Tips for Making Bone Broth

Image of a pot of bone broth

As with all ‘superfoods,’ bone broth contains a high number of nutrients, beginning with amino acids. The protein in bones contains amino acids that are released into the broth during cooking. Can you say the same about that store-bought bouillon cube? If not, listen closely to what the bountiful bone broth has to offer.

First is glutamine, the main nutrient used by small intestinal cells. When you are stressed, glutamine is depleted and the cells of the small intestines suffer, leading to leaky gut. By consuming glutamine, your intestinal cells get the nutrients they need to be healthy, absorb nutrients from your food, and block pathogens from entering your body. Next up is glycine, which is calming to the nervous system and supports healthy stomach acid and bile production to help you digest your food. It is an important nutrient for the liver and is needed for your body to make the antioxidant glutathione. It is also known to be anti-inflammatory. All of these actions are known to help heal leaky gut as well as to decrease autoimmunity and oxidative stress. Additional amino acids, proline and arginine, are also known to be anti-inflammatory, which help the gut to heal and decrease inflammation in other areas of the body. Finally, cysteine helps thin out mucus during a cold. Like glycine, it is used for the production of glutathione, which helps to decrease oxidative stress.

Collagen and gelatin are two more powerhouse nutrients in bone broth. When the bones are cooked, the matrix called collagen is broken down and turns into gelatin—the same stuff used to make gummies and Jell-O. In fact, when bone broth is kept in the fridge, it will congeal like Jell-O due to the gelatin in it. Gelatin is healing for the intestinal lining because it supports the mucus (the slimy stuff) that protects your intestinal cells. Without this mucus, your intestinal lining is left vulnerable to unhealthy bacteria, which can cause Leaky Gut. Gelatin also decreases inflammation, allowing your intestinal cells to heal. Once absorbed into your body, gelatin is thought to be used in other areas of your body including your hair, skin, and nails.

Glycosaminoglycans, including glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, are often used to address joint pain and arthritis. When the cartilage in the bones and joints in the broth break down during cooking, these glycosaminoglycans dissolve into the broth so that, when you eat it, you get all the same nutrients you would get from taking a supplement, but from a food rather than from a tablet.

Finally, bones contain a variety of minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, silica, and other trace minerals (fish bones also contain iodine), all of which are helpful as electrolytes to keep you hydrated and support bone health. Electrolytes are important for cell function, including intestinal cells.

By Doni Wilson, ND, CPM, CNS

Basic Bone Broth

It is not difficult to make bone broth, but it does take quite a long time—anywhere between 12 and 72 hours. There are not many measurements in the following recipe, because much of this process is up to personal taste preferences. Go wild with flavors and ingredients near and dear to your taste buds.

First of all, you need to buy your bones, preferably bones from grass-fed animals, if possible. You may need to find a butcher or try an Asian market to find chicken necks, oxtails, and soup bones that work best for bone broth. You can use beef, chicken, lamb, and fish bones to make bone broth. Put the bones into a large pan and cover them with water. It is important to add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar because it pulls the nutrients from the bones. You can also add your favorite herbs and vegetables such as onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and parsley.

Boil the bone mixture for at least 1.5 hours (for those of you with a sensitive digestion), or preferably 12 hours (best for fish bones), and optimally 24 to 72 hours. Using a crockpot can make this process less messy. Once the bones are soft, strain the broth and discard the bones (or save them and eat them if you like). Some people prefer to refrigerate and then skim the fat off the top of the bone broth, but that is only necessary if you don’t digest fats well, or if you are concerned that the bones you used may have contained toxins. You can use the bone broth immediately in a soup or sauce, or freeze it for later.

Be a Broth Master

Many people think making broth is a terrible b-word…bland. We can’t abide by bland broths anymore, so here are some tips for getting deeper flavor into your stocks.

Sauté the onions, garlic, and celery in 2 tablespoons of oil, stirring frequently before adding water, bones, and remaining vegetables.

Try using trimmings from potatoes, celery, carrots, tomatoes, onions, parsley, mushrooms, parsnip, zucchini, leeks, corn cobs, and garlic.

Avoid using vegetables that become bitter such as bell peppers, radishes, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

As far as herbs, the only one that can be used freely is parsley. You can use a few stalks of other herbs such as thyme, oregano, dill, basil, or marjoram, but keep in mind that too much of these herbs can overpower the stock.

Source: Mark Reinfeld and The 30 Minute Vegan Soups On!

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