Dr. Francis Pottenger MD considered the stockpot the most important piece of equipment in the kitchen. Note that it wasn’t the grain grinder or the bread pans!
I have no doubt in my mind that the most important time I spend in the kitchen for my family is the time spent making bone broth and soups and other dishes using it.
This may seem a bit shocking at first, but homemade stock as a regular feature in your diet will improve your health much more than homemade bread will! Make sure the time you spend in the kitchen gets you the most bang for your buck health-wise.
Not all time spent in the kitchen is created equal!
History of Bone Broth
Since before the dawn of human civilization, bone broth, or stock as it is commonly known, has played a pivotal role in human health.
Primitive cultures practiced grinding the bones of small animals with water to make a mineral rich paste.
As human culture advanced, bones were cooked in water to make stock which was consumed on its own or used as a base for soups, sauces and stews. In cultures that did not consume dairy products, broth including bone marrow was absolutely critical. It supplied plentiful calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the proper proportions to the diet.
In Asia, bone broth is traditionally consumed with every meal – even breakfast. During my travels in Japan in the late 1980’s, fish broth was a regular feature on the breakfast table and was sometimes mixed with a bit of miso for additional flavor.
Bone broth is found in other traditional cuisines from around the world on nearly every inhabited continent including Africa, South America, North America, Europe, and Asia. Interestingly, study of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia makes no mention of any special use or preparation of bones into pastes or broths.
Bone Broth Health Benefits
Properly prepared bone broths as practiced by traditional cuisines are extremely nutritious and beneficial for 3 key reasons. This includes bone and meat stocks:
- They supply plentiful and easily absorbed nutrients to the diet such as silicon, sulphur and phosphorous as well as trace minerals. Calcium in broth is surprisingly not so plentiful according to research. Quality is important to avoid issues with lead.
- Stock supplies the broken down materials from cartilage and tendons like glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates which aid the healthy and painfree maintenance of joints in the body.
- Bone broths supply natural, unadulterated gelatin to the diet which is a health boon to many tissues of the body including of course the cartilage, bones, and joints but also the skin, digestive tract, and muscles including the heart.
Bone Broth Protein
The protein in bone broth comes from the gelatin. It is true that gelatin is not a substitute for meat as it is not a complete protein. It contains only the amino acids proline and glycine in large amounts and others like methionine, histidine and tyrosine in very small amounts. The amino acid tryptophan is completely lacking in gelatin.
Despite containing only 2 amino acids in sufficient quality, gelatin does indeed act as a remarkable protein sparer. This means that much less meat is needed to maintain health when gelatin in the diet is present.
Eating Broth Means Less Meat
In other words,“sparing” protein, means that the body is much less likely to use protein from its own muscles. This is what would happen during times of economic austerity or illness when rapid weight loss would potentially occur with little food consumed or available. Gelatin keeps the body in what researchers called “nitrogen balance” by permitting less complete proteins to be consumed with no loss of health observed.
This research was reported by Carl Voit in 1860. His experiments sparked further experimentation which revealed that the amount of meat in the diet could be reduced by more than half through the addition of gelatin with good health maintained.
From a practical perspective, including plenty of broth in the family’s menu makes a tight food budget much more manageable as meat is typically one of the most expensive items on the shopping list.
Gelatin Improves Protein Digestion
In addition to its protein sparing abilities, gelatin also enhances digestion through improved utilization and absorption of other proteins in the diet such as those from beans, dairy, wheat, oats, and barley though not of corn as shown in research from the early 1900’s.
The improved digestive effect of gelatin was shown by Carl Voit to specifically improve the flow of digestive juices and normalization of the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The amino acid glycine which is abundant in gelatin is responsible for the encouragement of this flow of gastric juices.
Besides normalizing the gastric process, gelatin contains hydrophilic colloids which means that instead of repelling gastric juices like other cooked foods, gelatin attracts them in a manner similar to raw food.
