Every year, I dread the ending of summer…until fall arrives! In opposition to the fast pace energy of summer, this season brings a time for slowing down, turning inward, and being indoors more. The crisp, cool days and different smells in the air motivate me to get back into my kitchen and start cooking delicious, hearty meals.
One of the staples that I like to have on hand, is homemade bone broth. It is pretty easy to make and you can use it in a variety of soups and meals that call for stock. Did you know that bone broth is full of health benefits? Unlike the stock you find at the grocery store which can contain artificial color, preservatives and “natural flavoring”, this broth is pure and clean. And importantly, it is cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time, in order to pull the most nutrients from the bones.
Because bone broth is easy to digest, it helps heal the lining of the gut. It is full of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that help healthy bone formation and promote all over healing. It contains amino acids, that have anti-inflammatory effects. Bone broth also can help reduce joint pain and inflammation because it contains certain compounds, chondroitin and glucosamine, that are extracted from the boiled down cartilage. There is some truth to the old wives’ tale about eating chicken soup for a cold!
Basic Bone Broth
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 large onions, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley
2-3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
2-4 lbs meat or poultry bone
sea salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker set on high (or large pot on stovetop at low heat). Bring to a boil, then reduce the setting to low for 12-24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes! Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, and discard the waste.
After the broth cools, it will form a layer of fat on top. You can eat as is, but if you prefer you can remove it. Let your broth sit in the fridge for several hours, until the fat rises to the top and hardens. Scrape off the fat with a spoon, and your broth is ready to go. (Skimming off most of the fat is more important if you’re using bones from animals that are conventionally raised. This is because pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers in the grain they are fed are stored as toxins in the fat of these animals.)
I recommend seeking out pasture raised poultry or 100% grass-fed animal bones from a local source: your local butcher, a local farm, farmer’s market, a friendly hunter, your local health food store, or order bones online from U.S. Wellness Meats. You can use bones from just about any animal: beef, lamb, bison or buffalo, venison, chicken, duck, goose, turkey. Try to use a variety of bones and ask for marrow bones, oxtail, knuckle bones or “soup bones”. You can also use the bones after roasting a whole chicken, turkey, duck, or goose.
This process sounds more intimidating than it really is. Once you get everything assembled and in the pot, you can leave it and let heat and time do the work. If you are short on time, you can even omit all the veggies and still end up with a healthy bone broth. Give it a try and enjoy!