BONNE ap­petit!

The cu­ri­ous case of bone broth – a Stone Age soup revived as a much- hyped 21st cen­tury su­per­food.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By ABIRAMI DURAI star2@hes­

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.

Ba­sic process

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.

How long?

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


Serves 4

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

Kather­ine Har­vey

— Photos: Brodo

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

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