I have to confess that since living to Malaysia, there are a few things I’ve been missing. We don’t have an oven in my new home, so I’ve been missing roasting a chicken for dinner, and therefore, also my beloved bone broth.
I use my bone broth as a base for many of my meals. Not only is it delicious and gives great depth to the taste of the meal – be it a soup-based dish, a gravy to go with the roast or something like a chilli – it’s also highly nutritious. There’s a reason grandma would put on a pot of homemade chicken soup when someone got sick. And it’s also good for the soul.
But more than anything, bone broth is good for healing the gut. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, “All health begins in the gut,” and if nothing else, this is surely the reason to indulge in bone broth – apart from that it’s tastes so dang good, that is.
Why is our gut so important?
If you think about it, although our gut is inside our body, it’s exposed to the outside – in that, we bring things from the outside into our bodies through our gut. Hence, it is a barrier between the outside world and the rest of our body. Then, it also digests our food and absorbs nutrients. If we don’t keep our gut healthy, our digestion could be impaired and so could our ability to absorb those precious nutrients – which means that even if you’re eating all the right foods, you might not be getting benefit from them, because of a damaged or less than healthy gut lining.
Step up, bone broth, to keep you out of trouble.
Bone broth is packed full of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous and calcium. Then there’s collagen, gelatin, amino acids, and other compounds such as glucosamine. All these nutrients help to keep our skin and hair look amazing and to keep our joints healthy, while also being healing to our gut and throughout our body. Add to that the immunity boosting properties of a good cup of broth and it’s no wonder this has been praised for centuries.
The biggest difference between bone broth and regular stock is that bone broth is cooked for a much longer period of time – for 12-24 hours, and even up to 72 hours. It’s this lengthy cooking time that draws out all the goodness from the bones. You can use the bones from chicken, turkey, pork or beef, even fish, and it’s best to use bones from organically raised or grass-fed animals to ensure the highest quality of nutrients possible.
How to Make Bone Broth
It’s ridiculously easy to make, especially if you use a slow-cooker and you can then pretty much set it and forget it – until it’s done.
I find the easiest way to make bone broth is to start with a cooked chicken – hence my roast chicken dinners. But you could just as easily get chicken carcasses and use those instead. If using a roast or cooked chicken, simply pull the cooked meat off the chicken and serve it for dinner. Store any leftover meat in the fridge to use later on in a salad or use it for a quick chicken soup-based meal with the bone broth you’re about to make.
Put everything that’s left – all the bones and any remaining bits and pieces of meat – into a large pot that has a lid, or into your slow cooker. Make sure that your pot or slow cooker can hold enough water to fully cover the bones by about a couple of inches. Fill with plenty of cold water. The more water you add, the more broth you’ll get in the end and leave an inch of gap at the top or you risk the liquid bubbling over.
Next, add a good splash of apple cider vinegar to the pot. This step is optional. If you don’t have the vinegar in your pantry don’t worry about it. You can add a splash of red wine or white vinegar if you’d like. The vinegar helps get all the minerals out of the bones and into the broth. But again, it’s OK if you don’t have it. Your broth will be just as tasty and almost as good for you without it.
As a variation and to add a different flavor to your broth, you could also throw in some vegetables – a carrot, a stick or two of celery, an onion or a leek. Or flavor it with peppercorns and a bay leaf. But again, you really don’t need to.
Cover the pot with the lid and crank up the heat until everything comes to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. If you’re using a slow cooker, set it on medium. Cook your bone broth for a minimum of 12 hours.
If you’re using a pot, be sure to keep an eye on the water level and that there’s always plenty of liquid in your pot and that the bones are always covered.
Of course you don’t want to simmer the broth while you’re out of the house or sleeping. Start the broth in the morning on a day when you know you’ll be home. Simmer it all day until you’re ready to go to bed. Turn off the burner for the night, but keep the broth sitting on the stove. In the morning, bring the liquid back to a boil and continue simmering. After it has cooked for at least 12 hours, the broth is ready, woo hoo!
You’ll have a clear, rich golden-yellow colored broth (if using chicken bones). You can either use it immediately or leave it to cool, and then strain the liquid into a mason jar or a kilner jar and store it in the fridge. After it’s been in the fridge for a few hours, you’ll notice that the broth takes on a jelly-like texture, which is exactly what you want. A layer of fat will form on the top – this is perfectly nutritious too.
Your broth will keep for several days in the fridge, or you can freeze it too and it’ll keep for a month.
Enjoy and let me know how you get on with it!