For centuries many cultures around the world have recognised the healing benefits of a nutritious home made beef, fish or chicken broth. Bone broths are very nurturing and are gaining popularity in the western world. Broths are a key component to heal your gut, while reducing inflammation and achy joints. They also help to boost the nervous and immune systems.
Bone broth is a traditional food rich in essential amino acids - the building blocks of proteins, collagen and gelatine- which help form connective tissues, and nutrients that support digestive functions, immunity and brain health. That’s right, it benefits every area of your body! It also makes a delicious base for soups and stews and inexpensive, so there is no reason not to try it!
In various different forms broths or stock/soup versions exist as stables in traditional diets across different countries and cultures. In Japan a pork bone broth makes the basis of ramen, Garudhiya in the Maldives is a traditional tuna-base broth, and in western culture chicken soup and beef tea have long been considered remedies to colds and illnesses. In 1800s England beef tea was not just consumed regularly in homes but was used as cure and remedy in sick wards, baffling nurses and doctors as to how it helped the conditions of patients they otherwise thought were lost-cause cases.
What we know now is this simmering releases proline, glycine, collagen and glutamine - healing compounds found in the bones and ligaments- making them into a drinkable form. The nutrients from bones can in fact help strengthen your own skeletal system.
The benefits of bone broth:
Boosted immune system
With its high concentration of minerals it’s no wonder that author of The Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson, calls it a superfood and notes that the marrow of the bone is excellent for strengthening your immune system. A study of people with auto-immune disorders done at Harvard showed bone broth has the power to relieve symptoms and is some cases people achieved a complete remission. We all need an immune boost, particularly in seasonal change and the unpredictable temperatures of Wellington spring!
Improved joint health
Joints are a common area of pain for many people so it’s important to keep them in the best of health to reduce pain and the chance of injury. Bone broth is a good source of glucosamine - commonly found in supplements to help with joint pain- and chondroitin sulphate, which has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis. It’s also an excellent source for natural collagen - a protein essential for joints it can help restore cartilage that diminishes as we age.
Improved bone strength
Following the old adage ‘eat what ails you’ can really help your bones. Phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and gelatine, essential for bone strength all seep out from the bones into the drinkable broth providing you with the building blocks for healthy bones, relieving pressure from ageing joints, supporting healthy bone mineral density and again reducing the chance of injury.
Restored gut health
A cup of bone broth a day does wonders for gut imbalances. The gelatine in bone broth, helps to restore the strength of the gut lining; fights food sensitivities (including wheat and dairy) and supports the growth of probiotics in the gut. All up bone broth is perfect for supporting healthy digestive function, soothing and restoring the gut.
Several studies have shown that the glycine in bone broth helps people to sleep better and improves memory!
With all these benefits, it’s time to get boiling that bone broth! You can make chicken, fish and beef bone broths at home in a slow cooker or on the stove top. It's quite simple!: Just add any veggies that are getting a bit tired at the bottom of the fridge. At home we use fennel bulbs, celeriac, celery, leeks, carrots, whole onions and garlic.
Try this beef bone broth recipe:
3 Litres of water
1kg of bones from a healthy source - we recommend Common Sense Organics for frozen organic beef bones.
1 onion - you can leave the skin on for it's flavour
2 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 chicken feet -provides extra gelatine, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, additional herbs or spices to taste, 2 cloves of garlic (for the last 30 minutes of cooking).
You’ll also need:
Large stock pot or slow cooker
1. (Optional) If you have time, raw bones can be roasted beforehand to add flavour -in the oven for 30 mins at 180°C.
2. Put the bones in a large stock pot. Pour cold water over the bones - it should be enough to cover. Add the vinegar and then let the bones sit for 20-30 mins.
3. Roughly chop and add the vegetables (excluding the garlic and parsley). Add salt, pepper, spices, herbs and chicken feet.
4. Bring the broth to a boil, when vigorous reduce to a simmer.
5. Allow it to simmer for 8 hours, checking it every 20 mins for the first 2 hours and scooping off froth or foam that forms on the surface.
6. In the last 30 minutes, add the garlic and parsley. (optional)
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Use a fine metal strainer to remove all the pieces of bone and vegetable. You can eat the bones or, if soft enough (and your blender is strong enough), you may blend and add them.
6. When cool enough, store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.
Warm, healthy and delicious on its own and versatile as a base for soups and stews. Enjoy!