For many of our ancestors, if there were bones in the home, it meant the household would be nourished. These could be fish bones, shrimp shells, chicken feet, goat hooves or any other sacred bones. While many of your reading this today may follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, all of our ancestors nourished their bodies with animal products. Even India's rich 2,000 year history of primarily vegetarian diets is still superseded by the even more ancient study of Ayurveda, in which bone broths are touted for their digestive healing & bone-building properties.
Before we go further into the myriad benefits of bone broth, let's talk about eating animals. There are obvious & brutal realities with eating animals. Most animals sold for consumption live in horrible, unnatural conditions, are raised diseased and pumped full of hormones & antibiotics, are environmentally unsustainable, and frankly, are sad and stressed. I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to support that system.
So how do we content with these two realities? One one side, our ideology & ethics tells us not to eat meat. On the other side, our physiological bodies need animal products to thrive long-term and for mothers to bare thriving children. Somewhere in the middle is the answer is regenerative agriculture - where animals are raised only on pasture, but are intentionally moved at a rate that allows grasses roots to sink deeper into the earth and for soils and landscapes to be regenerated into abundance. Amazing, right? Unfortunately, most of us don't have the budget to buy these high-grade, mutually-beneficial animal products.
So what to do...
For me, the answer lies in bone broths. Buying not the meat, but the bones, from organic, pasture-raised animals is 1000x cheaper. (For the most part, our modern system considers the bones as waste! Our ancestors would be appalled by this state of affairs.) Utilizing those bones in a traditional broth provides 1000x more nutrition than the meat itself. Sometimes butchers or farmers will give you the bones, or feet, for free!
Economical. Ethical. Deeply nourishing.
What is bone broth?
Just as it sounds, bone broth is made from sloooowly simmering animals bones in water for 6-24+ hours. The longer the bones simmer, the more nutrients they release. Broth develop the best flavor when the bones are first roasted and some vegetables and spices are added. Typically some combination of carrot, onion, fennel, celery, mushroom, garlic, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, bay leaf.
What are the benefits?
Bones build bones. They are rich sources of calcium that our bodies need to have strong, healthy bones. Alongside, we need vitamin A, D & K to properly synthesize that calcium into our bodies for use. W\
Great for our gut. Anecdotal stories as old as time describe the healing power of bone broth when our digestion is weak or when we are suffering from digestion-related disease, like Crone's, IBS, food allergies, and auto-immune diseases.
Rich in gelatin & collagen - essential for lubricated, pain-free joints and does wonders for glowing skin. Collagen helps our bodies detox, and supports mental health and decreasing anxiety.
Rich in minerals, especially broths made from fish bones/head & shrimp shells.
Sooo flavorful. Bone broths are nutrient dense and flavor-packed, making it easy to whip up a delicious soup anytime or add extra nutrition to grains by cooking them in tasty broth.
What should we use?
Use whatever you can find that is organic!
Chicken bones make for arguably the tastiest broth. Try to add a couple chicken feet for extra gelatin & collagen.
Bigger bones of goats, cows, buffalo contain marrow and thus have the added benefit of being sources of vitamin A, D & K.
All feet & hooves are welcome! Chicken, goat and pig are the most common. Best practice is to soak the feet overnight in a pot of water with ample vinegar to help soften
How do we do it?
Source your bones from the farmers market, a butcher, or if you are in the country, a neighbor who keeps animals.
Lovingly wash the bones and thank them! They came from a living being and will nourish you. Feel gratitude and connection.
Optional: Roast the bones on an oven tray at 180 degrees celsius for about 30 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly golden. Roasting helps soften the bones so that the most nutrition can be pulled from them when boiling and adds great flavor
Take the biggest pot in your home and fill it almost to the top with water.
Roughly chop 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 stalk of celery or fennel, add it the stock pot. Optional additions are bay leaf, black pepper, turmeric, garlic, ginger, seaweed, mushroom (I like to toss in a couple dried shiitake mushrooms!)
Add the bones and add several tablespoons of vinegar. The acidity will help pull the nutrients from the bones.
Bring to a boil and turn down to a sloooowwww simmer
Simmer as long as possible, 2-3 hours up to 24 hours
Don't add salt. Broth is versatile! Maybe you will make a rich hot cocoa or breakfast smoothie with it for your kids, or maybe it will become risotto or pasta. Adding salt as you use it in your cooking allows it to remain versatile.
I like to make a big stockpot of broth once a week. I keep most of it in the fridge and tuck away a container into the freezer, which I can take with me when visiting friends or family as a nourishing gift or use in a pinch when I'm out of other cooking ideas.
You might find that once your broth cools down, it is THICK like jelly. Yay! You made gelatin & collagen rich broth - well done. Don't be freaked out :) Once you warm it up again, it will return to it's liquid state.
Dear friends, bone broth is a beautiful way to bring deep nourishment to ourselves & our families in all stages of our life. Have a friend that just birthed a baby? Make her broth! Have a friend that recently broke a bone or is healing from surgery? Make them broth! Have an elder in your life that is struggling? Make them broth too. Know someone dealing with digestive issues? You got it, make them broth.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below.