Have you been living under a rock? This could be the only reason you aren’t familiar with the the bone broth trend. It’s been all the rage for several years now, with café-like establishments popping up in my home base of New York City and in other preferred “hipster” destinations. Maybe you dismissed this elixir’s supposed benefits for hair, skin and digestion as almost too good to be true or just another fad that promises to be a panacea.
The bone broth trend is actually the popularization of an ancient tradition of using every part of an animal. I’m an omnivore: I consume animal products, but out of respect for the cycle of life, I believe that using as much of the animal as possible is the only way to be a conscientious consumer. Instead of buying a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts at the store, I usually buy fresh whole chickens or bone-in parts, reserving the bones for homemade chicken broth.
Many health experts agree it’s no coincidence that around the same time people started consuming a small percentage of usable animal parts, certain illnesses stemming from nutritional deficiencies became more common. Bone broth extracts every last amino acid (the building blocks of protein) and mineral out of the bones, ensuring nothing goes to waste. When humans consume the broth, their intake of gelatin, collagen, glucosamine and proteoglycans increases, which can help reduce inflammation, improve joint and bone conditions, and contribute to better brain functioning and mental health.
Folks with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, will feel the most dramatic benefits, but almost everyone could use some help with healing their gut. Once a leaky gut is healed, food intolerances (not allergies) might also be reduced.
The healing effect of bone broth on leaky gut is one of the reasons I recommend it to people recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, because consuming gluten has led to leaky gut in those individuals.
Some people do have a negative reaction to bone broth. Because of bio-individuality, nothing is a cure-all. For example, if you have histamine intolerance, it might not be the best thing to consume copious amounts of bone broth on a regular basis. Negative reactions could depend on dosage, might be temporary, and perhaps be reduced after more intensive healing with a skilled medical practitioner. I encourage you to listen to your body and cease consumption if you notice any ill effects.
How to consume:
Bone broth is now readily available in the United States, either locally at your grocery store or online, but I encourage you to make your own. Not only will you be saving money by buying bone-in chicken and using every last part, but you will have full control of your broth’s concentration, plus any additional ingredients you may want to add. For example, more widely available bone broths include onions and garlic, which can be problematic for folks with SIBO or on a low-FODMAP diet. It can be stored easily in wide-mouth glass jars, or whichever containers make the most sense for your life and priorities. Plastic containers from the grocery store are not my favorite because even if it says its BPA-free, most plastics leach hormone-like chemicals, but any homemade bone broth is better than none. Eliminating plastic from your life can take a while; I believe in using what you have as long as possible to reduce landfill waste—even if that means dealing with some plastic in the short term.
You can make bone broth from lots of different types of animal bones, but my favorite is chicken. Because they don’t require additional roasting like beef bones, and are easier to obtain, I think chicken is best for beginners. If you get in the habit of roasting a chicken on a regular basis, you’ll quickly have plenty of bones to make your own broth. Just put the bones in a bag in the freezer until you’ve saved enough to make a batch of broth. These Stasher bags are my favorite plastic-free bags for storing chicken bones in the freezer.
It was thought that adding apple cider vinegar helped to extract all the minerals from the bones, but that may not be the case anymore.
I used to recommend cooking broth low and slow, but my technique has changed based on new information. Check out this article to avoid commons bone broth mistakes!
- reserved carcasses from about 2 chickens
- filtered water to cover (I use about 2.5-3 quarts in my Instant Pot)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
- Stovetop directions: Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer. Cook partially covered for 10-12 hours, skimming and discarding foam that floats to the top in the first two hours. Add just enough water to keep the bones covered if needed. Don’t stir the bones!
- Instant Pot directions: Combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot, following the directions specific to your model. Cook at high pressure for 120 minutes. Release the pressure manually.
- Strain the liquid, then pour into your storage containers, leaving enough headroom to allow for expansion in the freezer (we don’t want any exploded jars!) Wait first for the jars to stop steaming, then screw on the lids. Refrigerate overnight, then freeze for up to six months. Defrost individual jars overnight in the refrigerator as needed. Use the same as you would a chicken stock, or drink hot in a mug. Add salt to taste when reheating.