There was a time when I didn't know how to make broth. I would just use the stuff that came in cartons. But as a foodie I knew that rich, flavorful stock is the basis of many delicious recipes so I added broth making to my skill set. I've always known that homemade broth is healthy but "bone broth," as traditional food enthusiasts refer to it, is a nutrition powerhouse. Why do you think chicken soup makes you feel better when you're poorly? It's not because of the chicken or the vegetables. It's the BONES! (Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not a sous chef.)
"Good broth will resurrect the dead," says a South American proverb. Said Escoffier: "Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done."
Really great chefs and home cooks are lost without long simmered broth. It is absolutely crucial for adding deep, rich flavor to soups, stews, sauces, gravies, reductions and for cooking flavorful grains and beans. And how very healthy bone broth is makes it the essential nutritious and delicious food.
The health benefits of are many and varied, I'm starting to know learn some first hand. Good quality bones are loaded with minerals and gelatin and other crucial nutrients. With the addition of an acid like vinegar to the stock pot these nutrients will leach out of the bones and into the broth. We consume the broth and all of these lovely, health-giving goodies are readily absorbed by our bodies.
Broth will boost the immune system.
Broth will heal digestive and intestinal damage so that the body can absorb more nutrients from food.
Broth contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals which are vital for bone health (between all the broth I'm consuming and the trace mineral supplement I've adde,d my once thin, peeling nails are like rocks and growning like weeds, I can just imagine what it's doing for my bones.)
The gelatin content in broth supports joint health, broth is a natural source of glucosamine and condroitin.
The collagen and elastin go to work on our connective tissue as well as do wonderful things to our skin. Cosmetic companies have made billions selling collagen elastin skin creams to those of us who want firm beautiful skin. Save your money, drink some broth! I've even read that broth consumption can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. This I can't confirm, but broth has done some beautiful things for my skin.
Additional information can be found in this informative post from Traditional Foods.
So, how much broth? I aim to drink two large coffee mugs per day in addition to getting into the meals we eat. I'll follow up this post with some of my recipes that incorporate bone broth.
The easiest way of having this nutritious and delicious elixir on hand is Jenny's perpetual soup method found on her Nourished Kitchen blog. You just need a slow cooker.
Plop in the best quality chicken you can afford (four pounds is a manageable size.) Add some vegetable scraps or a couple of carrots, a couple of celery ribs, one onion. Toss in a teaspoon of salt, a handful of peppercorns, cover with filtered water and pour in a couple tablespoons vinegar. Put the lid on and set it to high.
Don't forget the parsley!
After about four hours, pull the chicken out. (You'll know the chicken is done when the joints wiggle really easily and the juices run clear. Don't make the mistake of cooking the chicken too long. My first time with this method, I cooked the chicken for 24 hours on low and the meat was dry and mushy and not delicious.)
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, harvest all that juicy, flavorful meat. Put the bones back in the pot, adding more water if needed. Set the pot to low and in 20 hours the broth is ready to drink and cook with. The trick is, each time you take some broth from the pot, you add back the same amount of water and additional seasoning if needed. I do this for the next six days.
Any broth left over goes into mason jars. Then I start again with a fresh chicken.
This method yields a deep, rich broth. Sometimes I roast the chicken instead and just put the bones in the pot with all the other ingredients set the pot to low and in 24 hours the broth is ready.
If you have any doubt about the goodness of the bones going into the broth, have a look at this...
Chicken bones turn to dust in my fingers!
Stay tuned for some ideas for broth and chicken. As always, questions and comments are most welcome.