Although it’s not in the least a new concept, bone broth is enjoying the headlines as the new kid on the block for the latest health food to have in your diet.
It’s become so trendy that there are bone broth pop up shops and bars appearing all across the globe!
Most people have heard the chicken soup is a traditional cure all, for convalescence and to restore health. Maybe you have a favourite family recipe that was handed down the generations. Well bone broth takes the health benefits of chicken soup to a whole new level!
Bone broth is full of nutrients which are very easy to digest and it is reported to boost healing. It’s also rich in collagen which is why it’s been likened to a natural alternative to botox! In fact, bone broth is packed full of amino acids, trace minerals and gelatin as well as the revered collagen. It is believed that these readily digested elements contribute to good digestion and gut repair, reduce inflammation, protect the joints, support the brain, improve hydration and promote healthy skin and hair.
Bone broth costs pennies to make and makes use of parts of the animal that might usually be thrown away. So it’s excellent if you’re looking to reduce food waste. Like it’s name suggests, you literally use the bones of animals such as a chicken carcass or beef bones. And yes, chicken feet and necks contribute some amazing health benefits, so it’s not one for the squeamish. (If you are not keen on making your own, there are companies who make it for you and sell it either as a liquid to use as is, or as a powder which you can rehydrate). If, however, you are following a paleo or keto diet, a good bone broth will be a staple part of your diet, so it’s worth making your own.
As you’ll be drawing all the nutrition from the bones, you want to source your bones from a reputable source. Ideally pasture fed or organic.
Here’s how to make bone broth at home using a slow cooker:
(for a 4 litre slow cooker – you can scale up or down, depending on which sized pot you’ll be using:)
1 1/2 kg beef bones – preferably knuckles or bones containing marrow fat
2 litres warm water (enough to cover the bones by an inch or so)
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt (or more, to taste)
Other optional ingredients include celery, carrots, herbs and spices etc. I tend to leave these out as the cooking time can make the vegetables go a bit funky, plus I use my broth as a base for other dishes, rather than a stand-alone drink.
Roast the bones for 1/2 an hour in the oven at around 180. This browns them and starts to release some of the juices
Once roasted for 30 minutes, place the bones in the slow cooker, add the water and vinegar and allow to sit for 30 minutes
Add the salt, and the optional ingredients if you are using them, then switch the slow cooker on low and leave for around 48 hours – yes, you read that right!
Strain the bones out (a nearby dog will love these!) into a clean bowl
Cool the broth as quickly as you can and put in the fridge – ideally overnight
The following day, the broth will have a thin layer of solid fat which you can take off before decanting the broth into containers. I like to freeze some of mine.
A good bone broth will be like not-quite-set jelly, but if it’s liquid, you can still use it and benefit from all those trace minerals.
The most confusing part about making bone broth for most people is how high it should simmer. Less is definitely more; you want the liquid barely moving. A (very poor – sorry!) snapshot I took here is the absolute maximum movement you’d want. Ideally it would be a bit less:
Bone broth will keep for about 5-7 days in the fridge and can be frozen for 3 months
Some people like to warm it up and sip neat. I don’t like this, so I use it instead of water when cooking rice, or in soups, stews and casseroles instead of shop bought stock cubes.
If you want to make chicken bone broth instead, use a couple of carcasses, plus around 4 feet if you can get hold of them. Chicken bone broth only needs cooking for 24 hours, and in my experience doesn’t turn as gelatinous as beef broth.