Humans have been boiling animal bones in water, and drinking the resulting nourishing broth, since ancient times. Your grandmother probably also had a recipe for bone broth or stock and used it as a base for soups, stews and gravies – just as most good restaurants do today.
Yet if you happen to be in New York City, you might see people walking down the street with a steaming cup of broth instead of coffee, as bone broth has emerged as a trendy “new” health drink. Wise Choice Market, which sells its own version of bone broth online, lists several historical references to bone broth, which show its ancient roots:[i]
- Chinese medicine: Bone broth is traditionally used to support digestive health, build the blood and strengthen the kidneys. “The marrow of bones is considered to nourish and sustain ‘jing’, meaning “the reservoir from which we draw energetic sustenance during our entire lives,” Wise Choice Market states.
- Jewish Penicillin: This ages-old reference refers to chicken soup, which is traditionally made from bones and cartilage-rich chicken parts. Chicken soup has been found to contain anti-inflammatory substances and may reduce cold symptoms.[ii]
- 12th Century: The Egyptian physician Moses Miamonides reportedly prescribed chicken soup as a remedy for colds and asthma.
Indeed, in the modern day, many people report gaining energy, soothing digestive troubles and feeling stronger after drinking the broth. It’s even said to be useful for relieving joint pain and arthritis. While there’s little scientific research yet to support its use, simmering bones gently for hours helps to release beneficial nutrients into the broth.
Among them are collagen, which is beneficial for joint health, gelatin, which helps with digestion, and a host of other vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamins E and C. Bone broth is so nourishing that Dr. Cate Shanahan, the director of the Lakers PRO Nutrition Program, uses it as a key part of the Lakers’ diet.[iii] Kobe Bryant has even credited it for its healing effects, telling ESPN:[iv]
“I’ve been doing the bone broth for a while now… It’s great — energy, inflammation. It’s great.”
If you’re interested in trying bone broth for its health potential, avoid the stock and broth sold at the typical grocery store. Most store-bought stocks are made with low-quality ingredients and have added sodium, sugar, artificial flavors and artificial colors to make them taste good. When you make bone broth yourself, you’ll get a rich flavor naturally, and you’ll know it’s high quality if it turns into a jelly-like consistency when you put it in the fridge.
Aside from the time element (some recipes call for simmering the broth for 24-48 hours), bone broth is incredibly easy to make (you can cook it in a slow cooker, too). If you want to give it a try, here’s a recipe posted by The Nourishing Cook,[v] which comes from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook:
Grass-Fed Beef Bone Broth[vi]
- 4 pounds of grass-fed beef marrow, knuckle bones, bits of leftover beef
- 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
- 4 or more quarts cold water
- 1/4 cup vinegar [this helps draw the minerals out of the bones]
- 3 onions, coarsely chopped (or your bag of collected frozen onion parts)
- 3 carrots coarsely chopped (I omit this sometimes)
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped (I omit this if I don’t have celery)
- Celtic sea salt – optional – only after broth is completed
- Place all of your bones that have meaty bits on them on a large cookie sheet (with sides) or roasting pan and brown in the oven at 350 degrees until well-browned (30-60 minutes usually).
- Meanwhile, throw all of your non-meaty marrow bones into a stockpot, add the water, vinegar and vegetables. Let sit while the other bones are browning.
- Add the browned bones to the pot, deglaze your roasting pan with hot water and get up all of the brown bits, pour this liquid into the pot. Add additional water if needed to cover the bones.
- Bring to a boil and remove the scum/foam that rises to the top. No need to remove the floating fat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 12 hours and as long as 72 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the more rich and flavorful it will be.
- After 2-3 hours you will want to ‘rescue’ any of the meat you need for recipes or marrow that you’d like to eat. Using tongs find your marrow bones, pop out the marrow with a small knife and return the bone to the pot.
- After you simmer for 12-72 hours, Sally Fallon now says this in the recipe in Nourishing Traditions …
“You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.”
- Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and/or tongs. Strain the stock into a large bowl, then ladle into wide mouth mason jars. Let the jars sit until they are cool, then freeze or refrigerate. You can remove the congealed fat after refrigerating or even freezing, if you want to reduce it a step
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Written By: Updated: March 25,2015