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Making bone broths should be an activity in every home. Our great-grandparents made these nourishing concoctions regularly, and by doing so used every part of an animal and stretched their food resources.
Bone broth contains many important nutrients that support good health. Some benefits include:
- Bone broth is one of the best sources of absorbable calcium, especially for those who cannot tolerate dairy foods or who do not consume dairy as part of their home culture.
- Beef broth, chicken broth and fish broth are good sources of magnesium.
- Bone broth is a good source of sodium. Sodium is important for many body and cellular functions, such as adrenal gland health, water balance regulation, muscle contraction and expansion, and maintaining a proper acid-alkaline balance in the body.
- Bone broth that includes chicken or calf feet is a good source of silicon. Silicon is a very important nutrient for supporting strong and flexible bones, healthy cartilage, connective tissue, skin, hair and nails. Silicon also helps to protect the body from aluminum toxicity.
- Bone broth is a good source of iodine, potassium and other important trace minerals that are easy to assimilate.
- Bone broth helps to support the immune system and provide the body with resistance to infections diseases.
Broth Versus Stock
For the most part, the words “broth” and “stock” are used interchangeably in culinary applications, but there is a difference. Broth often incorporates leftovers of various kinds, such as from a roasted chicken eaten for dinner. Stock requires more of a prescribed formula, and is made regularly in the traditional kitchen to become the base of sauces and soups.
Other differences between the two are that stock generally incorporates more bone, and broth incorporates more meat. Stock has a more gelatinous texture and will be clearer in appearance. Broth is thinner and has a cloudier appearance.
It might be tempting in busy times to buy canned stocks and broths from the local grocery store. But these usually contain many unhealthy ingredients that you probably do not want to be ingesting or feeding to your family. These include MSG and other excitotoxins that are harmful to the body, especially to the brain.
Tips for Making Bone Broth
- Always begin with cold water. This allows the fibers of the ingredients to open slowly and release their flavorful juices into the broth. The broth should be simmered after reaching an optimal temperature to promote clarity of the broth.
- Be sure to skim the liquid as the impurities float to the top during simmering.
- Adding vinegar or acidic wine during the cooking process helps to draw out important minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
- Boiling down stocks will concentrate their flavor, producing a sauce that is useful for many culinary applications.
- You can tell if your stock contains enough gelatin by letting it chill in the refrigerator, where it should thicken into a gel-like liquid. If it is not thick enough after chilling, you can boil it down to reduce it further.
Stock will keep in the refrigerator for five days (it can be re-boiled if you have passed this time frame by a few days), and in the freezer for several months. Any containers of stock should be labeled with the date made and a description of contents.
Chicken Broth Recipe
- 2-3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings (free-range chickens are best)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
- 4 quarts cold water
- Optional: ½ teaspoon thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 12 peppercorns
- Place the chicken into a large pot, along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the parsley). Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the ingredients at this time will yield more minerals from the bones into your broth.
- Bring everything to a boil and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
- Skim off all scum as it rises to the top of the liquid throughout the cooking process.
- Add the parsley approximately 10 minutes before the broth is done cooking.
- Once the stock is done, place a sieve over a large bowl (line it with some clean cheesecloth if needed), and carefully pour the broth into the sieve so that it drains into the bowl below. The cooked chicken meat can be used for salads or ethnic dishes. Discard the remaining solid matter.
What are your best tips for making bone broth? Share your advice in the section below: