Bone broth… nourishing people since at least the Second Century B.C.

 

Lately it seems that everywhere I look online, someone is touting the benefits of bone broth. Maybe it’s because I spend much of my online time reading about food and wellness, but bone broth as a superfood is currently in the spotlight… and for good reason.

The first written documentation of bone broth being used medicinally was in the Second Century B.C. in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Ancient Chinese used bone broth to nourish kidneys, build blood, and support their general health.

As long as there was fuel for their fires, pretty much every ancestral culture had a pot of bone broth simmering.

There’s a reason chicken soup has always been thought of as a healing food when you’re sick… made the old-fashioned way of slow-simmering, it’s chock full of vitamins and minerals that help boost your immune system.

Broth and stock are far from the same creature, although they might be made of the same ingredients. Both can be started with meat, bones, vegetable and water, and simmered slowly to yield a pot of flavorful liquid to use as a base for soups, sauces, and other culinary creations.

Broth essentially is any liquid that has had meat or vegetables cooked in it, and is pretty thin.

Bone broth is similar to stock in that it always includes bones that have been simmered for an extended period to extract the gelatin and flavor from them. If your stock is thick like jelly, thank the collagen in the bones for that additional flavor and health benefit.

Collagen is especially beneficial for us humans. It is key in improving our skin and hair; reducing joint pain and degeneration; helping to heal leaky gut; boosting metabolism, muscle mass and energy output; strengthens nails, hair and teeth; improves liver health and protects cardiovascular health.

Once the bone broth is cool, remove the top layer of fat and discard or use for cooking.
Almost 10 cups of bone broth on my first try…

I recently added an Instant Pot to our kitchen appliances. My husband rolled his eyes when he saw that I purchased another kitchen contraption, until I said, “But we’ll be able to make bone broth in two hours instead of a day or two!” He was skeptical at first. A couple hours later, he approved of my addition to the appliance collection.

You can make chicken bone broth or beef bone broth and both have health benefits. Chicken bone broth will be higher in protein, even though the bones are less dense than beef bones.

In making bone broth, there are two types of bones you will want to look for: bones with meat, and bones with joints. The bones with joints are rich in cartilage and connective tissues. Look for chicken wings, necks and feet. Whole chicken carcasses work well, too. For beef bone broth, cow knuckles and ox tails. Ox tails are not from oxen, as the name insinuates… they are the tail bone of cows and have quite a bit of meat and collagen in the marrow.

I roasted our ox tails before putting them in the pot.

Roasted ox tails
I roasted the ox tails in a pan for added flavor.

Then, I added carrots, onion, celery and garlic, unpeeled and chopped just enough to fit in the pot. Some Himalayan salt, a bay leaf and a little apple cider vinegar to help extract the gelatin from the bones.

Veggies and water added to roasted ox tails
No need to peel the veggies – added nutrients are found in the skin!

Two hours of electric pressure cooking, and we were rewarded with thick, rich and delicious beef bone broth. I used the same bones (but not the vegetables, because reusing the vegetables will make the broth bitter) and it resulted in a slightly thinner but tasty broth.

I’ve also made chicken bone broth with an organic whole chicken after I deboned it, same added ingredients as the beef bone broth, and it was wonderful.

As the Greek physician Hippocrates, born in 460 BC said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth

3 pounds beef bones, or more to taste
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
cold water to cover
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher or Himalayan pink salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread beef bones out on baking sheet or in roasting pan and roast bones in the preheated oven until browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Place carrots, celery, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a slow cooker. Place roasted bones over vegetables; pour in enough cold water to cover bones. Add apple cider vinegar and salt.

Cook on Low for 18-72 hours (keep your eye on it). Pour broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and discard any strained solids. Broth can keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or frozen up to a year.

Instant Pot users: Use all the same ingredients. Select “broth” setting on your IP with High pressure, and change the time to 2 hours with a natural pressure release.

Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche.

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