The Benefits of Bone Broth

This is part 5 in the year-long series on Traditional Foods.   January focused on sweeteners, and February focuses on homemade, old-fashioned, nutrient-dense bone broth.   And, my apologies for posting this section of the Traditional Foods Primer   a touch late,

There is nothing like a homemade broth – rich, fragrant and glistening with droplets of golden fat.   It’s an essential aspect of good cooking.   Homemade bone broth offers the depth of flavor that its storebought counterpart simply can’t parallel. It’s also an extraordinarily inexpensive food, especially for its nutritive value.   Beyond its culinary uses and economic benefits, bone broth is remarkably healthful.

Culinary Uses

Broths made from bones have been used across the globe throughout human history.   Nearly every traditional society boiled bones of meat-giving animals to make a nutritive broth.   It is deeply flavorful, but versatile and can provide the base for soups, sauces, gravies as well as providing a cooking medium for grains and vegetables.

In our home, we inevitably have a crockpot of perpetually brewing poultry stock bubbling away on the counter.   And we use it everyday.   When I braise vegetables, I use bone broth.   Or we use it to baste roasting meats.   Or, of course, in the soups, sauces and gravies we eat throughout the week.

While bone broth is technically a stock, and not a broth the terms are often used   interchangeably.

Frugal Benefits

Bone broths are remarkably inexpensive to make.   Many times you can prepare a decent broth for the cost of energy used to heat your pot alone.   By using the bones from leftover roast chickens matched with vegetable scraps you’ve saved, you can make a gallon of   stock for pennies.   In getting to know your butcher or local rancher, you can often acquire beef or lamb bones for free.

Preparing your own stock at home can possibly save you more money over time than any other kitchen endeavor.   Consider that a one-quart package of Pacific Organic Broth will set you back at least $4.75 at most grocers, but making your own bone broth from kitchen scraps will cost you only the pennies needed for energy use.   And it tastes better.

Health Benefits

As I mentioned earlier, bone broth has been prepared in kitchens, hearths and firesides throughout history.   And, in many ways, it’s a lost art.   Home cooks have simply forgotten how easily a broth is made and how worthwhile it is to make this low-cost, highly nutritive food a regular part of the family diet.

As the bones cook in water – especially if that water has been made slightly acidic by the inclusion of cider vinegar – minerals and other nutrients leach from the bones into the water.   Homemade broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals.   The minerals in broth are easily absorbed by the body.   Bone broth even contains glucosamine and chondroiton – which are thought to help mitigate the deletorious effects of arthritis and joint pain.     Rather than shelling out big bucks for glucosamine-chondroitin and mineral supplements, just make bone broth and other nutritive foods a part of your regular diet.

Further, homemade bone broths are often rich in gelatin.   Gelatin is an inexpensive source of supplementary protein.   Gelatin also shows promise in the fight against degenerative joint disease.   It helps to support the connective tissue in your body and also helps the fingernails and hair to grow well and strong.

Why Not Boxed/Tinned Broth

Boxed and canned broths and stocks are commercially available, and you can even purchase organic and free-range meat broths; however, these watery stocks pale by comparison to both the nutrient density and flavor of homemade bone broths.   These commercially prepared broths are often asceptically packaged and highly processed.   And expensive!

Save yourself money and maximize the flavor and nutrient density of your foods by incorporating broth into your diet more regularly.   Want to know more?   Check back next week and I’ll teach you how to make bone broth from leftover roast chicken.