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.

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What people are saying

  1. Josefina says

    What about gelatin for digestive health?

    Hmm, inexpensive? Sadly not for me and most people I know who make bone broth (we pay $2-3 per pound). Where do you live where butchers and ranchers are so kind to give them away for nothing?:)

    • vickie says

      To Sam:

      “Kind words are short, and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa

    • Mumsy says

      I purchase beef bones, cut, in Ohio for .49/pound in Amish country. It makes a wonderful bone broth! SOOO delicious! When you sip it, you feel like you are getting everything your body needs from it. Very satisfying and comforting.

      The cows the bones come from are under a year old, and I fill a table roaster oven with about 19 pounds of bones, and make a full roaster of broth. Then it can be canned or frozen. I always make soup immediately from some of it. My family enjoys sipping it as well.

      So see if you can find someone who sells the bones for less cost. It sounds like you are paying more for them than is to be expected,

      • Janna R says

        Actually according to Westin A Price Foundation, the canning of bone broth destroys the nutrients. I learned that the hard way.

        • Barbara Smith says

          Thanks you for telling us…about the nutritive value being wiped out by high heat in the canning process.
          (ie the Weston Price Foundation)
          What about freezing? Anything lost there??

    • Toni Poole says

      I live in south Louisiana and I go to the butcher and ask for dog bones. It’s the same thing as you use for bone broth, they are fine to use. It is also free. They give them away. I’m actually cooking some now and will be ready to start cooling in a few hours.

      • Barbara Smith says

        Smart idea!
        True. Why wouldn’t they be the same?!! Of course! WHY didn’t I think of that!
        ” WOW! I could have had a V-8 ” moment : )
        Thank you for posting and to know this is indeed an encouragement.
        But….
        As BONE Broth becomes popular…and the WORD I
        IS getting out..more butchers ARE infact charging!

        It is better to get your bones from GRASS-FED meats (Poultry, lamb, turkey, BEEF etc)
        So as not to use the bones of STRESSED out animals from our local slaughter houses
        where the animals are either in cages, or standing in moist cow dung all day.
        I think that place finally shut down!

        Rainbow Ranch Farms in Pinion Hills, California, sells Bones (for Bone-broth)
        that are FREE from SOY< CORN< WHEAT etc. feed…so you will be getting really good quality stuff.

    • Toni Poole says

      my butcher gives me free bones. I ask for dog bones. I live in South Louisiana. They either come cut up or they are whole ribs. Just any bones that they have on had and again, I get them for free. I have some cooking now and should be ready to cool in an hour or two. I also cook mine for 24 hours.

      • jazz says

        I think I just figured out you are referring to bones meant for dogs to eat not bones from dogs…I was thinking where on earth in Louisiana does this girl live to be eating dogs from a butcher…lol…context context…lol

        It actually is just pennies if you have already bought the chicken anyway, I make mine in a crock pot and just keep it on like forever, it doesn’t boil over which has been an issue I have had in the past.

    • says

      I buy the bones for my broth for 99 cents a pound. Between the two cities in my area is a butcher. He is conveniently located for the area farmers to bring in their cows, pigs, etc. for slaughter. Using google maps, I did a search in my area for “butcher” and called asking if they carried bones for bone broth. It seems reasonable that everyone should be able to find a nearby butcher for bone broth the same way I did.

      They were glad to see me and were happy to cut the bones to any size that I wanted for my bone broth. For my bone broth, I wanted 1 inch cuts. For a good bone broth stock, I order 6 pounds of bones and have the bones shrink wrapped into 2 pound bone broth packages. I call ahead and they prepare special packages just for me

      -good luck!

  2. Sam says

    She said YOUR leftover bones, stupid. If you roast a chicken, make a brown stock with the bones. Get it? Actually a broth is usually made with meat AND bones, stocks are bones. ratios: broth, 10lbs meat/bones, 5qts water, 1lb mirepoix, 1ea sachet d’epice or bouqet garni. Stock, 8lbs bones, 5-6qts water, 1lb mirepoix, 1ea sachet or bouqet. Simple.

