The Beneficent Bone Broth
Bone broth. We get bombarded with prompts to make this mysterious elixir every year around this time. It has the paradoxical property of being completely mundane and ordinary while at the same time being a bit mystical and wondrous. It’s a pot of boiling bones after all, so why the mystique?
Well partly, because bone broth seems a little bit tricky and definitely sounds tedious. At the same time we get constantly informed as to it’s life-giving properties and sometimes it almost seems worth it. Well, it is worth it so let’s challenge ourselves to make this ancient brew for health’s sake.
Here’s some motivation:
One of the major nutrients in bone broth is Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that has been well researched and has shown to be beneficial in healing and repair within the body.
The body seems to utilise glutamine in higher concentrations when in stress states.
“Abundant evidence suggests that glutamine may become a “conditionally essential” amino acid in the critically ill. During stress the body’s requirements for glutamine appear to exceed the individual’s ability to produce sufficient amounts of this amino acid(1).”
Gut health appears to be improved with supplemented glutamine(2) as does the speed at which bone fractures heal(3). As well as being an important amino acid for tissues in the body, Glutamine also plays a huge role in the healthy functioning of our brains. Scientists are investigating the therapeutic benefit of supplementing Glutamine for treating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s(4).
Glycine is another nutrient found in high amounts in bone broth via the gelatin released from the bones. It is associated with improved sleep quality and improvements to mental health as well as memory and learning(5).
Gelatin itself has received a lot of attention of late for it’s many reported health benefits. From joint pain, digestive aid, sleep improvement, mood enhancer, skin toner and bone health – the list goes on. It seems that having a healthy supply of these protein ‘building-blocks’ at your disposal is associated with health.
Your body appears to need more amino acids in times of stress and when you fall ill, so it seems like a great idea to cover your bases and keep them topped up through winter.
Feeling intrigued by these benefits? Great! I know you know how to make bone broth, but here’s how anyway!
What The Fat? Bone Broth
- 1 – 2kg Beef Bones (fresh or frozen, doesn’t matter)
- 2 tbsp Vinegar (apple cider vinegar is perfect but any vinegar will do)
- 3 – 5 litres of water (or enough to cover the bones)
- 1 – 2 carrots peeled, root removed and halved lengthways
- 1 – 2 onions, root removed, any discoloured skin removed (leaving a little skin on the onion will give the broth a nice light tea colour)
- Salt and pepper to taste (sea water is about 3.5% saltiness so I generally find 2% to be a nice starting point for all foods including sauces, meat patties e.t.c., if you end up with 2L stock this will equate to 40g salt or 2 and ½ tbsp!)
- Fresh chopped herbs like parsley or chives to serve
Add the bones to a large pot, add the vinegar and the water and bring up slowly to a boil over the course of an hour. If you know your cooker will retain a boil at say number 5 on the element or on half-way for gas cookers, then it’s a safe bet this temperature setting will produce a boil in due course.
If after an hour it’s not up to the boil increase the setting a little and keep an eye on it. Once the broth is up to the boil, skim the surface with a ladle to remove the scum and excess fat which will make your broth overly greasy and cloudy (you can retain this fat and set it in the fridge, scrape the fat layer off the top and reserve it for cooking).
After that, add in the vegetables and allow to simmer for approx 24hrs! You can do this in stages over a couple of days – in between boil sessions you can cover the pot and leave outside (if it’s cold enough) or transfer to the fridge overnight. Ensure you keep topping the water up to it’s original level every couple of hours until the 24 hrs has expired.
Once the broth has finished cooking, strain through a fine sieve and also through a muslin if you like. Season the stock, taste, re-season and tub the broth in glass jars or suitable containers once it has cooled sufficiently. Freeze some broth if you don’t think you’ll use it within 4 days. It is delicious as a hot drink with some chopped herbs, and as a base for sauces and soups.
- You can boil the broth longer (up to 48hrs) to extract maximum amounts of the nutrients in the bones.
- You can use different bones as well. Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Venison are all great – you can use a combination of bones to produce a richer, rounder flavour. Be aware that if you use chicken bones in combination, you might want to give the thicker, heavier bones a head-start.
- You can turn it into a “Super Broth” by adding some turmeric to the broth. I saw some fresh Turmeric the other day in a fruit and veg shop in town. You can also use frozen if you can find it or last resort ground turmeric. It also gives it a beautiful luminous yellow colour.
- I once made a beautiful broth with chicken bones and ginseng, it was very stimulating and helped me focus. Ginseng can be a little pricey however.
- Practical concerns: broth unfortunately kicks up a lot of condensation so ensure you use an extraction fan when boiling. Alternatively, is it possible for you to boil your broth outside on say a fire pit or something similar?
- Based on NZ kwh prices I think it cost 0.30c an hour to boil the broth so if you boil it for 24 hours it will cost $6.80. Including the cost of the rest of the ingredients a batch of broth will cost $10. Worth it I think.
Bone broth is one of those things that if you make a couple of weeks in a row, you’ll have heaps on hand for a month. It’s a job that in the kitchen is simply a habit. You come in, you put bones on and you let them do their thing – it’s really low labour in reality and it’s just a habit you build.