The curious case of bone broth – a Stone Age soup revived as a much- hyped 21st century superfood.
BONE broth is so old, even people during the Stone Age were sipping it. There are stories of our prehistoric forebears using the stomach pouches of slaughtered animals as vessels for bones, meat, herbs and animal fat, which were then left to simmer over hot stones.
In cultures across the world, bone broth has continued to be a staple – from brodo ( Italian for broth) to Vietnamese pho, Japanese tonkotsu, Malaysian bah kut teh and sup tulang.
Legendary French chef August Escoffier was a huge fan. According to Katherine and Ryan Harvey in their book Bone Broth Secrets, Escoffier referenced bone stock 293 times in his 943- page masterpiece Le Guide Culinaire!
In the early 20th century, bone broth’s value took a nosedive when monosodium glutamate ( MSG) was introduced. Designed to mimic the elusive umami taste, MSG became a quick, easy fix to the hours spent simmering bones.
By the 1960s, MSG had replaced broth as an essential component in the food industry as well as restaurant kitchens. Soon, even home cooks adopted it.
And then, a couple of years ago, everything changed when traditional bone broth found itself back in favour.
A really hot soup
In 2010, chef Marco Canora was overweight, had high cholesterol levels and was generally unhealthy. Looking to turn his life around, he started sipping the Tuscan bone broths – brodo – his Italian mother used to make, and noticed a vast improvement.
In 2014, Canora opened his takeout restaurant Brodo, specialising in bone broth. It was an instant hit, with queues a commonplace occurrence. Canora now sells 150 to 190 litres of hot broth daily, plus an additional 50 to 75 litres in jars of frozen broth.
While many of the fans who queue up outside Brodo every day are regular New Yorkers looking for the latest in healthy living and eating, lots of celebrities have gotten in on the action too.
Celebrity bone broth fans include Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kobe Bryant – who has attributed his accelerated healing after injuries to bone broth – and health freak Shailene Woodley, who has bone broth for breakfast!
Now that bone broth is hot again, it has gained a reputation for being a liquid superfood that clears complexions, boosts hair growth and heals joint injuries.
So just what is in good old animal bones, and why can’t you just gnaw at the bones and get the same magical benefits?
Bone broth benefi- ts
Well, for one thing, according to the Harveys, “All of these nutrients are locked in the bones, tendons and cartilage of animals until the slow- cooking process liberates them.” This basically means you have to simmer the bones and meat to get the nutritional value.
According to Robin Westen, author of Heal Your Gut with Bone Broth, animal bones are made up of about 50% protein and contain a host of beneficial properties, including collagen, gelatine, cartilage, amino acids, calcium, glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, magnesium and phosphorus.
A large percentage of bone broth’s appeal lies in its high collagen content, derived from animal parts like chicken feet, beef knuckles and marrow and fish head. Collagen is a protein that helps keep the body supple and elastic, i. e, young. Pricey collagen supplements and beauty treatments are aplenty – the industry is so profitable, it is expected to be worth US$ 4.4bil ( RM17.6bil) by 2020.
Because collagen production declines as you age, the collagen in bone broth has been heralded as the best way forward for people wanting a daily dose of affordable collagen ( liquid is also supposed to be better than pills for absorption), to give them radiant skin, thicker hair and strong nails.
According to Canora in his cookbook Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook, the bones from young animals have the highest collagen content. Canora says he has benefited from bone broth’s aesthetic virtues as his wife says the fine lines on his forehead have virtually disappeared!
Once collagen is cooked down in the broth- making process, it transforms into gelatine, a jellylike substance. Gelatine is chockfull of amino acids like proline, glycine, glutamine and arginine. Canora says “these are the building blocks your body needs for healthy skin, bones and joints.”
In fact, a 2010 study conducted at the University of Mosul College of Medicine found that bone broth significantly improved the speed and quality of healing bones.
There is some proof to back this
up, especially if you look at how strongly the sporting community has adopted bone broth. The LA Lakers team consume it as part of their natural diet now and football announcer Phil Simms called it the new beverage of the NFL!