      • LA says

        Hannah, i Totally Agree… it’s rude People expect others to see the world , read and comprehend exactly how they do. it’s also arrogance and un-called for

    • Mara says

      “In getting to know your butcher or local rancher, you can often acquire beef or lamb bones for free.”
      And that’s why you should learn to read before attacking people that are simply questioning in a banal manner. You are seriously offensive, Sam.
      Josefina-I agree. Living in Chicago the only places to obtain broth bones are in grocery stores. Perhaps in more rural areas where personal relationships between butcher or rancher may be made there is more of an opportunity for free bones. Great question about the digestive health as well. You must be well read in terms of your bone broths.

      • Jenna says

        Mara – Chicago has some really awesome farmer’s markets where some excellent ranchers/butchers sell their wares. Don’t be so quick to say that rural areas have more access to these things. Ask my parents: they can’t get half the great organic/local food that I can because they live out in the boonies, but not next door to a rancher. :)

        Check out those markets. You will be surprised!

    • JL says

      Geez, what a lovely response. Note to other posters, don’t ask question or you will be called stupid by the group troll, Sam

      • nclovely1 says

        Is it any better to call Sam a troll than it was for him to call someone stupid? Maybe he couldn’t help it. Maybe he has phalangeal Tourettes.

    • kelly says

      wow. this type of rudeness is something i have come to expect at political sites… but definitely not here. so sad.

  3. Michael Spivey says

    Jenny,

    Did you post your recipes for bone broth? I can not seen to locate them using the search on the web site.

    Thanks

    Mike Spivey
    Las Vegas

  4. Eileen says

    Thank you for posting this wonderful article! Growing up, I remember there always seemed to be a constant pot of soup on the stove made from leftovers. Just this past week, I started making broth from leftover rotisserie chickens, and the broth is just so delicious. What’s even better is that I’ve been having broth for the past week because the carcasses made so much broth….and i didn’t have to spend an extra penny. Found this article when I wanted to learn more about the health benefits of eating bone broth, figuring there would be many considering how many minerals were in bone :) It looks like this broth is even better for me than I had hoped! Awesome.

  5. says

    I just read your post on bone broths and really enjoyed it. I just made some soup using homemade beef broth that I made yesterday and was searching around to see who else is making broth and if they are making it the same way I am:) It’s nice that you can get bones free at the farmers market. I have to pay for them at our farmers market, but they give a really nice gelled broth so it’s worth it. Great post!

  6. hip flask says

    Love bone broth…It’s the best. It’s a shame most people do not know the value of it. We should all be re-educated.

    • Barbara Smith says

      I concur.
      But in HOME ECONOMICS in the school systems we are all taught to make
      things that are bad for us , using ingredients that are REALLY bad for us.
      So what can a person do??? You hit the nail on the head!
      A RE-education in a parks& rec class OR local home school co-op OR anywhere where a group will
      gather to get FREE information…it starts with YOU, & with ME…one person at a time, telling other
      people : )

  7. Barbie says

    I would like to know how exactly to make the bone broth, how much water, how much bones and what else to put in it and whats the shelves life….

  8. Keely Meagan says

    By the way, you can add egg shells to your bone broth for extra joint-healing power. Also crustacean shells, though they can lend a bitter flavor,so don’t overdo it. The quality of the glucosamine and chondroitin in this broth is way better any you can buy in a pill.

    I save eggshells, bones and vegetable scraps in the freezer, then when I need more broth, I just pop them in a big pot, cover them with a couple inches of water, add vinegar, and let it simmer as long as I can, preferably for a couple days.

