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It turns out there might be something to that old notion of “Jewish penicillin” – aka chicken soup, having some healing power.

Great bone broth starts with quality ingredients, and a long, slow simmer on the stovetop.

Bone broth is basically the same thing as stock. It’s the flavorful, filling, nutrient-rich liquid made from simmering animal bones for many hours, or even days. It’s been used since prehistoric times, in practically every culture in the world, to fortify soups in home-cooked meals and gourmet cuisine alike. So bone broth has never really been out of fashion – but it’s rarely been what you’d call a star ingredient, either.

Basically, we’re talking about soup. But not the canned stuff you find on store shelves. No way.

Before we dive into this rabbit hole, let’s help you find your way around, because frankly, this is a pretty long article.

Until now. Thanks to new scientific research, and the efforts of wellness practitioners, nutrition advocates and medical professionals like Louise Hay, Sally Fallon and Dr. Joseph Mercola, bone broth is getting a lot of attention these days. More people are using genuine bone broth instead of bouillon cubes in their recipes, more people are making their own broth, and some people are even drinking it straight from a cup every day as a health supplement.

Let’s start by discovering the reasons behind bone broth’s newfound popularity. After that, we’ll take a look at a few great DIY recipes as well as some of the best prepared bone broth products on the market.

Benefits of Bone Broth

The rise of the slow food movement, the trend toward greater use of wholefoods, and the simple rediscovery of its rich traditional taste have all helped put bone broth in the spotlight. But there’s more to it than that. Over the past couple of decades, the biochemical bases of wellbeing have been studied more intensively than ever before, and what that research has confirmed is that bone broth offers an amazing array of nutrients beneficial for general health and healing as well as the following specific areas:

Improved gut health

Good bone broth (ideally from grass-fed/free-range animals) is incredibly rich in gelatin, a hydrophilic colloid that helps your digestive tract retain liquids that strengthen the mucosal lining of your intestines. That’s important for good digestion and proper nutrient absorption, and it’s especially beneficial for people who suffer from leaky gut syndrome, in which a damaged intestinal lining allows undigested bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream. Regular consumption of bone broth can help reverse the damage, ‘sealing’ the gut and allowing it to function normally again.

Reduced inflammation

Bone broth contains high levels of a number of anti-inflammatory amino acids, including arginine, cysteine, glycine, histidine and proline. Thus, people with inflammatory disorders ranging from annoying allergies to serious autoimmune diseases often find that incorporating bone broth into their diet helps to provide relief from the symptoms.

Those who suffer from painful joint inflammation (arthritis, for example) enjoy even more targeted benefits, because bone broth is also full of cartilage components such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These nutrients help heal joints directly, and they also aid the body’s own production of collagen for an add-on regenerative effect.

Fight against sickness

The same amino acids responsible for bone broth’s anti-inflammatory effect also support the immune system and help the body to battle infection; one, cysteine, is in fact structurally similar to acetylcysteine, a medication often prescribed for bronchitis. Research has found chicken bone broth to be particularly useful against the common cold, because it’s also effective in reducing mucus production and clearing respiratory channels.

Stronger bones & teeth

As you’d expect, bone broth has all of the minerals your own bones (and teeth) need to stay strong and healthy. Calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc are all present in high concentrations, as are vitamins A, B, C, D and K. These nutrients are critical to proper bone formation and growth when you’re younger, and they’re just as necessary for repairing damage and maintaining bone density as you age.

Good hair – and nails, and skin

Your body incorporates bone broth’s bounty of collagen and gelatin into its own tissues, resulting in healthier, fuller hair, stronger nails, and suppler skin.

Help with weight loss

This is an often overlooked benefit of bone broth – but a very important one to many people! Bone broth can help you lose weight in two ways. One involves an amino acid that we haven’t talked about yet, L-glutamine, which has been shown to reduce levels of a certain type of gut bacteria linked to obesity. The other has to do with bone broth’s hearty, satisfying nature: Bone broth itself is a relatively low-calorie food, but you still feel full when you consume it – and then you’re less likely to binge on higher-calorie snacks or desserts afterward.

Building muscle

By now you’ve probably gotten the idea that there are an awful lot of amino acids in bone broth. And as you probably remember from high school, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of – yes, that’s right, muscle! Consuming bone broth gives your body more of the amino acids it needs to synthesize muscle protein and build muscle tissue. Not into bodybuilding? Well, there’s a reason this benefit comes right after ‘weight loss’: muscle tends to increase your metabolic rate, burning more calories and making it easier to shed pounds.

