There’s a reason your mother told you to eat Chicken soup when you were sick. Not only does the warm salty soup soothe your aching body, but there are many nutritional benefits to adding bone broth, especially homemade, to your diet. When I first read about making homemade bone broth I immediately thought of old grannies cooking away during winter time. However, when I realized how easy it is to make, not to mention all the nutritional benefits, I started making it part of my cooking routine.
Why bone broth?
This mineral rich liquid is made by boiling the bones of healthy animals and adding vegetables, herbs and spices. Broth is a staple in many countries as it is cheap and nutrient-dense. It is an excellent source of minerals and is known to boost the immune system (hence, why you eat chicken soup when you are sick) and improve digestion. Due to the high collagen content (because of the bones) it is known to support joints, hair, skin and nails. Broth is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital in healthy connective tissue (joints and ligaments). For a more in depth look into these two amino acids and their beneficial properties to our bodies check out the paleo mom.
Where do I get bones?
You want to make sure that the bones are from healthy animals since you are going to be getting the minerals in concentrated form. I have used Trader Joe’s Free Range whole chicken in the past, which sells for about $2.50 per pound and has great flavor. Although, I am currently looking for a local free range chicken farmer to buy from.
The easiest way to obtain these bones is to roast a whole chicken and then save the bones for your broth. When I cook a chicken I will save the carcass and put it directly in the crockpot with filtered water to begin making broth. If you are not making it right away, you can put the animal carcass in a bag and place in the freezer until you are ready to make your broth.
Another way to get bones is from a local farmer or butcher (again just make sure it is a good source). We buy our beef and pork from a trusted farmer about 30 minutes from us and they sell animal bones for $3 per pound. It would be worth it to ask if they have leftover bones as some may just give them to you. I haven’t made beef broth yet, but I’m looking forward to it after the next time we make it to the farm!
Chicken Broth How-to:
- carcass and bones of one chicken
- 12 cups of filtered water
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks including tops, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- a couple teaspoons sea salt & pepper
After you have roasted your chicken and eaten and saved the meat, take the whole carcus and place in a large pot. Add filtered water and vinegar and allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
After bones, water, and vinegar have been allowed to sit, add in carrots, celery, and onion and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn down to simmer and allow to sit for about 24 hours. I have read multiple times that it is just fine to leave the stove on during the night because it is at such a low temperature. However, we have a gas stove and it made me nervous, so after it had been cooking about 12 hours during the day, I turned it off right before I went to bed around 11pm and then turned it back on right when I woke up around 7pm. It stayed so hot that it didn’t hurt to have it off for 8 hours.
During the last 30 minutes of cooking add the parsley, garlic, salt & pepper. Now, you are ready to strain!
I use a metal strainer over a medium sized pot, then discard the bones and veggies. This makes 8-10 cups of broth. I don’t use 10 cups of broth quick enough, so I freeze it in medium sized ziplocks and save until I need it. Just make sure the broth has cooled completely before you pour it into the bags!
What can you do with your broth?
Since cooler weather is approaching, it is great to have on hand as a remedy for colds and flu. It’s also a great immune booster as a prevention. Drink a cup of warm broth and ward off any sickness. Even in cases of the stomach bug or vomiting, it can calm the stomach.
Broth is great as a flavorful liquid in soups, stews or sauces. I like to use broth instead of water when cooking quinoa and it gives such a great flavor. You can also roast or saute vegetables in it.
How do you use broth? Will you try making your own?