  9. says

    hello, in my family we are broth freks. we froze the chicken carcase. then when we have time, we make a big pot of broth with the carcase and the end of vegetables. when i cut the end of certain vegetables like leeks, the exterior of oignons I also freeze them. then i let thew broth cool in the fridge, take of the fat and freeze it in yogourt pot.
    wonderful!

  10. says

    Found your website while researching the health benefits of making your own homemade soups. I’ve subscribed to your newsletter. I will put a link to your site on mine (no return favor is expected or required). I just love your site. Been cooking about 40 years and making my own stocks from the bones for at least 35 of them. I also use the bones from beef, pork, veal or chicken when I make my homemade spaghetti sauce. Adds wonderful flavor in addition to the nutrients. Am always on the lookout for great recipes. Back in the day (the 60′s and 70′s) I was always an Adele Davis fan. Love to see young people today encouraging eating and preparing “real food.”

    • Barbara Smith says

      Kathy, am curious how much bone broth do you put in your spaghetti sauce?
      But the IDEA sounds nutritious : )
      Still searching for the PERFECT tasting sauce EVERY time…
      Even when I make it by scratch with organic tomatoes and the like,
      my husband does not like it…I might just be missing a particular
      flavor…not sure what it would be though…bone broth perhaps?? : )

  11. Karyn says

    Hey: that Sam person should be banned from the discussions as he obviously has anger issues.
    But that aside, I applaud the “newbie” cook for finding out about the terrific health benefits from bone broth and in fact all the items that the Nourished Kitchen discusses. I have been cooking for years and years and “newbie” you keep at it and ignore the rude people in the world.

  12. Gavin says

    I think I could easily get bones for cheap; but organic bones… not so much. I live hours away from any organic meat farm or butcher. So does anyone know if I can acquire cheap organic bones from Whole Foods? If not, do bones from conventionally raised animals still provide benefits?

    • kelly says

      gavin… i don’t have a butcher who will give bones away free anywhere near me, either… i do get mine from whole foods… they are from grass-fed, pastured beef (with an animal welfare rating of 4, if your’e into that kind of thing).

      i actually don’t remember how much they cost… maybe 1.50 a pound? still… even though it’s not as inexpensive as getting the bones free, i don’t mind paying because of the health benefits and the fabulous taste…

      • Beth says

        I highly recommend getting them directly from farmers, along with meat and other foods. You can often buy in bulk for a better price. There’s a wonderful national directory of grass-fed farms and food sources on http://www.eatwild.com. This way, you know the source of your food, you support family farms, and you can ask questions about how the animals are raised.

    • Barbara Smith says

      Not sure where you live…but Rainbow Ranch in Pinion Hills, California WILL ship
      to you.
      All their meats (lamb, goat, turkey, cow, pork, chicken are GRASS-fed animals with
      NO GMO feed, NO CORN, NO SOY, No WHEAT etc. in ANY of what their animals are fed. : )
      look them up on the internet, and call Xenia…she may have to call you back, as she
      gets busy on the farm…but she is FULL of good INFO & meats (bones)! : )

  13. Tamster says

    I had a wonderful teacher/mentor in school that said to never use commercially grown animals to broth.. The reason being is the poor diet and use of vaccines and antibiotics lead to heavy metal contamination which we don’t want to injest. Just a thought. I use local, grass fed, organic bones when possible. Once the meat is off the bones away we go with a whole other meal!

  14. says

    Just a thought for those living in areas like Chicago, have you tried an ethnic market, such as an Asian market? I believe you can also get chicken feet at them, and those make amazing broth with lots of gelatin. If you don’t mind the creep factor with chicken feet in your stock pot, anyway. I am fortunate. To have a friend who raises chickens (the healthy way) and she frequently blesses me with eggs, feet, and carcasses. I’m also a block from a butcher who gets all local meat (not all grassfed, but still not CAFO “farms” (I don’t consider THAT farming! !) And lots of Amish farms, but I’ve read on other blogs that people go to ethnic markets in big cities to get more traditional foods. Good luck!

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