First, let’s answer a commonly asked question: Is there a difference between broth and stock? According to theKitchen.com, broth is just seasoned stock. For our purposes, we can consider them one in the same, as both start from scraps of meat and bones. (Unless you’re making vegetable broth which I will discuss in a separate post.)
Today it is easy to just buy the paper cartons or cans of stock from the grocery store instead of making it ourselves. Some of you may remember your parents or grandparents making broth from leftover meat carcass. It required minimal time and no additional cost. In addition, the store bought stock does not provide the health benefits of properly made bone broth. And with so much focus on minerals today, properly made bone broth is a simple and easy way to add minerals to our diet in a form that is easily digested and absorbed.
Has your doctor recommended you take glucosamine or chrondroitin? Well guess what? Bone broth is a cheap and inexpensive way to get natural glucosamine and chrondroitin. Not only is glucosamine good for joints, it also helps heal the lining of the digestive tract too. Properly made bone broth also supplies collagen and gelatin which aids digestion. Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride uses bone broth extensively as part of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet to help sooth inflammation, as a source of easily assimilated nutrients needed for overall good health, and for healing the digestive tract. Digestive complaints are a common problem today and bone broth can be especially helpful if you suffer from digestive issues related to food allergies or sensitivities, GERDS or acid reflux, IBS, colitis, Crohn’s disease, gluten intolerance and celiac disease, or any other digestive complaints.
Looking for a way to replenish lost electrolytes after a workout? Instead of sugar loaded sport drinks try packing a thermos of refreshing bone broth. Bone broth is naturally rich in electrolytes without the added chemicals or sugar and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Properly made bone broth contains not only calcium, but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, potassium, along with other trace minerals and amino acids that are beneficial to our overall health.
Some additional benefits of bone broth include, building strong immune systems and fighting infections; promotes strong, healthy bones; promotes healthy hair and nail growth; reduces joint pain and inflammation; and promotes sound sleep.
These benefits are not found in store bought broth. First, it is not likely a big food manufacturer takes the time to prepare the bones in such a way that their broth is as rich in minerals as homemade broth. Some brands don’t even list bones as an ingredient. Besides, many store-bought stocks use a variety of chemical ingredients. Even the better brands sometimes have natural flavors (which can include many things unnatural, including MSG). If you have multiple allergies or gluten sensitivity, it can be challenging at best to find a brand that has all allowable ingredients. And then there are the hidden ingredients that don’t need to be declared on food labels. Or processing methods that can destroy many nutrients in our food or are detrimental to our health such as extreme heat, or cans and cartons lined with chemicals I can’t pronounce. Besides, why pay a lot of money for something that can easily be made with bones you would normally discard.
Even if you don’t care about the health benefits, when bone broth is added to your recipes it can change an ordinary meal into an extraordinary meal. I have heard that the best chef’s use homemade broth because of the additional flavors it adds to a dish.
Delicious, Healthy and Inexpensive…how often does this happen?
So you’re probably wondering how to make this delicious wonder food?
Well I told you it is simple and I won’t disappoint you.
Start with bones from any animal, including fish. You can use marrow bones (usually called soup bones) purchased in the store or just use your leftover bones and scraps of meat from last night’s dinner. Not ready to turn your leftovers into stock right away? That’s okay! Just store them in the freezer until you are ready. In addition, save the outer peels from vegetables such as onions and carrots in the freezer.
When ready, place the bones in a pot and cover them with water (filtered water is best). Now add a tablespoon of vinegar (any type). It is the acid of the vinegar that works magic on the bones. This will help to extract all the wonderful minerals naturally present in bones and turn your broth into a wonder mineral rich beverage. Allow the bone to soak in the vinegar and water at room temperature for at least an hour. You can soak the bones for as long as 12 hours if this is more convenient. I usually place a lid on the pot and ignore it while I go about my other activities. Don’t worry about the flavor added from the vinegar, it will evaporate during cooking and won’t leave any residue flavors behind.
A word about bones: I prefer to use bones from organically-raised, pastured, or 100% grass fed animals that are not loaded with extra hormones and other chemicals, such as pesticide residues that end up in the bones and your broth.
After soaking, bring the bones to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. While the pot is coming to a boil you can prepare your other ingredients.
What other ingredients do you need? You can use any combination of ingredients you like. Start with all the peels you have been saving. I usually collect the outer skins of onions and leeks, parts of carrots, and tops of celery during the week in a zip lock bag that I keep in the freezer. Then add any combination of vegetables, herbs, and spices, you like. I usually add celery and carrots in addition to a selection of herbs and spices. Some suggestions to try include bay leaves, thyme, fresh garlic, parsley, and fresh ground pepper.
Now all it needs is time. Simmer covered on a very low heat for 2-12 hours. I recommend using a crock pot if you leave your pot unattended for long periods of time. You can set up the crock pot the night before with the bones, vinegar, water, vegetables, herbs and spices, and then place it on low before you leave in the morning.
The longer the broth simmers, the richer it will be. Some people don’t like the strong flavor of a rich broth. You can decide what works best for you.
Once the broth is done to your liking, pour the broth through a colander or strainer to remove the vegetable and bones and conserve the liquid broth. Store it in serving size containers in your freezer. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer.
When you need broth, it is easy to defrost ahead of time in the refrigerator, or if you are like me and not always good about planning your meals ahead of time, you can put the frozen container of broth in a little hot water. You just need to defrost it enough (which usually only takes a couple of minutes) to dump it from it’s container into a pot.
What can you do with broth? Drink it plain for a delicious, soothing, nutritious electrolyte rich tea that has many healing properties or use it as a base to cook soups, stews, vegetables, and grains.
Coming soon in a future post: How to make simple and delicious homemade vegetable broth.
Linda received an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing from The College of Staten Island in 1983 and her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2005. After 25 years as a neonatal intensive care nurse, Linda integrates nutrition as prime pillar of health. She specializes in helping individuals with diabetes, coronary artery disease and has extensive experience working with people who require restrictive diets. Linda’s goal is to provide you with the tools and resources you need to make good decisions about the foods you choose to nourish your body.