Bone broth is an Old-World remedy (that you can make at home) used across cultures to facilitate recovery from the cold or flu. Nutrition-oriented health practitioners — including functional medicine doctors, integrative doctors, naturopathic doctors and traditional Chinese medicine doctors — also "prescribe" bone broth to optimize gut health, relieve digestive distress, reduce allergies and sensitivities and improve joint health (arthritis) and autoimmune disorders.
An overwhelming majority of Americans are mineral deficient today because of poor digestion, depleted soils, malnutrition and malabsorption. Mineral deficiencies contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Bones (in bone broth), however, impart a largesse of minerals that can be easily absorbed by the body, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, zinc, and other trace minerals.
It is also an excellent source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a group of compounds that play an important role in the development, repair and replacement of cells. Made with tendons and cartilage produces two naturally occurring GAGs — chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine — now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
Gelatin is another powerful nutrient found in bone broth. When cooled, broth congeals. This is due to the presence of gelatin, which contributes to a Jell-O-like texture. Derived from the collagen in animal bones and connective tissue, gelatin allows the body to fully utilize proteins from other foods. Gelatin aids digestion — it can also help heal a leaky gut (intestinal permeability) that manifests as diarrhea, constipation or food sensitivities. Traditionally, gelatin has been used in the treatment of peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, diabetes and cancer.
You can make bone broth from chicken bones, of course, but also from pork bones, lamb bones, beef bones or fish bones. Ideally, you want to use the bones from grass-fed (pasture-raised) animals. Sources for bones include your local butcher, the farmers market and Whole Foods. I initially bought 100-percent grass-fed beef bones at Whole Foods, but then discovered that a farmer at my local greenmarket sold 100-percent grass-fed beef marrow bones for $2.50 per pound (about one-third of the price I paid at Whole Foods), and I buy bones from him now every two weeks.
12 to 16 8-oz (1 cup) servings
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 24-48 hours | Total time: 24-48 hours
Though the terms "broth," "stock," and "bone broth" are used interchangeably, there are subtle — but important — differences that distinguish each from the other.
Broth: Water simmered with meat or seafood and/or some vegetables (usually celery and carrots), aromatic herbs and a few bones. It is often simmered for a short period, up to two hours. The flavor and texture tends to be light.
Stock: Tends to be made primarily with bones, sinewy-textured meat trimmings, some vegetables (celery, carrots), aromatic herbs and water. Generally, stock simmers about three to four hours. It is a good source of minerals and gelatin, has a richer mouthfeel and flavor than broth and is often used as a base for soups and stews.
Bone broth: Typically made with bones and cartilage, and sometimes, a little meat. The bones are usually roasted first to impart greater depth of flavor. Bone broths are simmered for a long period of time, anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, ideally in a slow cooker. Properly prepared bone broth is rich in minerals, gelatin and collagen.
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