The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

You’ve noticed them in the butchers’ meat counter. Parts of animals you don’t want to see and you wonder, “who buys this stuff and what do they do with it anyway?” Then you may see me walk in and ask for one split pigs foot, a few beef bones with lots of knuckle and half a dozen chicken necks and backs. As long as I have a slow cooker, I’ll work it overtime making broth and stock.

It’s not new. Remember your grandmother simmering chicken bones on the stove? Well, she did it most likely to make soup but there are a whole lot of new things to make with that pot of stock or broth. But first, the difference between stock and broth.

There’s a lot of confusion and most people use the words interchangeably. Rightly so, they’re both made on the same basic premise of simmering water, bones and/or meat, vegetables and seasonings. It’s that simple.

So here is the difference. Broth is the simplest, lightest and quickest to make, sometimes in as little as an hour.  Stock on the other hand, requires a little more of a time commitment to produce, anywhere from eight to twelve hours. Both are ultimately better tasting than anything you could buy from a store and both are better for you too. You can make broth or stock in many flavours like beef, chicken, fish and vegetable.

But there’s a new kid on the what’s-new-in-health block and it’s called bone broth. Heralded as the elixir of life, the fountain of youth and often referred to as liquid gold, I’ve seen miraculous claims such as superfood, anti-aging, gut healing and energizing.

Bone broth is made the same way you’d make traditional broth, the difference being bone broth is simmered for a very long period of time, often between 24 to 48 hours. That’s a long time! But, it’s necessary to produce gelatin from the collagen-rich bones and extract the bones rich resources of minerals.

California health guru, Heather Dane, better known as the 21st Century Medicine Woman, uses a blend of science and ancient wisdom to help people resolve chronic health conditions. The premise of her recommendations is bone broth. It was Heather’s book, The Bone Broth Secret (Hay House) that inspired me to start simmering a pot of bones on the stove.

Heather explains bone broth has bioavailable collagen that makes it a unique health food and bioavailable nutrients with easily digestible amino acids, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. I’m not an expert on any of that, but it sure tastes great!

Throughout history, almost every country has had a tradition of boiling bones of meat-giving animals to make a nutritive broth. It was used to make soups, sauces, gravies as well as providing the liquid for cooking vegetables, beans, rice and grains. But now, Heather wants you to do so much more with bone broth.

For example, drink a cup of warm bone broth instead of coffee in the morning. While the idea may sound a little repulsive at first, I have to admit that sipping a cup of warm bone broth is overwhelmingly comforting versus the stimulating cup of coffee. I’ve come to really like it now and take it in a to-go cup when I’m on the road and can’t find a good, quick bite.

For breakfast, Heather recommends cooking your oatmeal in bone broth. For a gluten-free version, try cream of buckwheat or quinoa flakes. Spice it up with cinnamon and nutmeg and sweeten it with maple syrup or honey. It is surprisingly delicious.

There is no one-recipe for bone broth, instead you can use whatever you find at the market, the butchers and even in your own compost bin! Yes, the beauty of making bone broth, like any broth is that you can use vegetable scraps and leftover bones from previous meals.

You can even mix up your bones. For example, you can use a base of simple beef bones and add a split pig’s foot for a gelatin-rich bone broth. Simmer for up to 48 hours and refrigerate. Remove the fat cap and you’ll most likely have a thick substance that resembles Jell-O more than broth. That’s ok, it melts when warmed and you can always add water if it’s too rich.

Through trial and error, I’ve discovered the best bones are marrow bones, knuckle bones and split pigs feet. Ox tails with their high meat and fat ratio make an incredibly rich and delicious bone broth but because of their high price tag I’ve come to refer to it as the champagne of bone broths.

The big secret to extracting nutrients from bones is the addition of apple cider vinegar. About half a cup will do. Add it to the water in your slow cooker before turning up the heat and the vinegar will draw out the deepest vitamins and nutrients from the bones. You don’t even taste the vinegar in the end.

Don’t think you have to buy fresh vegetables for your broth. I put a bin in the freezer and every day I throw my vegetable scraps into it. When it’s full, I add bones and make beef broth or I make a pot of vegetable broth. You only need to simmer vegetable broth for one to two hours, it gives me plenty of flavourful liquid for cooking the rest of the week and supplies my vegan son with vegetable broth for his kitchen as well. Our mushroom risotto, root vegetable terrine and caramelized onions never tasted so good.

Using bone broth my meatloaf tastes like a prime rib, mashed celery root tastes richer and somehow butterier. I use it to cook barley, quinoa and rice and have even experimented with pancakes, muffins and zucchini bread. Yes, they’re delicious, a little more elegant and obviously better for you.

In our home, we inevitably have a crockpot of perpetually brewing broth bubbling away on the counter. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started.

Lynns Favourite Bone Broth

  • 2 pounds of raw beef bones, preferably with lots of knuckles
  • 4 marrow bones
  • 1 split pigs foot
  • 2 to 4 cups vegetable scraps that you’ve saved in the freezer
  • or an onion, 2 carrots and 2 celery sticks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

Roast the beef and marrow bones in a preheated 450F oven for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the pigs foot for 10 minutes to remove any impurities. Put the roasted bones, boiled pigs foot, vegetable scraps and seasonings into a slow cooker, cover with water and add apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set it to low. Simmer for two days, starting the time when it begins to simmer. If the water evaporates and the bones are sticking out of the water, add more water. Once done, remove the bones, strain and refrigerate. The next day, remove the fat cap, season and enjoy. Makes 6 to 8 litres of rich bone broth that will last about 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Broth: Simply speaking broth is made with meat and some bones. So don’t throw out that chicken carcass, instead, simmer it for a short period of time, say anywhere from one to two hours with some vegetables and seasonings. You’ll have a broth that is light in flavour and texture and incredibly rich in protein.

Stock: Stock is typically made mostly with bones, although there may still be a small amount of meat robust flavour. The liquid is simmered for a longer period of time, about three to four hours and besides a great source of protein, also becomes a wonderful source of gelatin (great for hair, nails and bones).

Bone Broth: Made with bones (with or without knuckle) that are roasted first and simmered anywhere from 24 to 36 hours. This time is needed to produce gelatin from the collagen-rich joints and also extract minerals from within the bones. At the end of cooking, the bones should crumble when pressed lightly between your thumb and forefinger.


Written By: Lynn Ogryzlo

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