Seems like bone broth is getting a lot of media these days... here, here and here. There's even entire books devoted to bone broth! Which is fine by me! Frankly, I don't care if it is a craze or not. I do know that bone broth has been around for many, many years and probably arose from trying to get as much nutrition out of food as possible and without letting anything go to waste.
In fact, broth has been touted to be a healing potion as far back as the days of Hippocrates. Bone broth, the kind you make at home, is extraordinarily rich in nutrients, namely minerals and amino acids and collagen. Bone broth is rich in arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports the body's detoxification processes and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other compounds within the body. Proline, especially when paired with Vitamin C, supports good skin health. Bone broth is also rich in gelatin which improves collagen status and also supports skin health. Gelatin also supports digestive health which is why bone broth plays a critical role in therapeutic diets such as GAPS, SCD, Paleo and AIP. Ever hear that chicken soup is like "Jewish Penicillin"? There's a reason for that! Chicken broth inhibits neutrophil migration; that is, it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.
But here's the thing, while bone broth has a ton of wonderful nutrients in it, amino acids, collagen, some minerals, etc. there's one thing that people make an assumption about and that is that "bone broth contains a lot of calcium". Fascinating to learn in this AHS 14 Presentation by Kaayla Daniel, Ph. D, that bone broth only contains calcium if there are lots of vegetables cooked with the bones! Pretty interesting huh?
For most people, they think it's a hassle to make or that you have to use scary ingredients (like chicken feet). But really, Im here to tell you that its super simple and with a few tricks I have collected over the years, making bone broth is easy to do and easy to use! No need to fret about the bones any more than making sure you are sourcing bones from pasture raised animals. If you don't know how to make bone broth, I use the technique outlined at Zenbelly's site.
Tips and Tricks for Simple Broth
- Save all the bones! This is pretty basic, but if you cook entire chickens, turkeys, or cuts of meat with bones in them, just save them. I have two plastic bags in the freezer that I dump all the bones into: one for poultry and one for beef/pork/lamb bones. I will toss the bones (not picked clean mind you - I use the extra meaty bits for flavor) into the bags and save them until I have enough for making a batch.
- Save the veggie bits too! The veggies, as we know now, provide a lot of the minerals in broth. Plus they add a lot of flavor. If I have a bunch of coriander stems, carrot ends, broccoli stems when trimming my veg, then I will toss those in the freezer too to save for making a batch of bone broth! My friend Simone over at Zenbelly does this too!
- Use Soup Socks! What? What the heck is a Soup Sock? Seriously makes the whole bone broth process super simple. I stick my bag-o-bones, my bag-o-veg and some smashed cloves of garlic into a soup sock (basically a huge net "stocking" to hold all the goodies in), tie it up and plop it into my Instant Pot (see #4). When the broth is done, I simply pull out the one large "sock" of stuff in one step - no fishing for bones with tongs, no ladling into a strainer... Saves a ton time.
- Instant Pot - As if you didn't already have reasons to get one of these! Bottom line, you can make super broth in 2-4 hours instead of 12-36 hours! Its like getting a Tardis without the whole "its bigger on the inside" bit. Plus the Instant Pot is a true kitchen multi-tasker and totally worth it! I pressure cook my broth about 4 hours each time I make it.
- Reduce - Simone (Zenbelly) is a self-proclaimed (and rightfully so) Bone Broth Jedi Master. If you read her tutorial, take note of her reduction step. This is the key to making the most gelatin-laden savory "jello" out there. When my batch is done in the Instant Pot, I switch modes to low sauté, this gives me a nice simmer and I let it reduce for 30-60 minutes. Perfect gelling every time.
- Portion Freeze - I often times can't drink/use as much broth as I make in a batch. And instead of wasting it, I freeze it. But freezing in mason jars is impractical as I sometimes only need 1/3 cup for braising, etc. And then I found this ice cube tray that makes about 1/3c pucks. So I freeze up my batch into 20-30 of these pucks (bag-o-pucks) that I keep in the freezer. (Do you see the trend here? bag-o-everything!) I pop out ~4 of them to make a mug of broth, or use one as a braising liquid when cooking veg later in the week.