The Mystery of Bone Broth
Bone broth reigns supreme in its health benefits, and you can see why its epic comeback into kitchens across the nation is on everyone’s lips. Inexpensive, simple to prepare, warming and delicious, bone broth epitomizes ‘food as medicine’.
The slow-cooked nature of bone broths makes them easy to digest, and perfect for an under-functioning digestive system that could use a little “hug in a mug”. Bone broths are beautifully healing to the gut by reducing the permeability, providing a natural seal to the gut lining working to reduce inflammation, whilst still allowing other vital nutrients to be digested.
Bone broth is an important source of amino acids that are essential for the production of collagen, responsible for strong and healthy hair, skin and nails, and to support muscle and joint integrity and recovery. Amino acid glycine is also required for immune function, fat metabolism, and also calms the central nervous system while proline is essential for promoting cardiovascular health. Chicken broth also contains the amino acid, cysteine, which thins excess mucus off your lungs, making it less sticky and congestive, and easier to pass.
You can style your bone broth with your favourite flavours. Add warming spices such as turmeric, ginger, chilli, garlic or mushroom varieties such as shiitake to promote circulation and add anti-bacterial properties to help combat colds and flu and boost immune function. Add seasonal vegetables towards the end of the cooking time to allow them to hold their shape and retain their flavour. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the simmering broth to help leach minerals from the bones into the broth, allowing them to be more bioavailable to the body.
Having some bone broth on hand is very versatile. Make up a big batch and freeze in various portion sizes to suit every need. You can use it to add flavour to soups and stews, freeze in ice cube trays to pop into juices and smoothies or heat through vegetables and grains. Add some dumplings, noodles or leftover protein and a few handfuls of veggies for a super quick and delicious mid-week dinner, or enjoy it straight up as a warming pick-me-up to sip throughout the day.
Basic Bone Broth
2-3kg organic bones (e.g. beef, chicken, lamb) or 3 chicken carcasses
2 chicken feet (optional, for additional gelatin)
5L cold water (approximately)
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
A few pieces of dried seaweed, such as kombu or wakame, or 1 heaped tablespoon of flakes
4 cloves garlic, smashed or halved
To add flavour try: 2 inches chopped ginger; 1 bunch herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano; 1 tsp peppercorns; 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised; 1 small chilli, halved lengthways; 2 bay leaves; 1 tbsp turmeric; leftover vegetable scraps (garlic and onion skin, celery tops, carrot skin, leek greens, mushroom stalks and unused herb stalks)
- Preheat oven to 180C and place the bones with extra meat on a baking tray. Brown in the oven for 45mins.
- Meanwhile, place the remaining bones in a large pot or slow cooker. Cover with cold water and apple cider vinegar and allow to sit until the meaty bones are ready.
- Remove the bones from the oven and add to the pot, along with the chicken feet, onions, carrots, celery, vegetable scraps, herbs and spices.
- Cook on a low simmer, covered, for 24-48 hours if making beef bone broth (12 hours for chicken or poultry, 6 hours for fish). Alternatively, set a large slow cooker to low, and let simmer for 24-48 hours. Top up with an additional 2 cups of water 3-4 times whilst cooking if the liquid level drops below the bones, but not during the last 4 hours to allow for a more concentrated flavour.
- With 20 minutes left of cooking time, add the seaweed and garlic to the broth.
- Skim regularly to remove the foam or any impurities that float to the surface to maintain a clear broth.
- When ready, remove the bones from the broth with tongs and strain. You should be left with approximately 2 litres of broth.
- Allow the broth to cool, then refrigerate for an hour. Once chilled, remove fat layer from the surface and discard. Avoid removing the jelly from the broth, as this is the gelatin that will provide many of the nutrients that the broth is made for.
- Reheat to drink as a tea, or freeze into portions for later use (different sized jars and vessels are handy for different uses – freeze in ice cube trays for adding flavour to grains, in mug sized jars for consuming as beverages, in larger jars for soup and casserole bases.
- Enjoy 1 cup daily for some delicious tummy love.