When you stop to grab dinner for your family on the way home, how often do you grab one of those whole roasted chickens (doesn’t really matter from where…)?
If you do, do you throw all the bones, skin, carcass in the trash after you’ve eaten the meat? Wait…don’t answer! Just TELL ME THAT YOU DON’T…or at least, promise that you won’t? … Please don’t waste that carcass!!!
Bone Broth is INCREDIBLY good for you. And SOOOOOPER easy to make. Whether you’re using up the last of your Thanksgiving turkey, or you roasted a “Rosie the Free Range Chicken” for dinner, maybe you grabbed a regular ol’ roasted non-organic bird from Von’s, or even picked up a to-go rotisserie deal from Benny’s, never EVER throw out your bones. Trust me.
I mean really, how many recipes call for chicken broth? Sure, you can buy that boxed organic broth: Pacific, Imagine, or there’s Simple Truth at Ralph’s and “O” brand at Von’s. You can go un-organic with Swanson, Tyson, or Costco’s Kirkland brand. Or there’s old school Campbell’s in a can or even the OG like my mom sometimes used on the fly: bouillon cubes.
But why pay ANY money at all for ANY of them, when you can make it yourself for FREE? And therefore be absolutely certain that you know what’s in it? I mean free of ADDITIVES (ie: MSG – a neurotoxic substance that causes a wide range of reactions, from temporary headaches to permanent brain damage (1)) & no added sodium (read “low-sodium”), and even better if you’ve used an organic free-range chicken, NO GMOs! (Don’t get me started.)
Even more importantly, store bought broth is just not as good for you. No really, it’s not. Even organic brands can use high temperature, flash-cooking techinques. You get broth that is watered down, it doesn’t gel up and you won’t get all the nutrients and benefits of the gooey gelatin from true bone broth made from bone marrow(a). Store bought commercial broths will fake these “thickening effects” with emulsifiers but the true health benefits are lost (1).
Don’t have the time you say? Nah. Watch and learn. easy peasy.
Put the whole friggin’ thing in a big ol’ pot. Fill the pot with water. Boil. You can simmer on low for a few hours, or let it cook and cook and cook for twenty four hours – one gets you more bone for your buck, but both are totally valid. Go ahead, put the lid on, set the flame low, and go take a shower! Or cook dinner, or watch a TV show, or help the kids with homework. You can even do it in your slow cooker while you are at WORK! No excuses.
And did I mention HOW GOOD IT IS FOR YOU? Well, we’ll get to that later…
Ok, hold up, first things first. Directions:
I mentioned the boiling bit. If you are making JUST A Bone Broth, and you aren’t planning on making soup of any kind at the moment (fyi, you can use the broth to make many kinds of soup later), then literally add nothing but water, purified if possible. We have a reverse osmosis spout on our kitchen sink. But really, since its gonna boil, even tap is ok. If you have a meat hammer and can crack up the bones a bit great, if not, no worries. If you happen to have some ACV (apple cider vinegar), particuraly Bragg’s, add it too as it helps break down the bones to access the goodness & marrow. Boil it till it falls apart. You want a nice layer of fatty greasy goodness on top of the water and all kinds of really small weird looking, unidentifiable chicken parts floating around. Boil it with the lid ON, but slightly ajar, so as not to let all the water evaporate. If you do run low on water, add more and keep on boiling. Boil it down the the bare bones (get it? – amazing where these expressions really come from!).
If you think you might want to make it into a soup, or are interested in a basic seasoning that covers all the bases, throw in a bay leaf or two while you simmer. I always do, as this is what my mom did. My kids even have a “who gets the bay leaf” hunt when we have soup ’cause there’s always at least one that makes it all the way to the table.
Right now, I’m going to stick with simple Chicken Stock and we can do some soup stuff later. And btw, bone broth can be made of ANY leftover carcass, not just poultry! Had BarBQ ribs last night? boil ’em down! A Honeybaked Ham on Easter? Oh I love hambone soup…BONES ARE GOOOOOOD.
Oh right, so now, you’ve let it simmer forever and you’ve got all the stuff floating around, what do you do?
It’s time to sift. Let the broth cool WAY DOWN so you can touch it. And take off your rings if your’re worried about them, as your hands and fingers will get greasy. I am a real hands-all-in kinda cook; Why use a tool when you can just reach right in? But if you want to stay a bit cleaner, try using a slotted spoon, or a strainer for this party.
Put that cooled vat of chicken stuff right alongside three medium sized bowls. You might only need two, but in my house there are three: 1) Remaining delicious usable chunks of chicken. 2) Actual bones. 3) Skin, cartlidge, fat etc that I can give to my dogs
(if you do this for your hounds, PLEASE be EXTRA careful to sort throught the mess several times – a single tiny chicken bone can choke your pupster to death and even large ones can splinter wrong in their throat and they’ll be a goner.) I LOVE my pups, who by the way, wait directly under my feet the entire time I am making broth as they know the smell so well(!), so I always treat them to some yummy tidbits of organic chicken goodness.
