It was several years ago during my master’s program that I first learned about bone broth, which was referenced in the calcium section of a nutrition textbook. As expected, the text indicated that one of the most abundant sources of calcium is dairy. I have always felt challenged by this concept because a great percentage of our world’s population (primarily in Asia) do not consume dairy, and so my question was “where are they getting calcium in their diet?”
As I continued to read, I was pleased to see that my question was addressed and was amused by the answer – bone broth. This broth was stated to contain 100 milligrams of calcium per tablespoon; the calcium in approximately 3 tablespoons of bone broth is equivalent to one cup of milk.
The knowledge learned in this introduction was just the first of many positive attributes of bone broth that I have learned and discovered over the years. Not only is bone broth rich in calcium but many other essential minerals as well including magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, and chromium. The protein content can also be relatively significant ranging from 6-12 grams per cup.
In practice, I have come to learn that for gastrointestinal distress bone broth has proven to be very soothing. I have had some patients that have not been able to consume much of any type of food due to extreme chronic illness however broth was one of the only things that could be tolerated and was felt to be calming.
But let’s be clear, not all bone broths are created equal! First, let’s discuss source: I recommend grass-fed, organic animal bones. And here is why. If you are using this for healing you really want the best, most healthy source of bones which have been developed in a healthy environment with the highest chances of the greatest nutrition and lowest possibility for undesired toxins. If you are purchasing bones from a regular grocery store, chances are this is the type of facility where the bones are coming from:
These animals are clearly not in a natural environment and their food is not natural either, it’s processed. This isn’t a statement about anything other than getting healthy bones into your broth, and a picture is worth a thousand words!
Grass-fed organic will most likely come from an environment that looks closer to this:
Clean air, fresh food, healthy bones and tissue! Enough said.
Next, cooking method and times are essential for high mineral extraction. Higher acidity of base liquid will aid in extracting the minerals from the bones, so the recipe that I recommend, which I will give below, includes some vinegar which will not be able to be detected in the flavor of the final product. Vegetables within the broth will also aid the nutrient quality as well as the flavor, so throw in those veggies!
It takes quite some time to cook down the bones so that the minerals are extracted in the highest quantity possible; we are not talking hours guys … we’re talking days! What I like to do to prevent my home smelling like broth for days at a time is set up my crockpot in my garage or out the back door (careful of curious animals if you do this!).
You will get more benefit from the broth if the bone marrow can be accessed during this cooking time. Sometimes with a very long cooking time the bones will literally begin to fall apart, but you can also crush or break the bones ahead of time to ensure this access. Often with bones such as beef they will already be cut in this fashion, but with bones from an animal like chicken or other poultry, it could be helpful.
Side note: The broth that I tend to make the most is chicken bone broth made from the bones of my organic fryers that I purchase in a double pack from Costco. After purchase, I remove the packaging and place each chicken in a gallon freezer bag. When ready to make the chicken, I use my Instant pot and simply pressure cook the entire frozen chicken for approximately 30 minutes. I’ll use the meat as desired and freeze the bones until I have enough bones to make a large bone broth recipe. I also will freeze beef bones in the same manner so that I make the broth when I have enough bones and at my convenience.
Basic Bone Broth Recipe
Drink a cup of bone broth (or more if you’d like) daily as a therapeutic food rich in minerals, or use as the liquid for making recipes such as soup, rice, beans, lentils, etc. Feel free to adjust the recipe to taste, adding or removing vegetables, herbs, and spices.
You will need a large stockpot or crockpot, large metal strainer, and a fat separator. I also like to use ice cube trays to freeze the broth for later use.
2 pounds (or more) of bones from a healthy source (grass-fed, organic). With poultry, you can also include the skin and organs. Roast beef bones ahead of time for additional flavor.
Vegetables such as:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
Optional: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon or more of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, garlic, additional herbs or spices to taste.
Place the bones in a large stockpot or crockpot along with 1-gallon filtered water. Add the vinegar. Let sit for 20-30 minutes in the cool water. The acid helps make the nutrients in the bones more available.
Rough chop and add the vegetables (except the parsley and garlic, if using) to the pot. Add any salt, pepper, spices, or herbs. Bring the broth to a vigorous boil, reduce to a simmer for the duration of cooking time (high setting on a crockpot, when boiling reduce to medium or low). Cook times differ depending on the type of bone:
Beef bones: 48 hours
Chicken or poultry bones: 24 hours
Fishbones: 8 hours
During the last 30 minutes, add the garlic and parsley, if using.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Strain using a fine metal strainer to remove all the bits of bone and vegetable. Use a fat separator to remove excess fat (if desired). When cool enough, store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.
Use as the liquid in soups, stews, gravies, sauces, and reductions. It can also be used when making rice, beans or lentils in substitution for some of the water or other liquid called for in the recipe, or simply drink as a beverage (if drinking straight please note that if fat is not removed it may not be tolerable depending on tastes and preferences).