In her foreword to The Bare
Bones Broth Cookbook, Cate Shanaghan, a doctor who works with the LA Lakers, recounted how basketball player Metta World Peace injured his knee and was meant to have surgery. But after consuming a diet that included bone broth, he was back in action after 12 days, although the usual recovery time is six weeks!
According to Canora, the arginine and glycine in the broth also impart it with protein- sparing capabilities, which means meat consumption can be cut down, because you are getting protein through broth.
One of the most important attributes of guzzling bone broth is the effect it apparently has on the gut. Interestingly, about 70% to 80% of the immune system is located in the gut but many people suffer from poor gut health, linked to unhealthy diets filled with processed, sweetened food.
All of this can lead to a leaky gut, which means holes form in the gastrointestinal tract, allowing food and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. This can cause a range of ailments from food allergies to fatigue. Canora says the gelatin in bone broth acts as a sealant and “effectively plugs the holes in the lining of the digestive tract like spackle on a pitted wall and prevents further damage”.
Animal bones like chicken feet and beef knuckles are also rich in cartilage, which once simmered down in broth, contains glycosaminoglycans, which helps connective tissue growth and makes joints stronger.
As a deto
For a proper initiation to bone broth, its proponents advocate going on a bone broth reset, akin to a detox as a precursor to a diet where bone broth is a constant.
Canora recommends a threeday reset diet of six 350ml servings of broth, starting light with chicken broth and moving towards more intense beef broths as the day progresses.
Because bone broth has zero sugar and a lot of protein, it is a lot more filling than going on a juice cleansing regime, and Canora says it will give your digestive system a break, support the immune system and keep energy levels up.
Westen, on the other hand, advocates a seven- day detox programme, which also includes a one- week preparatory period where processed food, caffeine, alcohol, stress and a whole lot of harmful elements are to be avoided, to maximise the benefits of bone broth later on.
According to Canora, bone broth has to be consumed as part of a healthy diet, because if you’re sipping it every day while regularly eating processed or sugary food, you won’t fully reap its benefits.
A flavouring agent
Including bone broth in your diet doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to drinking it straight or in soups. In the books you will find plenty of recipes where bone broth is incorporated into a dish, like Canora’s lamb brodo risotto with peas and mint, which calls for shortgrain rice to be cooked with six cups of roasted lamb broth.
The Harveys have a barbecue chicken recipe, which uses a cup of chicken broth. There are even recipes for smoothies which utilise bone broth! In this way, bone broth can be incorporated into other dishes, bringing more variety to the table.
Ultimately, it would seem that regularly sipping bone broth can do all sorts of wonders for the body. In fact, the Harveys say they have heard stories from customers whose acne and eczema have healed, as well as those whose autoimmune conditions and digestive issues were eradicated after consuming daily shots of bone broth.
But – and it’s important to note – very little of bone broth’s supposed health benefits have been verified by science. Although this doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you, there’s nothing to indicate that it’s the miracle cure- all it’s been hailed as.
In an interview with Time magazine, Dr Kantha Shelke, a food scientist said, “Anecdotes along the lines of ‘ I ate bone broth and my gut problem cleared up’ do not count as evidence- based medicine.”
Well, decide if you want to reap the benefits of bone broth now or wait until your doctor tells you so.
IF you’d like to go on a bone broth diet and see for yourself whether it works or not, here’s how to go about it. First, try to use the bones of organically- grown animals if you can. This means wild- caught seafood, organic or free- range chicken and grass- fed cattle.
The rationale behind this is pretty much the same as whatever else you put into your body – the better the source, the better it is for you. Technically however, as authors of The Bare Bone Broth
Cookbook say, “You should use any bones you can get your hands on!”
The Harveys however also caution that harmful hormones injected into animals that are not sustainably bred, can leach into the bone broth, nulling its healing capabilities.
Also, while you can mix lamb, beef and chicken bones together to make a broth, seafood should never be added to this mixture. Fish, shrimp and lobster all make great broths on their own.
Broth vs stock
The basic difference between making a stock and making a broth is that broth tends to contain more meat than bones and is cooked for far longer – some broths even take two days to make!
