There’s been a lot of hullabaloo in the media about bone broth lately. A quick internet search turned up a handful articles about bone broth published in just the last two months in such major publications as The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, UK’s The Guardian, and Business Insider. Brodo, which just opened in November in the East Village in New York, is offering a variety of bone broths by the trendy-looking coffee cup through its walk-up window. Bone broth has even become one of the most important components of the prescribed diet for the L.A. Lakers!
So what’s the big deal anyway? Is it the next food that will sit proudly next to açaí berries, coconut water, and chia seeds on the list of “must-have” nutritional superfoods?
I hesitate to recommend “superfoods” because I encourage a balanced approach to eating, taking nutrients from a diversity of seasonal whole foods to ensure the incorporation of a full spectrum of nutrients. We all know there isn’t one silver bullet to great health and longevity. But…bone broth is something that I would recommend to almost anyone without hesitation as one of the most beneficial additions to any diet.
As the bones are slowly simmered for hours, the collagen in the bones and other connective tissue melts into gelatin, which is very effective in the promotion of gut health. Since it’s rich in the amino acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin that make up collagen, it also promotes healthy skin and joints. It also contains a large proportion of the amino acid, glycine, which acts as inhibitory neurotransmitter to aid in sleep and relaxation.
Bones are the main storehouse for the minerals in the body, and the long cooking time for bone broth allows these important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, to leach into the broth.
People have been consuming bone broth since they started cooking and eating animals. In the vane of “nose to tail” eating, no parts of the animal went to waste, and broth was made from the “scraps” that were not eaten. These scraps included bones.Just some examples of bone broth in traditional cooking:
Vietnamese Pho: The foundation of this delicious beef noodle soup is a broth made from simmering oxtail, beef shanks, and necks with onions, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, clove, and cardamom for many hours.
Bouillabaisse: the heads, tails, and other trimmings from the fish are simmered to make the broth for this traditional Provençal fish stew.
Chinese Hot Pot: As most of the other components of the hot pot are raw or minimally prepared, the broth, made from chicken, beef, or pork parts is stewed for many hours to develop the rich flavors of this dish.
Matzo Ball Soup: Also known as “Jewish Penicillin,” chicken broth made from simmering chicken parts with onions, carrots, celery, and parsley is the supportive foil for the matzo balls.
Lauya: Pork knuckle bones and pig’s feet are simmered with vegetables for this country-style Filipino soup.
Chicken Foot Stew: A Jamaican stew in which chicken feet are simmered with garlic, herbs, and habañero peppers.
Tonkotsu Ramen: Pig trotters and bones are boiled for sometimes days to achieve the rich, flavorful broth for this Japanese noodle soup.
Gam Ja Tang: A Korean soup made from stewing the pork spine or ribs with vegetables, scallions, hot peppers, and sesame seeds.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Used for their restorative properties, bone broths have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost immunity and treat imbalances that underlie illness.
Aside from the numerous salubrious benefits of bone broth, it’s also a boon to the culinary world. As you can see, a well-developed stock is of utmost importance to producing innumerable soups and stews as well as sauces. The gelatin in the stock contributes to the rich mouth-feel of a well-made sauce or gravy.
Want to learn more about bone broths, how to make them gelatinous, and how to incorporate them into delicious soups?
Sign up for the Soups, Stocks, & Bone Broths Cooking Class coming up on Saturday, January 31, 5-8 pm at Berkeley Kitchens. Hope to see you there!
Give it a try!
2-3 lbs beef, chicken, or pork bones or combination
1 large onion, cut into 1” pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1” pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1” pieces
1 bay leaf
any other vegetable scraps (e.g. parsley stems, leek greens, carrot tops)
2 T neutral-flavored vinegar (white, apple cider) or lemon juice
Add bones and vinegar to a stockpot, cover with cold water with 2 inches of headroom. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to a low simmer. Uncover and skim any foamy, grey scum that has surfaced. Add vegetables.
Let simmer for 6 to 24 hours, making sure there is enough water in the pot and adding more if necessary.
Pour the stock through a metal strainer into another pot or large bowl. For faster cooling, immediately divide into quart, pint, and/or half pint jars. Label and refrigerate or freeze for later use.