So now what to do with this mess? Well, the part that is ok for the doglettes, I don’t give them all at once because that’s a whole lotta grease and fat in one gulp. Instead, I portion it out to them for the next few days as treats and in thier kibble. They LOVE LOVE LOVE it! The bowl that is all bones, wrap up tight in a compostable bag and put in the BLACK garbage can. And all the yummy bits of chicken that you found and didn’t even know you had? Well, this is good stuff! Whole other meals can be made from it. I like to freeze it and use later for things like Chicken Salad, shepherd’s pie, & other soup recipes. Instead of a canned chicken, you have your frozen! (so much money saved this way! make the very MOST out of your meal and your money!)
*Fun Part* – When you boil a whole foul, you will recover the WISHBONE from the pot eventually! How fun is that? This was a ritual for me growing up, and I believe my kids find it as fun as I did everytime. Let that fercula dry for a day and then you can go for it! Two loved ones or friends, kids or a couple, or strangers for that matter, should hold onto the two “handles” at the base of the fork. Hold them with the thumb and forefinger only! Each of you, make a wish…Wait…Make sure no one is cheating by inching up the stem of the bone now… and on the count of three, PULL (not UP but OUT). Whoever gets the head or top of the bone where it connects, well, their wish will come true.
*Fun Fact* – The furcula (“little fork” in Latin) or wishbone is a forked bone found in birds and some other animals, and is formed by the fusion of the two clavicles. In birds, its primary function is in the strengthening of the thoracic skeleton to withstand the rigors of flight.
As for the Bone Broth, that liquid gold…
How do you save it to use in the future?
Ok, so you have this VERY gelatinous thick almost solid goop. BONE BROTH. Very concentrated (especially if you boiled it for a VERY long time – ideally 24 hours). You may notice that it has separated into layers. There will be a thick fatty skim on top, a gooey jelloey middle kinda like consome, in fact, it IS consome (Oh jeez…do I have a story about THAT but maybe another time…), and on the bottom are little bits of solid stuff – chicken meat and such, but really tiny bits.
If you’re like me, you will use some of this treasure in the very near future. You’d be surprised how very many recipes call for chicken broth. You might be cooking rice, or quinoa, or cous cous; Always use 1/2 broth! Say you are making soup. Yep it always needs broth. Steaming spinach or any veggie for that matter? Always steam with 1/2 broth, braising too. What about a pasta sauce? Yep, you’ll need to add broth. Not kidding. If you cook at home, you’ll need the broth. So, put some in a jar and keep it in the fridge. Right, those pickles that are almost empty? Eat the last one, dump the juice, rinse the glass bottle, and fill it with this bone broth. Make sure to get proportioned amounts of all three layers. Then, keep it handy. You’ll use that jar full in the next few weeks…
If you need it to last for a bit longer, or you made a whole bunch from a big bird, then you’ll have to freeze or can it. Hold on… Don’t get overwhelmed! It’s way easier than you think, canning that is. I typically don’t freeze because I don’t like to freeze in plastic and glass expands in the freezer. So are you ready? Here we go…
First, you’ll need a big pot. Not just big, but deep (the water will have to cover the tops of the submerged glass canning jars). I have my mother’s canning pot which I LOVE, and is totally worth having (if you think you’ll use it at least a few times a year, I suggest you invest). The thing that’s great about a canning pot is the wire canning rack that fits right inside. You see, the jars can’t touch the bottom of the pan or they will shatter. So if you’re using any ol’ big ol’ pot, be sure you put something on the bottom of the pan to disperse the heat – like an opened collandar or similar. (There are a few basic canning tools that you might be tempted to buy, but none of which are really necessary, they just make it all a bit easier if it’s going to be a “thing” you do).
Anyway, fill the pot with water almost to the top, turn on the heat, let it get to a rolling boil.
Next, you will need some canning jars (Ball Jars, Mason Jars, etc). Pint sized is good because you’ll use it up in several meals and it won’t stand open in the fridge too long. I buy mine at Ralph’s. If you have an old hardware store in town that carries them, that’s fun and nostalgic. We had a great visit to the vintage hardware store in Dunsmuir, just outside of Shasta, this past Labor Day. Darling place! Been there since 1894, and it had a great selection of canning supplies (http://www.dunsmuirhardware.com/). But you can also get them at Target, Wallmart, Amazon.com, etc.
