If you’re in search of a simple way to include more gut-sustaining and immune supporting foods into your diet, try bone broth! Bone broth is a real food rich with essential nutrients and is delightfully savory when incorporated into recipes or consumed on its own.
First, let’s clarify the difference between bone broth and the broths you might find in a grocery store. Bone broth, when made from healthy, pastured animals, is a much revered ancestral food and staple of a nourishing diet. It’s full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and when prepared correctly it contains collagen/gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin. Bone broth also provides you with amino acids glycine and proline. All of these properties support joint health, strong bones and a healthy immune system. That is a lot of winning for gut health!
To make bone broth, you’ll need these appliances:
- Either a stock pot, slow cooker [THIS ONEis a fave], roaster or pressure cooker [try THIS ONE]
- Baking pan (for roasting those bones…I’ll get to this later!).
- Straining spoon, fine mesh strainer, reusable coffee filter or cheesecloth (for filtering out “scum”…I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds).
- Measuring cup
- Heavy duty glass jars/bowls with lids
- A dishwasher with a sense of humor . Ha!
Now that your kitchen is ready, here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Bones from HEALTHY poultry, beef, lamb, venison, pork, bison, goat, or mutton
- You can also include chicken skin, feet and heads and/or pig feet, ears and tail. These “bonuses” will bulk up your broth with added nutrients and gelatin.
- A combination of meaty-bones and “boney-bones” is ideal
- Joint bones and other bones with lots of cartilage are preferred
- If you choose to use thick beef marrow bones, try roasting the bones prior and saving the marrow for other uses
- If you want to make seafood broth, use carcasses from HEALTHY fish (including the head) and shrimp shells
- Cold filtered water
- Raw apple cider vinegar to help extract minerals from the bones
- Green peppercorns to improve the digestive profile of the broth
- Organic vegetables, herbs and other seasonings, including kombu, dulse, etc.
- Unrefined salt and/or fermented fish sauce.
You can prepare your broth via stovetop, roasting pan in the oven, slow cooker, pressure cooker or by continuous method. Before making your broth, here’s something to consider: If you are on the GAPS Diet or other gut-healing protocol, a short cooking time is recommended.
Basic Stovetop Technique
- Roast the bones for 30 to 40 minutes at 350°. This step is optional, but creates a richer flavor profile for the broth.
- Fill your stock pot 75 to 80% full of leftover bones and add filtered water to just cover the bones. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes. Bring your broth to a hard simmer/light boil (NOT a rolling boil) and “skim the scum” from the top. (The scum bits are the impurities and denatured proteins that will cloud your broth.)
- Reduce the heat, add your green peppercorns, and simmer very lightly for several hours. You’ll know your broth is simmering at the right temperature if a couple bubbles gently surface every now and again.
- Towards the end of your simmer (or when you are reheating), try adding in onions, leeks, carrots and celery. Also consider aromatics like parsley, garlic, ginger, turmeric and more. Toss in whatever flavor profiles you like best!
Slow Cooker Method
Place the same ingredients from above into your slow cooker and set on low for 12 or more hours. You’ll need to watch carefully to determine the best heat setting. You may also need to prop the lid slightly open to prevent a hard boil. There’s no need to “skim the scum” – it will sink to the bottom over time.
Continuous Broth-Making Method
This is the process of ladling out a good portion of your prepared broth from the slow cooker every 12 to 24 hours and replacing it with more filtered water. You can add a few fresh bones each time. Try breaking up the larger bones (if you are able) to release more nutrients. Your later batches will not be as nutritious or gelatinous as the earlier ones.
Please note: With this method, longer simmering times can create free glutamates, which are a natural substance that can be irritating to those who are sensitive to MSG. This is an awesome method for making large batches of healing broth for your whole family – just be aware of potential irritants!
Roasting Pan Method
This is similar to using a slow cooker.
- Place ingredients and water in the roaster. Put in an oven preheated to 300° and let it hang out for 30-25 minutes at that temp.
- Then, turn the heat down to 200° for the remaining time. Watch for proper simmer and add water if there is too much evaporation.
Tips: Be careful when lifting the roasting pan full of broth. Also be sure to include the drippings from the roasting pan for maximum gelatin.
Pressure Cooker Method
A pressure cooker has a tight seal to trap hot steam, which builds pressure and temperature. Be sure to follow the directions provided by your pressure cooker.
Once you’ve finished your batch of delicious and immune supporting bone broth, bring the broth to a chilled temp quickly. Store it in heavy jars in the refrigerator (up to 5 days) or the freezer (up to six months). It’s okay to leave a fat cap, if there’s one. If you had a long simmer time (maybe by the continuous method), then consider discarding the fat as the delicate fat molecules may have been damaged by the extended exposure to the heat. You can also reduce the broth on the stovetop and store in small, convenient containers for future use (like an ice cube tray), or even dehydrate the broth.
Use your nourishing bone broth in soups, stews, risotto, polenta, stir-fry dishes, to cook rice and pasta, or in reduction sauces and gravies. My favorite way to use it is by the mug-full. For a powerhouse cup of awesomeness, add minced garlic and ginger to the saucepan when reheating. Also try it with a teaspoon of good apple cider vinegar and a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt. Make sure you serve yours with a good unrefined salt like Himalayan, Celtic, or Real Salt.