Dr. Francis Pottenger MD found that the simple addition of one half ounce to one ounce of gelatin to a fully cooked meal of potatoes, meat and vegetables would allow the digestive process to proceed smoothly so that all the components of the meal are acted upon by the digestive process with equal effect.
Bone Broth Detoxification
In addition to the remarkable bone broth nutrition, probably the most exciting thing about bone stock is it’s role in detoxification.
This is due to the large amounts of the amino acid glycine which assists the liver with its housecleaning duties. The simplest of all the amino acids, glycine can be produced by the body and is therefore not considered essential, although the ease of the body in manufacturing glycine as needed is probably highly contingent upon whether a person is in radiantly good health!
The ability of the liver to do its job sufficiently is limited by the amount of glycine that is available so it makes sense to provide the body with all that it could possible need!
Hint! Cooking chicken feet along with the rest of the chicken meat/bones in the simmering stockpot will add a lot of extra gelatin for a major boost in detoxification properties.
Broth Helps Heal Liver Disease
Dr. Reuben Ottenberg in 1935 suggested in the Journal of the American Medical Association that patients with jaundice or other liver problems be administered 5-10 grams of gelatin per day as food or via a powdered gelatin supplement to supply additional glycine to the diet in order to encourage normalized hepatic function.
Given the toxicity of our world today and the high level of chemicals in our air, water, and food, large amounts of glycine in the diet has become one way to assist the body with the nearly constant detoxification that is required to maintain health.
Homemade Bone Broth
My family of 5 can easily go through 2 gallons of homemade stock in a single week. My freezer is usually loaded to the brim with various kinds of broth. Common types of bone broth that I frequently make include fish, beef, and chicken. I also occasionally make venison, buffalo, lamb, turkey, duck, or even rabbit and goose! Varying the types of broth adds a nutritional as well as a nice flavor variety to dishes.
Tip: Make sure you label your broth containers as they pretty much all look the same after freezing!
Should you use plastic or glass for broth storage? It’s really up to you. If you use plastic, it is safe as long as it is a non-leeching type and you pour the broth in at room temperature. Never pour boiling hot broth into plastic as ALL plastic leeches when exposed to heat.
If you use glass, leave room at the top for expansion and use freezer safe jars to prevent accidents.
Traditional vs Commercial Bone Broth
First, commercial bone broths are typically packaged in toxic plastic or aseptic cartons lined with plastic. If shelf stable, the bone broth is boiling hot when poured into these containers. Even if the company claims that the plastic is the non-leeching kind, it will still leech toxins when coming into contact with a high temperature liquid.
Secondly, commercial bone broth is watered down. All but a single brand I’ve tested fails to gel in the refrigerator like homemade bone broth. If you’re interested, this is the brand that gels beautifully if you prefer to buy your broth. It’s expensive though! If you are looking for the most nutritious and beneficial bone broth that is economical too, however, make it yourself.
What Types of Bones Make Good Broth?
To get the most gelatinous and flavorful broth, it is extremely important to use get the right mix of bones. Make sure you use one of the following methods else the broth won’t gel.
- 1 whole, free range layer hen with neck and wings cut up
- 3-4 pounds of boney chicken parts which includes a combo of necks, backs, and wings
- The picked carcass of 2 meat chickens.
- For beef broth, use about 7 lbs bones total. The best ratio is 4 pounds of boney bones and 3 pounds of meaty bones (including marrow).
Note that you can mix bones if you like. I frequently mix chicken and turkey bones for example to produce the right mix for a pot of broth.
Types of Bone Broth and Stock
The instructions below outline a basic bone broth recipe using any type of poultry. This is the type most people start out with. Once you get comfortable, you can branch out and try other bone broth recipes
- Turkey broth
- Fish broth
- Shrimp stock
- Crawfish stock
- Lobster broth
- Pork broth
- Rabbit broth
- Goose stock
- Duck broth
- Bonito broth
This detailed article on the healthiest and best broth will help you decide which types you may want to incorporate into your kitchen routine on a regular basis.
