Don’t be afraid of the bone broth!
‘Go home and make a bone broth!’ I say to people with all manner ailments, deficiencies, spazzy guts. They’ve come into the store with a wonky knee, searching for glucosamine, fish oil, some bizarro toad extract that was spruiked last night on A Current Affair. Supplements have their place (yadda ya, diplomatic statement about the role of targeted nutrients…), but why ignore a traditional, tasty, whole-body tonic that you can make at home for around 4 bucks? Bone broth is certainly an underdog superfood. It’s our unfortunate looking hero, all battered and lumpy, sporting last-years latex and a patchwork cape. It ain’t glamorous. In fact, its hacked up, cast-off, grisle-laden bits o beast. Broiled. Stewed. Leeched of goodness. No ORAC value in sight. It wasn’t transported in the ruck-sack of a Peruvian llama to find it’s way to you, at $70 a pop. But damn, if it isn’t the most nutrient rich elixir in the world then my name isn’t Bruce. (Hey Bruce, quit stealing my bit!)
When I utter the bi-syllabic duo, ‘Bone. Broth.’ folks cock their head quizzically.
What in the name of Acai berry are you on about? Do you mean a stock? Yes. But not of the masterfood variety (MSGfood more like).
Little do they know (myself included, circa 3 months ago), that a generation or two ago most country folk, farming households and families doing it tough would have a big soup stock constantly on the stovetop. Bones are cheap, and having stock on hand to use as a base for casseroles, broths and gravies was both economical and superbly nutritious.
But whyyyyyyyyyyy should you take it upon yourself to brew up a big bag of body parts? (especially after I’ve painted it in such a delicious light!)
I’ll sell it to you; punchy salesman-like.
Minerals. The whole bloody spectrum. Marrow. Immune support. Glutamine. Collagen. Yes, the kind that makes our cheekbones plump like a self-important pigeon.
Bone is a highly mineralized tissue, it has to be.
When you stew it with an acid medium (apple cider vinegar works a treat), it starts to release all manner of goodies such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulphate and fluoride – in forms your body knows (and relishes!).
Add on top of that all the fat and ligaments and connective tissue. This is where the collagen (containing proline & glycine) comes from that is so sensationally healing, benefits the cells of the gut wall (supplying glycosaminoglycans for the nerd-inclined) and will give you lips like Angelina. Like, ew.
It will help people with indigestion by stimulating proper gastric acid secretion, soothing ulcers, and benefiting cellulite on account of the building blocks supplied for healthy connective tissue. CELLULITE! … HELPS! WITH! You heard right, bone broth can potentially smooth over the ripply bits. Shove that in your pot and steam it.
Ok. Now you’re on board, I’ll hold your hand through the process. If you’re anything like me, new things are sometimes difficult to execute. My legs walk the same way to the grocer, my hands reach for the familiar cut of meat, my wallet has the exact amount of change for the bus ride home. No deviations. No scary new recipes, or foreign bits of cow.
But bubbling a broth is a paleo rite of passage…! Man/woman/chicken-up and shimmy on down to your nearest organic butcher. Organic is a must with meat. Grass-fed. Like, what bovines are meant to eat. How novel. Organic meat and bones are essential due to the high fat content – toxins and nastiness are stored there, and there’s no point creating a big slurry of hormones and unhappy cow hock now is there? Also, most importantly, organic grass-fed beings are allowed to roam about on pastured land, being the best beasts they can be without being subjected to the indescribable torture of factory farming. Yes, they still die to feed us, but once day a maggot will eat my eyeball and that will be ok too. (Post on ethics of meat-eating is in the works).
Back to the butcher. Ask the kind and bloodied assistant if they have bones to sell. Beef, lamb, chicken, we’ll take ‘em all. Mine are usually around $4 for a kilo or two. Can do.
Bring them home, squeal at the in-you-faceness of it all. (Making my first broth after 2 years of plant food was confronting, and involved a lot of delicate, nose-holding, pot-prancing, eyeball-screwing shenanigans. Now it’s old hat).
You will need a big mother pot. Something non-toxic, if you please. I have a lovely stainless steel one from a friend, but ceramic, copper (lined with stainless steel) and cast iron are brillo.
Some people roast the bones in the oven prior to boiling to give a better flavour. I just whack them in the pot like a simpleton. I fill the whole thing up with water (filtered if you’ve got it), add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and bring it to the boil. (For extra flavour, add roasted garlic, carrot, celery, onion, turmeric, bay leaves, peppercorns. You know the drill).
When it’s boiling, some scum will rise to the top which I usually, haphazardly, skim off. Then I turn the whole thing down onto the lowest of low, put a lid on it, and leave tha’ shit alone. You can boil it anywhere from 12-72 hours(chicken bones are less) – I tend to turn it off and on when I need to go to work and such, and pick off the bits of tender cooked meat at random intervals for snacking. Once it cools, a thick slab of fat will form on the top. Don’t be afraid, this is excellent cooking fodder – it’s called tallow. So you can either drink the broth as it’s cooking (a cup before bed with some Himalayan sea salt and pepper is an AMAZING sleep tonic), or wait til its completely done, store in jars or containers and refrigerate or freeze. I normally leave the solidified fat on til I’m ready to use it; it helps keep it fresh. Then I scoop it off and heat up the broth in a small saucepan, pour into a mug and season to taste. Fresh herbs on top are especially yummy.
Just don’t freeze in glass jars ok? I made that mistake. They will bust and you’ll have a well-nourished but sticky, messy freezer!
There you have it. Less scared? Feel up for the challenge?
Once you’ve got one on the go, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to have to big frothy animal carcass bouncing around on your stove top. Try and drink a cup a day, or before each meal if you’ve got tummy troubles. Persist, keep at it, and get that bone broth glow!
Over and out x