Another wonderful post from my contributing writer, Tiana Byers! Tiana is a writer living in Charlotte, NC, and a lover of real food. Since her diagnosis with Hashimoto’s in early 2015, she’s committed herself to an autoimmune-paleo lifestyle. Tiana enjoys trying new recipes, rollerskating, learning about holistic healing, and ballet. Her favorite foodie-treat is dried dates rolled in shredded coconut and her favorite outdoor activity is hikes with her adorable dog.
If you’re in search of a simple way to include more gut-sustaining and immune supporting foods into your diet, try bone broth. No, it’s not like the broth you get in your local markets, and it’s not as intimidating as it sounds (how often do things made with bones sound inviting?). Unlike its supermarket counterpart, bone broth is a real food rich with nutrients and delightfully savory when incorporated in recipes or consumed on its own.
First, let’s clarify the differences 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. Its chock full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and when prepared correctly it contains collagen/gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin. As if that wasn’t enticing enough, 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. Like Hippocrates said, “all diseases begin in the gut”- so support your body with gut-nourishing (and not to mention delicious) bone broth!
Before you bag your ingredients, make sure you have these appliances. To make bone broth, you’ll need
- Either a stock pot, slow cooker [Carolyn likes THIS ONE), roaster or pressure cooker [Carolyn likes THIS ONE]
- Baking pan (for roasting those bones…we’ll get to this!)
- Straining spoon, fine mesh strainer, reusable coffee filter or cheese cloth (for filtering out “scum”…it’s not as bad as it sounds)
- Measuring cup
- Heavy duty glass jars/bowls with lids
- A dishwasher with a sense of humor <wink>
Now that your kitchen is ready, here are the ingredients you’ll need
- Bones from 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 fish carcasses (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.
To prepare with a 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. Next, 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. As our very own Real Food Carolyn says, “just a bloop bloop bloop” at the top is perfect. 😉 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!
To prepare in a slow cooker – 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 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 that 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!
Preparing broth in a roasting pan 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. Be careful when lifting the roasting pan full of broth. Also be sure to include the drippings from the roasting pan for maximum gelatin.
A Pressure Cooker has a tight seal to trap hot steam, which builds pressure and temperature. Traditional cooks have conflicting views on issues with pressure cookers. I have seen many of the bloggers at my favorite Autoimmune Paleo sites rave over their pressure cookers, and Carolyn has used one for chicken broth with great results (she prefers the slow cooker/continuous method though). 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 in a mug each morning, 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. Enjoy your broth, and all the delicious benefits that come along with it!Many thanks to Tiana for this informative post! EVERYONE can make nourishing bone broth by following her easy guidelines! I’ll chime in with my favorite tip when consuming beef broth by the mug-full: For a powerhouse cup of awesomeness, add minced garlic and ginger to the saucepan when reheating beef broth. Looking for additional ways to create broth that is nutritious and tasty? Check out the Butter Your Broth ebook from Vibrant Life Army Wife. You’ll love it! -Carolyn