You can use chicken parts like wings or necks and cattle parts like oxtail for the broth, as well as adding bony bits from knuckles, marrow, joints and feet of animals.
Before making bone broth, invest in a couple of basic kitchen implements – a large stainless steel stock pot ( or slowcooker), soup ladle for skimming, strainer and mason jars for storing the broth.
To begin making your bone broth, fill a stock pot with bones and meat and cover with at least 5- 8cm ( 2- 3”) of water. If you want a broth with a richer flavour, roast bones before this step. Avoid using tap water in your broth; filtered water is best and Brodo’s Marco Canora says hot water extracts more protein. The water levels should remain at least 5cm ( 2”) from the tip of the pot.
The bone- water ratio is critical to getting a gelatine- rich broth as broths that fail to gel once refrigerated are often the result of too much water being added during the cooking process.
Once the pot has been filled with bones and water, bring it to a boil. During this process, continuously skim the impurities off the surface of the broth. Once it comes to a boil, Canora advises that it’s best to move the pot to one side of the burner, which forces the fat and impurities to rise to the surface – so you can continue to skim scum intermittently.
Then it’s a matter of letting the broth simmer for a couple of hours. Much later in the simmering process, vegetables like carrot and celery and aromatics like garlic and onion are added, to give the broth a heightened depth of flavour.
There is some dispute in the bone broth community about the length of time a broth should be cooked.
According to Canora, the belief that a broth has to be brewing for 24 hours to 48 hours to be worthy of the title broth is “nonsense”.
He says most chicken broths can be made in six hours while even beef and lamb broths made with large bones don’t need more than 16 to 18 hours, as most large bones have given up all the nutrients they have to give after that.
The Harveys on the other hand, say chicken broth should be cooked for 24 hours for ultimate nutrient content while beef, veal and pork bones should be cooked for 30 to 48 hours.
There is little dispute, however, about fish broths, which take no longer than two hours to whip up! Shrimp broths take even less and are done in under an hour.
It is up to you to decide how long you want to cook your broth for, but once you’re done simmering the broth, strain it, add salt as necessary and let it cool in mason jars. Some experts recommend letting it sit in an ice bath before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
If you’re planning on consuming the broth within the next week, put it straight into the refrigerator. But if you want to keep the broth longer, freeze it. Broth can last in the freezer for at least six months to a year.
jiggly jelly an oating at
Another thing to note is that a well- made broth will look like jelly once it sets in the fridge. This is good! This means it has been made properly. You will also notice a layer that has formed on top of the broth. This is called the fat cap and should be removed from the broth before consumption.
Saving the worl an sel
Making your own bone broth takes time, but ultimately it’s totally worth it. Aside from the health benefits ( which you will notice after repeated consumption, if all the hype is true) there is another great advantage: waste prevention.
Off- cuts like necks, knuckles and feet often get discarded by butchers and customers alike but by turning these unwanted appendages into nourishing, protein- rich bone broth, every bit of the animal gets fully utilised and nothing goes to waste.
You can even go one step further and make use of the simmered meat from bone broth. Canora transforms the meat from his hearth broth into fried mini meatballs called polpettone.
Another alternative is to use the simmered meat, bones, vegetables and aromatics to make a weak stock called remouillage. The remouillage can also be used in place of water when you’re making your next batch of broth.
Saving the planet and keeping your health in order? Tell me bone broth doesn’t sound like a legit messiah right now!
Makes 5.6 litres 2 ( 900g to 1.3kg) stewing ( old) hens 2 ( 450g) turkey drumsticks 1.3kg beef shin 3 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped 6 celery stalks, roughly chopped 3 large carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped 1 ( 411g) can whole peeled tomatoes 10 sprigs flat- leaf parsley 1 tbsp black peppercorns fine sea salt, to taste
To make broth
Place all the meat in a pot and add cold water to cover by 5cm ( 2- 3”). Bring it to a boil over high heat, about 1 hour, skimming off the foamy impurities every 15 to 20 minutes.
As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low and pull the pot to one side so it is partially off the burner. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming once or twice.
Add the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, parsley and peppercorns and push them down into the liquid.
Continue to simmer for 3 to 5 hours, skimming as needed and occasionally checking to make sure that the bones are fully submerged.