Staying hydrated

Did you know most experts recommend drinking between 32-64 ounces of water each day? Not an easy task!

Sports drinks use a combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates to keep you hydrated better than plain water. Guess what? So does bone broth – with one caveat: it won’t contain significant quantities of carbs unless you make it with vegetables. (The electrolytes come from the minerals in the bones themselves.)

Boost your energy levels

As well as hydration, electrolytes and carbohydrates are great for providing ready energy. Supplementing with electrolytes is especially effective at restoring energy levels post-workout, when your body’s natural supply of them tends to be depleted.

A better mood

Bone broth is good for your body in so many ways, and it turns out that it’s also good for your psyche! That’s not just because it’s a kind of comfort food for many people; it goes back to the first benefit we talked about, gut health. Bone broth’s restorative effects on the intestinal lining promote a healthier population of good bacteria there, and surprising as it may seem, neuroscience is now demonstrating that this has a big effect on how you feel mentally as well as physically. Scientists are looking into using this fact to treat diseases like depression, but for now we can just say that a healthier gut is likely to contribute to increased calm, improved mood, and better short-term memory.

Bone Broth Recipes

If you’d lived a hundred years ago you wouldn’t have needed a recipe for bone broth. Everybody made their own, and you would have learned how at your mother’s knee, probably following a recipe that had been in the family for generations. Unfortunately, that tradition largely died out during the latter half of the twentieth century, and today even many amateur chefs don’t know how to make bone broth.

The good news is that it’s not at all hard; it requires more in the way of patience than real culinary skill. Here are five ways to do it:

 

Hilary Boynton & Mary Brackett’s Basic Bone Broth Recipe (as told to Dr. Mercola)

(source)

For a simple, easy-to-follow recipe that delivers great bone broth every time, you can start with this one, which Dr. Mercola learned from local/whole food advocates Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett. It specifies beef bones, but you could substitute pork or fish bones, or the bones from a roasted chicken or turkey. You could also use a whole chicken (which will produce a milder broth); in that case just remove the meat after a couple of hours and use it for something else while you continue to simmer the bones. Whatever your base, Boynton & Brackett say it should come from grass fed animals if at all possible.

Ingredients

  • 3–4 lbs. marrow and/or knuckle bones
  • 2 lbs. short ribs
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 onions
  • Parsley (fresh)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the bones in a large stockpot or crockpot together with the apple cider vinegar and enough water to just cover. Let sit 1 hour, then add vegetables (except parsley).
  2. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that forms on the top.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 24–72 hours.
  4. Add parsley 10 minutes before end of cooking.
  5. Cool and strain broth; add salt to taste.

Louise Hay’s Favorite Bone Broth Recipe (as told to Heather Dane)

(source)

There’s no ingredients list for Louise’s broth, because the recipe actually depends on what you’ve eaten over the last week or two. Somewhat like medieval pottage, you make it from the scraps of other meals – bones alone for neutral tasting broths, plus vegetable peels, stems etc. if you want something more flavorful. That brings both your cost and your food waste to practically zero!

To get started, put a big paper grocery bag in your freezer. Then just add your desired table and kitchen scraps to it after meals. You can use chicken, pork, beef, lamb and fish bones and vegetable scraps like carrot peels, garlic skins, kale stems and pea pods. When the bag is full, you’ll be ready to make a broth. (If you can’t wait that long, Louise recommends buying raw bones from a farmers’ market or health-food store.)

Instructions

  1. Dump the frozen scraps from your grocery bag into a large stockpot or crockpot.
  2. Just cover the scraps with water, add ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, and let sit for 1 hour.
  3. Add 2 tsp. salt and 10 whole black peppercorns.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for up to 24 hours.
  5. Strain out the scraps, retaining the bones if desired (you can get up to 3 batches of broth from them).
  6. Cool the liquid in the refrigerator and skim off the layer of fat that forms on top.

Sally Fallon’s Chicken / Beef / Fish Broth

(source)

If you’re looking for something a little more specific, Sally Fallon has crafted three detailed recipes that let you achieve a great flavor balance tailored to either chicken, beef or fish bones. Once again, try to use only bones from free-range animals – stock made from the bones of factory-farmed animals doesn’t gel nearly as well.

Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken, or 2–3 lbs. necks/backbones/breastbones/wings
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 3 celery stalks
  • Parsley (fresh)

Instructions

  1. Clean and chop the chicken (if whole); place chicken in a large pot with vinegar, vegetables other than parsley, and 1 gallon water. Let sit 1 hour.
  2. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that forms on the top.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 6–8 hours.
  4. Add parsley 10 minutes before end of cooking.
  5. Strain broth, saving any meat for other meals.
  6. Cool the liquid in the refrigerator and skim off the layer of fat that forms on top.

Beef

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. marrow and/or knuckle bones
  • 3 lbs. ribs and/or neck bones
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 3 onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • Thyme (fresh)
  • 1 tsp. crushed dried green peppercorns
  • Parsley (fresh)

Instructions

  1. Place marrow/knuckle bones in a large pot; add vinegar and enough water to just cover. Let sit 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, roast ribs/neck bones in the oven at 350° F until browned; set aside.
  3. Remove fat from roasting pan, add cold water, and bring to a boil, stirring to homogenize.
  4. Add the resulting liquid, the browned ribs/neck bones, and the onions, carrots and celery to the pot with the marrow/knuckle bones, along with additional water if needed.
  5. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that forms on the top.
  6. Reduce heat, add thyme and peppercorns, cover, and simmer for 12–72 hours.
  7. Add parsley 10 minutes before end of cooking.
  8. Strain broth.
  9. Cool the liquid in the refrigerator and skim off the layer of fat that forms on top.

Fish

Ingredients

  • 3–4 carcasses (bones + heads) from rockfish, snapper, sole, turbot, or other non-oily fish
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • Thyme (fresh)
  • Parsley (fresh)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • about 3 quarts cold filtered water

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and carrot and cook over low heat until soft (about 30 minutes).
  2. Add wine; bring to a boil.
  3. Add fish carcasses and water to cover; add vinegar.
  4. Return to boil and skim off the scum that forms on the top.
  5. Bind herbs together with string and add to the pot.
  6. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 4–24 hours.
  7. Strain broth.
  8. Cool the liquid in the refrigerator and skim off the layer of fat that forms on top.

Where to buy your own pre-made bone broth?

Making your own bone broth is very rewarding, no doubt. It’s also time consuming, and makes quite a mess. So if you don’t have time for it (or you’re just not that into cooking) you’ll be glad to know some very reputable sources offer a number of quality ready-to-use bone broth products. It’s easy to enjoy the flavor and the health benefits without the work. Here are three of the best:

Kitchen Basics Chicken Bone Broth

Inexpensive and simple as it is, Kitchen Basics Chicken Bone Broth isn’t really all that basic when it comes to flavor. The all-natural ingredients (chicken bones, organic vegetables and herbs) blend into a savory broth that’s tasty enough to use by itself as a healthful hot drink. Each convenient single-serve carton contains 10 grams of protein (20% of the recommended daily intake) but only 50 calories. Just pour a pack into your favorite mug, microwave for a minute or two, and enjoy! It’s a satisfying, nourishing snack that keeps the junk food cravings away, and people who drink a cup daily report other benefits like quicker weight loss and improved digestion. It’s also an uber-delicious substitute for water or ordinary bullion in soups and stews.

Beef Bone Broth by Kettle & Fire

Kettle & Fire’s premium Beef Bone Broth is made entirely from the bones of grass-fed, pastured cattle simmered for nearly 24 hours with apple cider vinegar, 100% organic vegetables, and natural seasonings like sea salt, bay leaves and thyme. The result is a broth that’s not only delicious but also exceptionally rich in nutrients like collagen, gelatin, proteins and essential amino acids. It gels just like homemade broth, too! The big 16.9 oz. size is perfect for cooking, but many who try it like the taste so much that they also enjoy it as a hot drink (just put any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days).

Bone Broth Protein Powder Superfood Capsules from Au Bon Broth

Don’t have time to heat up some broth? Need something even more convenient and less messy? These superfood capsules got what you need and come jam packed with good stuff, without the hassle.

So… maybe by now you’re sold on the health benefits of bone broth, and you realize that you have other options if you don’t want to make it yourself – but you still don’t like the way it tastes! Well, there’s an option for that, too: these bone broth capsules from top-rated maker Au Bon Broth. What goes into them is real bone broth, made from organic grass-fed beef and free-range chicken bones and dehydrated into a powder. The only thing that’s taken out is the water, so the capsules have all the health-giving collagen, gelatin, protein and minerals of the original. (Even if you love liquid bone broth, you might want to check these out: many people who normally drink broth at home find capsules more convenient for road trips and vacations.)