Making bone broth is one of the easiest and healthiest things you can do for your body! About a year ago, I was seeing posts on all of my social media feeds with headlines like “how to make your own bone broth” and “amazing health benefits of homemade bone broth.” Making broth, what I had previously bought from a container or a can at the grocery store every once in a while to make the occasional soup or use in a random recipe, seemed like an unnecessary waste of time and probably pretty time consuming.
My mom (who is also a Health Coach) had also seen these headlines, and clicked some to learn more. She was hooked from then on, and it didn’t take her long to convince me to start making it either. Now let’s see if I can convince you!
So what is bone broth? Also called “stock,” it’s is a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with a variety of vegetables, herbs and spices. One of most people’s interactions with broth is in the form of soup! I’m sure everyone has had someone tell them to have soup when they were sick. There’s a reason behind that other than just being warm and delicious. The University of Nebraska Medical Center conducted a study to find out what it was in bone broth that made it so beneficial for colds and flu. They discovered that the amino acids that were produced when making bone broth reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and cells, and improved digestion. It also works pro-actively by boosting the immune system to prevent the cold or flu in the first place.
What nutritional benefits does bone broth offer? LOTS of them!! The reason it’s such a fantastic source of nutrients/minerals (like magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus) is that they enter our bodies in forms that are easily absorbed. It contains amino acids that help reduce inflammation, arthritis, and join pain. It has collagen that helps give our skin strength and elasticity – aka helps fight wrinkles! If you’re feeling any types of aches and pains, bone broth will help relieve them by its anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps prevent bone loss (after puberty we lose about 1% of our bone density every year!) and built healthy hair, skin and nails.
Bone broth is insanely important for maintaining a healthy gut and digestive system, and even healing leaky gut. If you have any type of digestive problems like gas, bloating, diarrhea, or IBS…chances are very good that you have a leaky gut. It’s ok though. I had it too. It’s cure-able! The main culprits that cause leaky gut are: certain types of food (mainly gluten, dairy, sugar), using products that kill gut flora (antibiotics, birth control pill), and absorbing toxins (pesticides, BPA). These types of things ‘poke holes’ in the gut (aka small intestine, where most of the vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat are absorbed). When there are holes, undigested food particles and toxins that are normally blocked, are allowed to make their way into the blood stream. Because these items are not supposed to be in the blood, they cause the immune to go into attack mode, which can often lead to the types of digestive reactions listed above. Not fun! But bone broth (and some other things…look out for a post on this topic later) help to seal up those holes and banish those digestive problems.
Is the store-bought version just as good? No way Jose! Any brother or stock you see on the shelves at the grocery store will not give you those amazing health benefits. It has been cooked quickly at a high temperature, resulting in watered down meaty tasting liquid. When it’s not cooked the proper way, all of those beneficial vitamins and nutrients don’t get extracted from the bones. Also, there are many brands that add unnatural flavors and additives (like MSG, often times hidden under the name Yeast Extract). I like to freeze the broth I make that I’m not using right away in smaller containers so I just thaw/use what I need.
How easy is it? Very! I’ll give you more guidance below on the types of bones/vegetables/herbs to use and where to find good bones, but now I’ll give you a run down of the overall easy method.
- Filtered water
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- Add the bones into your slow cooker/crock pot (turned off) along with the raw apple cider vinegar.
- Add enough filtered water to cover the bones, and let sit for 20-30 minutes (this pulls out all of the nutrients from the bones).
- Add the flavorings for the broth to the bone/water mixture (herbs/vegetables/whole peppercorns/bay leaf). Fill the pot up to about an inch from the top with more filtered water and put the cover on.
- Turn on the crock pot to high for the first hour to bring it up to a simmer, then down to low for 12-24 more hours.
- After that time has passed, using a large strainer and a large bowl, and slowly ladle the newly made broth into the strainer to strain out all of the ingredients. You're left with super delicious and nutritious broth!
- Store in thick/sturdy glass containers if possible. It freezes really well!
The first time I made bone broth I used the remains from a whole chicken I had taken the meat off of. At the end of this post I’ll include a recipe to make a whole chicken in a crock pot that takes less than 5 minutes of prep work…stay tuned. That’s my favorite way to make bone broth because I get to enjoy lots of meat from the chicken, then re-purpose it for broth. Thanksgiving is great for this too 🙂
What kind of bones are good to use and where do you get them? You can use bones from many different types of animals (from buffalo to duck to even sea bass). Whichever type you choose, be sure to look for high quality bones. This means grass-fed cattle or bison, pasture-raised poultry, and wild-caught fish. Since you’re going to be extracting minerals out of them in a concentrated form, then drinking it, you really want to make sure the animal was as healthy as possible to begin with. Also, get a variety of bones. Marrow bones, oxtail, knuckles, feet (chicken feet have LOTS of wrinkle-fighting collagen), they’re all great for broth. I was intimidated at first buying things like those (“I’d like some chicken feet please” was so weird to say) but it gets easier!
There are many options for where to get these good bones. Locally – you can ask your local butcher or find a farm nearby (ask at a farmer’s market for help finding one). Grocery stores that carry healthier foods like Earth Fare and Whole foods are great. I’ve bought pre-packaged knuckle bones and marrow bones from their freezer section, or you can ask the guys behind the meat counter. They won’t look at you weird I promise! Online is another really good resource, I’ve bought chicken feet and all kinds of other bones from US Wellness Meats. You’ll want about 2 pounds of bones for every gallon of water in your pot.
What are some good vegetables and herbs to add for flavor? I’ll list some ideas below, but feel free to mix and match, and invent your own! There’s no right or wrong here (keep in mind, certain veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard/mustard greens will make your broth taste bitter):
- Bay leaf
- Whole peppercorns
What’s a good starter recipe using the method above? Being newer to making homemade bone broth, it’s a lot more comforting to have an actual recipe to follow. Here is a more basic recipe, made with the leftover carcass/bones from a whole chicken:
- A 3-4 pound chicken carcass/bones
- 4 large carrots, cut into a couple pieces
- 3 celery stalks, cut into a couple pieces
- 1 large onion, cut into a couple pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- Few sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 gallon filtered water
- * See the "method" recipe above!
Now for that whole chicken in a crock pot recipe I promised:
- 1 Whole chicken, pasture-raised/organic (3-4 pound bird)
- Any seasonings you'd like
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- Remove any giblets from the inside of the chicken and clean rinse/pat dry the outside.
- Season your chicken with whatever you'd like! I typically just use salt and pepper, with some dried thyme, rosemary, and garlic powder. Just sprinkle it all over the outside of the bird.
- Add the chopped onion to the bottom of the crock pot. Then, place the chicken (breast side up) on top.
- Cover and cook for approximately 4-5 hours on high or 5-7 hours on low, or until the chicken is falling off the bone.
- After you carve all of the meat off of the chicken (you'll get enough meat for 6 or 7 meals!) save the carcass and all bones/ligaments for your bone broth!
- If you're not going to start the broth right away, just put them in a Zip Loc and freeze them until you're ready.