Ok, Gonna make this short…
Sterilize the jars, lids & rings by rinsing in really hot water. Let the lids & rings soak. Fill the jars with broth (again be sure to get proportionate amounts of all three layers of goodness). WIPE THE RIMS of the jars carefully (if there is stuff on there, they won’t seal). Place the warm lid on the top, then put on the metal ring loosely. Submerge the jars in the pot of boiling water. Leave them there for 12-18 minutes, turning the boil down just a bit. Removing them is easier if you have a wire rack, or a set of canning tongs, but doable if you don’t, you just need some kinda tong to reach into the boiling water, and not mess with the lids too much or you might undo the seal. Set the jars to cool in a flat area. Do not touch them. As they cool, you will hear a “popping” sound as each one sets its seal. SUCH A GREAT NOISE! Like popping a champagne cork! Woo Hoo! Celebratory as you know you’ve succeeded in sealing the jar! When they’ve fully cooled, wipe them down, and you can store them for ALL TIME! Amazing really. They are sealed so as long as they are refridgerated, they last FOR EVAAAAH.
AWESOME right? But here’s the REALLY AWESOME part (if I haven’t lost you and you’re still reading)…
WHY IT IS SO DARN GOOD FOR YOU!
Here’s a quick bit o’ history. Basically every culture agrees in the healing property of bone broth…let’s review a few:
The use of gelatin as a theraputic agent dates back to the ancient Chinese (1). Traditional Chinese Medecine (TCM) uses bone broth to strengthen the kidney, support the digestive system, and build blood (2). It is a Qi & blood builder (3). Bone broths are nutrient-dense, and include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and incorporate the marrow of the animal. Marrow helps our Jing essence (essence from the Kidney). “Bone marrow is produced by Kidney Jing, so infusing it in bone broth is like drinking a cup of Jing” (3).
But what is Kidney Jing? TCM tells us we are all born with it. It is the “essence” we are given from our mom and dad at birth. There is a sort of “reserve” of this energy in all of us and as we age, we begin to use it up. When we are stressed, work too hard, have too much “fun,” are short on sleep, or otherwise over-tax ourselves, our Kidney essence becomes deficient and we become exhausted. Filling up your resevoir again is wonderful! (3) Thus the bone broth!
We’ve heard all of the slogans from the 90’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” etc. Those don’t come from thin air. “Fish broth will cure anything,” is another South American proverb. (1) All proverbs arrive from years of repitition of knowledge. They should always be taken seriously, not with a grain of salt!
“The term “Jewish penicillin” is used for chicken soup, because it is known to inhibit cell inflammation and mitigate cold symptoms. And the English have sipped beef tea, or beef broth, since the Victorian era.” (2)
In 1682, Denis Papin, a Frenchman, invented a kind of pressure cooker called the “digestor,” that cooked bones or meat with steam to extract the gelatin. In the same way that we take vitamins to answer our current nutritional shortages, gelatin was the go to 200 years ago, particularly in France. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing primarily the amino acids arginine and glycine, but a little goes a long way and much broth can be made of a few measely bones. “During the siege of Paris, when vegetables and meat were scarce, a doctor named Guerard put his patients on gelatin bouillon with some added fat and they survived in good health.”(1)
Through the 1950’s the French were the leaders in gelatin research. Again, think consome right? In a French restaurant, you can literally order a bowl of plain beef gelatin. They found it useful in the treatment many diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. (1)
The American researcher Francis Pottenger (Pottenger’s Cats) stated that gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, thus it attracts and holds liquids & facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices towards the food in the gut. (1)
Famed and oft quoted French gastronome Brillant-Savarin stated that “Soup is a healthy, light, nourishing food…good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion.”(1) But of course he is better known for having coined the expression “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Or as we say nowadays: You are what you eat. He was a pretty smart guy that Brillant-Savarin, also coming up with the theory that sugar and white flour were the cause of obesity and suggested eating only protein-rich ingredients of which bone broth was one. I think he was on to something.
WAIT! did I lose you??? Was the history lesson too boring?
Hey – I’m just trying to show you how IMPORTANT it is to not throw away those bones, remember?
And finally, some brass tack factual reasons WHY bone broth is healthy (4, 5):
- reduces pain & inflammation, makes your joints more supple
- helps you have healthier hair, skin, & nails
- heals your gut & promotes healthy digestion
- reduces your need for meat & protein
- helps get the toxins out.
- promotes healthy bones.
- helps promote healthy sleep
- inhibits infection
I could go into GREAT detail on each of these, but I’d just have to quote directly from the articles below ’cause they are so well written and fun. Instead, just click on those links at the end. They’re awesome.
Bones are good for your bones. And more.
OOOOOPS! I was going to give you some recipes. WHAT??? How did that happen?
Really, this article has been long winded enough. How about I write another blog soon as an addendum and include my very favorite Chicken Soup recipe? THE one and only? My Mother’s (I love you and miss you MOM). For now I will leave you of a picture of the soup that I was making today while I wrote this blog… No it’s not Chicken Soup, rather homemade homegrown pumpkin. But guess what is one of only eight ingredients? YES!!! You guessed it! ….Chicken Bone Broth!
Until next month…keep drooling! xo Coby
Coby Dahlstrom (aka #mrsdrdahl)