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Bone Broth: Superfood or Superdud?

Updated on March 28, 2015

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.

The beginning of a great pot of bone broth.
The beginning of a great pot of bone broth.

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

  1. Bones should be cooked on a "barely there" simmer. Do not boil.
  2. 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.
  3. Chicken bones may not gel because of the diet of the battery hens. Organically raised, free-range chicken carcasses will make broth that gels.
  4. Try adding a few chicken feet to a pot of simmering chicken bones for the extra gelatin they contain.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Bone broth lasts approx. one week in the refrigerator and can be added to anything - soup, sauce, gravy.
  11. 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.

A great gelled broth.  Notice the fat on top that can be used or removed.
A great gelled broth. Notice the fat on top that can be used or removed.

Time to Weigh In

Bone Broth: Superfood or Superdud?

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    • profile image

      pippap 21 months ago

      Thanks for dropping by the article again.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 21 months ago from The Beautiful South

      OK! I watched the video so I have my vinegar answer, will teach us to absorb the whole article and not be in such a hurry!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 21 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I have made this at least twice since last being here and just finished off a batch last night so full of veggies and flavor I had to seal up a few jars for later. Glad I checked back because I forgot the vinegar. I know it is good for you and I drink it raw but what is the point of it in the soup? I mean anything specific?

      Also wanted to add I do think it is a great idea to take a strainer through these bones because many bones that look big and solid can have small pieces work loose you never knew where there. Happened to me on the first batch and I just decided to double check at the last minute and found two bones sized to possible choke or do someone some damage! Maybe to teeth if nothing more. I have a large strainer now I can poor it through easy and not miss a thing.

      I am sharing this great nutritional information! Thanks again for sharing with us.

    • profile image

      pippap 21 months ago

      Thanks for the comment. Bone broth is so easy to make and so nourishing.

    • ankit kharola profile image

      lance roll 21 months ago from 1175 Park Center Drive Suite E Vista

      A few days ago I also made a bone broth. It is very easy to become Healthy recipe.

    • pippap profile image

      pippap 2 years ago from Surrey, BC

      I'm sure you will love it. Thanks for reading.

    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 2 years ago

      I don't know if bone broth is a superfood, but you've definitely given me incentive to get my wife to make some.

    • pippap profile image

      pippap 2 years ago from Surrey, BC

      Thanks Larry. You don't know what you're missing!

      Jackie: Thanks for the comment. Better late than never. Keep enjoying your soup.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I am trying to use this; I think it would be a very healthy thing to do. I did this as a child because I loved making soup and my mom would not let me use any meat to possibly waste it and I am sure she saw the bone as useless except for maybe a little flavor! We live and learn.


    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I've been hearing so much about bone lately on food networks. Sounds interesting, but I'm not a dog, and have a little trouble getting excited about eating a bone:-)

      Very interesting hub.

    • pippap profile image

      pippap 2 years ago from Surrey, BC

      I also use beef marrow bones. They are also a treat for my dog. She just loves chewing on them and getting some of that bone goodness herself. However, if I'm not going to use bones immediately, I freeze them for later. Glad to hear you're a bone broth fan.

    • profile image

      Adam 2 years ago

      when i make bone broth i just use the bones from whole chickens or turkeys i have bought.....super easy. If i am not going to use bones right away i freeze them for when i am ready to make it.

    • pippap profile image

      pippap 2 years ago from Surrey, BC

      Thanks for your kind words. One of my favourite broths is ox tail soup. The joints make it so thick and nourishing.

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 2 years ago from Maine

      We have many immigrants in our city so things like the feet from foul and marrow bones are difficult to find. People from many other countries already know how tasty and healthy these things are. I have always loved marrow bones and have surprisingly happy memories from the few times my mother made Ox-tail soup when I was a kid. Bravo for bringing us this info and recipe! Shared and voted up!

    • pippap profile image

      pippap 2 years ago from Surrey, BC

      Thanks for the comment. I adore bone broth and find it extremely restorative for both my body and my soul.

    • Susan Trump profile image

      Susan Trump 2 years ago from San Diego, California

      I've been dancing around bone broth building for a few weeks. You've motivated me now. The issue of Leaky Gut is real and I do write about it and conditions that benefit from bone broth. I'll start this week. Thanks.