chronic inflammation which are integral for a strong immune system.
It contains lots of the nutrients that support the connective tissues of the body like the joints but also the skin, hair and nails. Whenever I see skin problems in patients, I’m always looking at the gut to see if there are issues or healing that need to be done. When there’s problems with the skin, it’s likely that there’s also work that needs to be done with the gut in some way.
It contains nutrients and compounds that support sleep, liver function, healthy metabolism and so many other things and as always when you use food and medicine, the complex combinations of nutrients and their benefits from a holistic point of view are almost immeasurable. The power of nature to combine nutrients in such a way that we gain the most benefit, just can’t be replicated in a lab with individual nutrients or combinations of just a few nutrients.
So you can see there’s lots of amazing reasons to include bone broths in your diet regularly and while you can get lots of good quality brands from your local health food store, it’s so easy and economical to make at home.
Here’s my favourite way to make bone broth using 100% leftover ingredients which I save up over a week or 2 so I don’t need to buy anything extra.
Ingredients and Method
You can use beef or lamb bones and even fish but my personal favourite, just because I prefer the flavour, is chicken.
I roast an organic chicken each week and use most of the meat for meals and then keep all the bones, including any bits of meat that are left on the bones. Once I have to 2-3 roasted chicken carcasses is usually when I make my broth. You can keep the first one in the freezer until you have a second one and of course you can buy chicken frames from a butcher or frozen from lots of health food stores too, but I prefer to reduce waste and save money by using the leftover roast chicken bones. The roasted chicken bones also produce a different flavoured broth which I like but it depends on your preference.
Then I keep a large container in the freezer with a lid and when I'm prepping food, I throw all of the scraps that I want to include in my broth into that container and freeze them until I’m ready to make a broth. Ends of carrots and onions, parsley stalks and other bits and pieces of fresh herbs, broccoli stalks that I’m not using for pesto or stir fry, and anything else you like.
When its time to make a broth, I use a huge pot and add the chicken carcasses, the frozen veggie scraps, I like to use a couple of lemongrass stalks and kaffir lime leaves because I love the flavour, a handful of squashed garlic cloves and some ginger if I have it, and any other sad looking veggies I might have in the fridge (tomato, kale, celery etc). Finally I add a decent amount of pepper and a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help draw the nutrients from the bones.
Cover the whole thing with water until it's at least an inch above the meat bones and veggie scraps. You want to make a nice big batch but if you add too much water you'll also water down the final flavour. Bring it all to the boil on the stove, then turn it down and simmer for at least 3 hours but up to 12 hours if you have the time.
Once it’s done, season with some Himalayan salt or sea salt and allow it to cool before straining and transferring the broth to the fridge or freezer in portions.
A really good broth will turn gelatinous (or jelly like) in the fridge and will liquify again once it’s heated. Always try to heat your broth slowly on a stove top where possible rather than in the microwave to retain the most nutrients.
If you find that you aren't getting that jelly like consistency from using the roasted chicken carcasses, perhaps because of the size of the chickens or how long it was simmered for example, you can also add a few raw organic chicken wings or chicken feet to the mix and that should be all you need. Please still use the broth if it doesn't turn gelatinous when cold, its still super nutritious and just add a few wings to the next one.
Ways to use your broth
I rarely just drink a cup of broth on it’s own unless I’m unwell then I’ll try to have it a few times a day, but I use it every single day in cooking. I cook things like rice and quinoa in bone broth instead of water, I add it to curries and slow cooked meals, soups, poach eggs in it then add some spinach and other veggies and have it all as a quick meal, heat a cup and add some miso paste, herbs and cooked noodles and shredded chicken as a quick noodle soup. There are so many different ways to include it into your diet and for the kids its easy to add to meals to get the benefits and they won’t even know they’re having it.