The history of bone broth dates back to ancient times. Almost every culture throughout time has enjoyed some form of this ancient nutrition for sustenance and for its medicinal qualities.
In ancient Chinese medicine, drinking bone broth was used as a digestive aid to promote health benefits like gut health, kidney health, build blood, immune system function, and support qi.
Matzo ball soup, nicknamed “Jewish penicillin” for its anecdotal healing properties, has been a staple food source in Jewish homes for hundreds of years. While the anecdotal evidence of its medicinal qualities has been known for generations, even modern medicine has discovered the healing benefits of matzo ball soups and other forms of bone broth. In fact, in a 2000 study, chicken soup was found to inhibit upper-respiratory inflammation and reduce the effect that a virus such as the common cold has on the body.
What Exactly Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is a nutrient-dense liquid that is made by simmering bones and joints of animals for extended periods of time, resulting in a “superfood” broth full of vitamins, minerals, vital proteins, gut-healing collagen, and chondroitin. The resulting collagen production is made up of scores of essential amino acids such as arginine, glucosamine, proline, glutamine, and glycine, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In addition to lowering inflammation, glycine also aids in digestion by stimulating the production of stomach acids to help conditions like leaky gut. This allows our bodies to more efficiently digest the food we eat and fully absorb the nutrients contained in our food.
The importance of bone broth collagen to our overall health and wellness is difficult to overstate. Collagen is a vitally important protein, responsible for providing the building blocks for connective tissue, ligaments, skin, and bones. Collagen is an important building block of much of the human body, including the gut. The concentration of vital amino acids in collagen is what makes it so essential for building a strong intestinal wall, sealing nutrients in the gut and allowing nutrients to be digested and absorbed by the body. Healing and sealing the gut also keeps toxins and bacteria out of your bloodstream and reduces the likelihood of an inflammatory immune response.
Bone broth can be made with any type of bones. The most popular options are:
While the main premise of cooking bone broth is the low and slow simmering, larger bones such as beef and pork will be simmered longer than bones from smaller animals such as chicken, duck, or fish.
How Is Bone Broth Prepared?
It may sound complex, but bone broth is surprisingly easy to make. One of the easiest and most popular ways to make bone broth is in a crockpot. Who doesn’t love their slow cooker? Using a crockpot to make bone broth allows you to make a large quantity of bone broth at once, and requires less oversight and effort than using a stovetop.
Focus on Ingredients First
First, you’ll need to find a source for organic, grass-fed animal bones. The quality of the ingredients you use to make your bone broth is of utmost importance. Remember that the purpose of the low and slow cooking time of bone broth is to draw as much goodness out of the bones as possible. The longer you simmer your bone broth, the richer it will be in trace minerals, vitamins, and bone broth collagen.
If your ingredients are sub-par, not only will the bones lack the high quantity of nutrients that you’re looking to obtain from your bone broth, but you also run the risk of having pesticide or hormone residue present from low-quality grain feed or factory farming practices.
So, again, the first step – get good bones.
In addition to organic and grass-fed bones, you’ll want to compile the following ingredients:
- Veggies such as carrots, onions, and celery (you can use most vegetables or vegetable scraps, but you’ll want to stay away from brassica vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, as they can give your bone broth a bitter flavor)
- Fresh or dried herbs (as with most things, fresh is best! But use what you have on hand.)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Filtered hot water
You can also add fresh peppercorns and bay leaves for an added savory flavor to your beef bone broth or chicken bone broth.
Timing Is Everything
When it comes to bone broth, what really sets bone broth apart from regular chicken broth or stock is the amount of time it is simmered. When you make bone broth in a crockpot, you’ll want to simmer it on low heat for 12-24 hours.
The longer your ingredients are simmered, the more nutrient-dense the resulting bone broth will be. And really, that’s what makes bone broth so special. Some of the nutrients obtained, such as bone broth collagen, are largely absent from the modern diet. This is because unlike historical cultures, who cooked and ate pretty much the entire animal to avoid waste, our modern society tends to focus only on the “muscle meats” (think chicken breast or steak filet). While these cuts of meat are undoubtedly delicious, it’s the parts of the animal such as the joints, connective tissues, feet, and bones that contain the highest quantities of collagen.
We’re willing to bet that the thought of sitting down to a plate of connective tissue or chicken feet doesn’t appeal to most people. Bone broth provides a delicious and easy way to obtain crucial nutrients such as bone broth collagen, in a much more appetizing fashion than our ancestors used to!
Putting Everything Together
Once you have all of your ingredients, and the time to spare, making bone broth in your crockpot is super easy. You’ll want to soak your bones in filtered water and apple cider vinegar to start. This helps break down the bones to ensure that the maximum amount of nutrients are released during the cooking process. For about 2 pounds of bones, you’ll want to include about 10 cups of filtered water.
Once your bones have soaked, add your other ingredients – leaving the skin on the garlic, onions, carrots, etc., throw your herbs on top, and voila! Set the timer on your crockpot to anywhere between 12 and 24 hours depending on how much time you have, and get ready to enjoy delicious, wholesome bone broth once it’s finished cooking.
If I Don’t Want to Make My Own Bone Broth?
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own bone broth, don’t worry! Bone broth has become so popular in the last few years that there are now several options for store-bought or online ordered bone broth. As with homemade, ingredients matter. If you plan to buy ready-made bone broth, make sure that your source uses the highest quality ingredients.
As with many products, once something becomes popular in the marketplace, many companies pop up wanting to obtain a piece of the pie. Not all bone broth companies are created equal. You’ll want to look for a company that prides themselves on quality over quantity, to get a high-quality bone broth that’s as close to homemade as possible. Two of our favorite companies are The Osso Good Co. and Flavor Chef. Both use small-batch processing and the highest quality ingredients to produce a bone broth that’s as close to homemade as you can get.
For even greater convenience, The Osso Good Co. offers delivery right to your door, and you can even sign up for a subscription that gives you recurring delivery without you having to lift a finger.