Taking Stock of Bone Broth
By Christina Bradshaw
Bone broth is everywhere these days and claims abound about its ability to heal creaking joints, brighten dull skin, and boost energy. But what is it really? It’s a time-tested cooking staple, says Kaayla T. Daniel, a nutritionist and co-author of Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. “It’s a traditional food in every culture around the world,” notes Daniel. “If it’s a fad, it’s the longest fad ever.”
Bone broth has an edge over stock, says Alan R. Morgan, a culinary coordinator for the mid-Atlantic region of Whole Foods Market. “What sets bone broth apart is that it is cooked low and slow with the goal of extracting the gelatin and nutritious minerals from the bones,” he says. But there have been few scientific studies to back up the hype, and it’s tough to pin down certain benefits because of variables such as the choice of animal bones, vegetables, and cooking methods and times, notes Morgan. “Each of these factors impacts the nutritional properties and benefits of the bone broth,” Morgan says, but it has the potential to be a great source of:
• Minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
• Glycine and proline (good for digestion, muscles, and your immune system)—amino acids not found in muscle meat.
• Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements for reducing inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain.
• Collagen, which broken down produces gelatin, good for supporting joints, normal inflammatory response, and healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Morgan recommends getting your bones from a butcher shop—and it shouldn’t be too pricy. “It’s always better to start from a raw bone, one that has not been cooked, so that you can extract the most flavor out of them,” he advises. Bones keep about two to three days in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer.
If you have to buy broth at the supermarket, Morgan suggests looking for packages that specifically say “bone broth.” “Then you can be more confident that it’s been cooked longer and has the properties you are looking for,” he says.
But don’t make bone broth your one and only. “I have seen many people start their day with bone broth, instead of coffee or tea, and continue drinking it all day when they would have coffee or tea,” notes Morgan. But as an entire meal by itself? “I would add in some vegetable or have it alongside a large salad,” Morgan says.
Daniel agrees. “Don’t see one food as a miracle food,” she cautions. “Include the whole spectrum.” If you do make your own bone broth, Daniel suggests joint bones and chicken or pig feet and adding ingredients such as onions, celery, carrots, and garlic to taste (but you’ll take them out later when they’re “spent.”). Vinegar and wine “helps pull the nutrition out of the bones,” she notes. “From a health point of view, we were meant to do nose-to-tail eating,” Daniel says. “I’ll roast a chicken Sunday, turn it into curry the next day, . . . I’ll throw [the carcass] in the pot with feet, and I’ll get broth going. It’s real simple.”
Daniel recommends oxtail as a “fail proof” bone broth ingredient for its gelatin and flavor, but says to follow your taste buds, which could mean combining lots of different bones in one pot.
“I talk to a lot of people looking for the perfect bones, and I’m like, ‘Relax already,’” she says. “Fussing over the perfect recipe with the highest and most balanced nutrition, forget about that. Work on a variety, and enjoy all of them.”
Roasted Bone Marrow Broth
For the roasted bone marrow:
1lb grassfed beef marrow bones
Salt and pepper to taste
For the bone broth:
8 cups water
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1 large carrot, broken into pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 celery rib, broken into 2-3 pieces
a handful fresh parsley
To make the roasted bone marrow:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF
Place the marrow bones on a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt
and pepper (on both sides, please!)
Roast bones in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until they turn golden
and marrow becomes soft and just barely starts to melt.
You want to take them out of the oven when they get nicely crispy and golden and the marrow becomes soft and starts to bubble a little bit. Be careful not to overdo the cooking, or your marrow will end up completely melted down. The marrow, when done, should be enjoyably warm but not exactly hot.
Remove to a plate and serve with a side of fresh leafy greens, or continue
with broth making.
To make the broth:
Add the roasted bones along with all the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan or stockpot.
Bring to a roaring boil then lower heat, partly cover and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, until the flavor of the broth is to your liking.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and serve, or use in your favorite soups/recipes.
Recipe courtesy of thehealthyfoodie.com/roasted-bone-marrow-broth.