Bone Broth: Superfood or Superdud?
Bone Broth: Overpriced Soup Stock or Nourishing Broth
In New York it sells for up to $9.00 a cup. With the praises of bone broth being trumpeted far and wide by such luminaries as the New York Times; renowned chefs Tom Colicchio, Marco Canora and Ken Yamada; television personality Al Roker, it has attained a super status of its own.
New York chef, Marco Canora, opened a takeaway annex to his restaurant. He named the addition Brodo which is Italian for broth. He started selling chicken, beef and turkey broths with a side of bone marrow, ginger juice or roasted garlic puree (yummy!) available for the discerning, committed consumer. It was only a matter of weeks before people were forming long lines outside his little annex and this, along with its soaring popularity attracted massive coverage by the US Press.
Bone broth is also extremely popular in Los Angeles which has a large number of followers of the Paleo diet. The broth has become so popular that delivery services have popped up exclusively to take the meaty liquid to customers who don't want to leave home. And, the popularity doesn't end there. Bone broth has become such a popular health food that pet food companies have jumped on the band wagon making products with added bone broth for both dogs and cats.
Bone Broth or Soup Stock - What's The Difference
At first blush, bone broth and soup stock would appear to be to be a case of "a rose by any other name". But, if there is a difference except in price - what is it?
The difference is in the preparation. Soup stock is usually a combination of some bones, maybe some meat, and aromatic vegetables. This is simmered in a stock pot with water for between 2-5 hours resulting in a nutritious, protein-packed stock. The stock is filtered removing all solids and leaving only the liquid which can be made into soup immediately or refrigerated for later use. Stock is usually not seasoned until it is used.
Bone broth usually consists of bones (first and foremost) with the possibility of added meat and/or aromatic vegetables. Large beef marrow bones are usually roasted in the oven for one hour before adding to stock pot. This improves the flavour of the bones. This is then simmered in water - to which 2 tablespoons of vinegar has been added - for at least 12 hours. I find that 36 hours gives a richer, more complex flavour. The aromatics, if used, should be removed from the water after 3 hours or added to the pot in last 3 hours of cooking. Any longer, they tend to impart a slight bitter taste to the broth. Seasoning is added in the last few hours of cooking.
If broth is to be consumed as is, it should be filtered through a very fine mesh or coffee filter. If the broth is to become soup, whether to filter or not is up to the cook.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
There is a South American proverb that says, "A good broth can resurrect the dead". Nothing is as restorative to both the body and mind as a good cup of broth.
Bone broth contains valuable minerals in a form your body can easily absorb and use, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals. It is the acidic vinegar that leeches all the goodness from the bones into the broth. After simmering, the bones should actually be less dense than when the broth was started. A good broth will gel so completely on cooling that you could place it on a board and slice it like a roast. This is the collagen that has been coaxed from the bone.
There is a condition called "Leaky Gut Syndrome" in which the lining of the digestive tract and bowels are permeable allowing undigested food particles, digestive juices and other products of digestion to leave the tract and enter the body. This happens normally in the human body - particularly in the bowel; but, Leaky Gut Syndrome allows too much of the tract contents to bridge the tract lining and enter the rest of the body.
Bone broth contains a large amount of gelatin that acts as a hydrophilic colloid helping to prevent liquids from leaving the tract improving digestion; and, overall health.
The gelatin also aids in the formation and maintenance of healthy hair, nails, skin and bone. The chondroitin and glucosamine present aid in the healthy development of joint cartilage alleviating the pain of arthritis and inflammation in many sufferers. The calcium and magnesium promote healthy, strong bones.
Making Bone Broth
Bone Broth Trivia
- Bones should be cooked on a "barely there" simmer. Do not boil.
- Beef bones should be a combination of jointy bones (ox tails, ribs, etc.) and meaty bones (marrow bones, soup bones, etc.) for maximum flavour and health benefits.
- Chicken bones may not gel because of the diet of the battery hens. Organically raised, free-range chicken carcasses will make broth that gels.
- Try adding a few chicken feet to a pot of simmering chicken bones for the extra gelatin they contain.
- A crock pot or slow cooker are the ideal vehicles to cook the broth. They don't require the supervision a stock pot on the stovetop does.
- Any bone can be made into broth. I keep a plastic bag in my freezer in which I keep my collection of unrelated bones. I put all stray bones in it. If I just have two pork chop bones, they go in the bag. If I have just one leg of duck, the bones go in the bag. As soon as my bag has enough bones to make a broth, I put them all together into my slow cooker and make a healing, delicious soup.
- Bone soup is a favourite around the world. In Korea - it's Korean Bone Soup; in Vietnam - it's Pho; in China - it's Longevity Soup; in India - it's Mutton Bone Rasam. It would seem that every country, every culture has their own form of bone broth.
- Bone broth is very inexpensive to make; and, yet is so good for you. Depending on where you live, you might even be able to get some form of soup bone free of charge.
- One of the reasons bone broth came about is our ancestors desire to honour the life of the animal by using every single part of it.
- Bone broth lasts approx. one week in the refrigerator and can be added to anything - soup, sauce, gravy.
- Bone broth is excellent in the sick room. It is highly nutritious and incredibly satisfying to drink encouraging the patient to consume more. The broth is easily digestible so the nutrition goes straight to work battling the illness without upsetting the stomach.