Use a spider skimmer to remove the solids. Strain the broth through a fine- mesh strainer. Season with salt to taste and let it cool.
Transfer the cooled broth to storage containers ( leaving any sediment in the bottom of the pot) and refrigerate overnight.
Skim off any solidified fat from the top and store the broth for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months. – Recipe from Brodo: A Bone Broth
Cookbook by Marco Canora
CRISPY CHICKEN STEW WITH LEMON, ARTICHOKES, CAPERS & OLIVES
For the chicken bone broth
2 whole chickens 450g chicken feet 1/ 4 cup apple cider, white, or white wine vinegar 6- 8 cups cold water, or as needed to cover ingredients 4 cups ice cubes 3 carrots, peeled and halved 4 onions, peeled and halved 3 sprigs fresh thyme 3 sprigs fresh rosemary 3 bay leaves
For the chicken stew
1 tbsp garlic paste 1 tsp sea salt 1 tsp dried oregano 900g bone- in, skin- on chicken thighs 2 tbsp ghee or olive oil 1/ 2 red onion, peeled and chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/ 4 cup capers with brine 1/ 2 lemon, thinly sliced 1/ 4 cup white wine 2 cups canned artichoke hearts 1 cup kalamata olives 1 1/ 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
To make the chicken bone broth Preheat the oven to 180 ˚ C. Remove the wings, thighs, drumsticks, and breasts from the chickens.
Place the carcasses, wings, necks, and innards that came inside the chicken on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. For a lighter flavour, skip this step.
Place the bones, feet, and vinegar in a stockpot or slow cooker, and cover with the cold water. If using a stockpot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. If using a slow cooker, turn the temperature to high.
Once simmering, reduce heat to low, cook for 30 minutes, skimming and discarding the scum that rises to the top. Add the ice and skim off any fat that congeals on the top along with any other scum or impurities. Simmer uncovered for 12 to 15 hours, adding more water as necessary just to keep the bones covered.
Add the carrots, onions, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves and simmer for another 5 hours. Continue to skim off any impurities; add water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered.
Gently strain or ladle the liquid through a fine- mesh strainer into a container. Fill your sink with ice water. Place the container of broth in the ice bath to cool for about 1 hour. Use the broth right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to one year. Remove any fat that has solidified on the top before using. You may discard this fat or use it as you would any other cooking fat.
To make the stew In a large bowl, combine the garlic, 1/ 2 teaspoon of the sea salt, and the dried oregano. Add the chicken thighs and rub the seasoning into the chicken until evenly coated; set aside.
You can also cover and refrigerate the chicken thighs and marinate for 2 to 24 hours. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the ghee or oil in a cast- iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat.
Pat the chicken thighs dry. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, in the hot ghee or r oil, spacing them evenly, and co ok for 6 to 8 minutes, until the skin n begins to brown.
Turn the chicken thig hs and brown on the opposite s side for 5 minutes. Remove f from the skillet and set aside. .
In the same skillet over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, capers s, and the remaining 1/ 2 teaspoon sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon slices.
Add the white wine an nd deglaze the skillet, stirri ing to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom. . Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of chicken n broth, return the thighs to the skillet, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for r 5 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts and olives and continue simmering for r 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken thighs from the skillet, pull the meat from the bones, and add the chicken meat back into the skillet and stir to distribute evenly.
To serve, scoop the stew into serving bowls and garnish with chopped fresh oregano.
The stew or any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for up to six months. – Recipe from The Bare
Bones Broth Cookbook by Ryan and
Canora has been ladling out bone broths by the cupfuls – like one would coffee – since 2014 from his little takeout window at Brodo. ( right) he now sells 150 to 190 litres of bone broths daily.
canora sneaks six cups of broth into his smoky pork risotto with pancetta and corn for a rich flavour.
For a golden colour and richer and more robust flavour, roast the bones before putting to the boil. — Brodo
Popular arthritis supplements are made of glucosamine- rich shells of lobster and shrimps so this shrimp broth is a natural way to support connective tissue growth and ease joint pain. — Bare Bones Broth Cookbook