Bone Broths- Homemade medicine!
“Good broth will resurrect the dead,” says a South American proverb. The medicinal value of bone broths has been largely forgotten in today’s society. Bone broths are extremely rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as gelatin, collagen and glucosamine. They are incredibly healing on the body; fortifying the immune system, soothing and enhancing digestion and nourishing everything related to collagen (joints, tendons, ligaments, skin, mucus membranes and bone).
Bone is highly mineralised, so it makes sense that long-cooked bone broths will be a rich source of minerals, in a liquid, easily absorbed form. Bone broths are a great source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate and fluoride with fish stocks being rich in iodine. It’s the gelatin component of a good broth that gives it its jelly-like consistency when cool. It’s also the gelatin that helps lubricate joints and builds blood.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, bone broth builds Blood and strengthen Kidney Qi function. Blood from an oriental perspective nurtures our vital Qi, our life force, and surplus Blood is seen in healthy hair, strong nails, a good memory, strong heart function and restful sleep. The Kidney Qi function controls bone health, head hair, long term memory, stamina, motivation, willpower, reproductive health, back health, and knee health.
Collagen (the protein molecule related to all things joint and bone) is also a rich source of two amino acids, proline and glycine. We need these two amino acids to heal, not only gaping wounds, but also the microscopic damage done to blood vessels and other tissues in our body caused by inflammation and infection. Collagen has been found to help heal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and the intestines and along with gelatin, has been shown to benefit gastric ulcers. (1)
Besides collagen, cartilage contains something called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Studies have found an underlying deficiency of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. (4) Correcting a deficiency and helping to repair a compromised gut wall is another good reason to consume bone broth regularly. Adding chicken feet, animal joints, and knuckles to a bone broth will increase the amount of collagen available.
Basics for making your own Broth
Stock or broth begins with bones, some pieces of meat and fat, vegetables and good water. For beef and lamb broth, the meat is browned in a hot oven to form compounds that give flavour and colour–the result of a fusion of amino acids with sugars, called the Maillard reaction. Then all goes in the pot–meat, bones, vegetables and water. The water should be cold, because slow heating helps bring out flavours. Add vinegar to the broth to help extract calcium.
Heat the broth slowly and once the boil begins, reduce heat to its lowest point, so the broth just barely simmers. Scum will rise to the surface. This is a different kind of colloid, one in which larger molecules–impurities, alkaloids, large proteins called lectins–are distributed through a liquid. One of the basic principles of the culinary art is that this effluvium should be carefully removed with a spoon. Otherwise the broth will be ruined by strange flavours. Besides, the stuff looks terrible. “Always Skim” is the first commandment of good cooks.
Two hours simmering is enough to extract flavours and gelatin from fish broth. Larger animals take longer–all day for broth made from chicken, turkey or duck and overnight for beef broth.
Broth should then be strained. The leavings, picked over, can be used for terrines or tacos or casseroles. Perfectionists will want to chill the broth to remove the fat. Stock will keep several days in the refrigerator or may be frozen in plastic containers. Boiled down it concentrates and becomes a jellylike fumée or demi-glaze that can be reconstituted into a sauce by adding water (also saves on freezer space when it’s precious).