Organic Bone Broth
Compared to conventional, organic bone broth will always be the best tasting. It will also be the most nutritious, producing little to no scum (off flavors and toxins) that requires skimming when the broth is brought to a boil. Hence, if your food budget can include organically sourced bones, it is worth the extra cost!
However, any bone broth is better than none at all. So, if you cannot afford organic bones, use conventional. Just be prepared to spend a few minutes with each batch to carefully remove the foam as you are making it.
Can You Use Bones to Make Broth More than Once?
You can definitely use bones more than once to make multiple pots of bone broth. Remouillage is the name of this frugal French cooking method. It is guaranteed to save you a lot of money over time! Typically, I use poultry bones twice. Harder bones such as beef, bison or pork I use up to three or four times before throwing them out. I only use fish bones once, however, as they tend to disintegrate after one pot of bone broth is made.
Seasoning Bone Broth Soup
If you don’t have time to add veggies and/or meat to transform bone broth into soup, you can just add seasoning and sip it as is! Adding sea salt, a crushed garlic clove and some kelp flakes is quick and tasty. I outline other suggestions for perfectly seasoned broth in this linked article.
Traditional Homemade Bone Broth Recipe
Homemade bone broth recipe using the optimal proportion of bones and meat to achieve a stock that is loaded with gelatin for maximum health benefits and gut healing. Bonus, you may mix different types of bones if necessary.
- 1 whole chicken preferably pastured or free range
- filtered water enough to cover
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar preferably organic packed in glass bottles
- 2-3 carrots preferably organic
- 2-3 celery stalks preferably organic
- 1 large onion preferably organic
- 1 bunch fresh parsley preferably organic
- 2-4 chicken feet optional (adds extra gelatin)
Place the whole chicken or chicken bones in a large pot and cover with filtered water.
Add vinegar and chopped vegetables except for the parsley. Let stand for 30 minutes to allow vinegar to being to pull minerals from the bones and veggies.
Add lid and place on the stovetop burner on high.
Bring to a boil, remove lid, and skim off foam with a large, slotted wooden or stainless steel spoon (not a plastic one!). The foam are off flavors. This step will significantly improve the flavor of the bone broth.
Reduce heat, replace lid and simmer for 6-24 hours.
10 minutes before bone broth is done add parsley. Replace lid and simmer for the final 10 minutes. This will add additional minerals to the bone broth.
Turn off heat, remove lid and strain stock. Soft bones may be given to your pet or discarded. The vegetables make great compost. Meat can be used for chicken salad, sandwiches or Mexican dishes.
Place strained bone broth in containers in the fridge once cooled to room temperature.
Skim fat off the top of refrigerated bone broth and store in separate containers for use in cooking. This process is actually even easier if you freeze the broth first.
Freeze bone broth that you will not use within 5 days.
Turkey, goose, and duck stock are made basically with the exact same process as above.
If you make chicken stock with leftover bones, browning them in the oven first will add extra flavor to your broth.
If you bone broth tastes bland, this article on seasoning stock is helpful.
I would recommend not using white vinegar for making broth as it is usually derived from GMO corn.
How to Make Chicken and Beef Bone Broth
It’s a good idea to fully embrace stock making in your home if you haven’t already. Throw out those soup cans and stock tetra-packs which are nothing but water, MSG, and BPA anyway. Even if organic, there is no comparison with the nutrition of homemade stocks and soups that improve health tremendously.
The video below demonstrates the written chicken broth recipe above. This recipe is the same for other types of poultry including duck, turkey, and goose. You can also make it from game birds such as quail. The tutorial also covers homemade beef broth. Use the beef broth recipe to make venison, lamb, bison or pork broth.
Bone Broth FAQ
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.