Bone broth might not sound appetizing, but its growing popularity declares otherwise. This rich broth is made by simmering joints (especially meaty ones) in water, usually with herbs and aromatics. The protein and collagen in the flavorful broth has several unique health benefits.
You can drink bone broth on its own, or use it as a base for soups, stews, risotto and other dishes that require stock. The nutrients and flavor will help make your meal one of the best—and healthiest—you’ve ever tasted.
This traditional stock is easy to make, lends itself well to customizations and has plenty of health benefits.
Make your own bone broth
Commercially available bone broth seems to be everywhere now, although the nutritional content is likely to vary. Bone broth can be expensive, but you can easily make your own. It’s a hands-off project perfect for weekends, and can form the basis of your meals for the week ahead.
The key to great bone broth (and stock in general) is to simmer it low and slow for hours. As you simmer, the water leaches out collagen, protein and flavor from the meat and bones. Using meaty joints, like knucklebones and feet, will improve the nutritional content and add more flavor. Adding an acidic ingredient like apple cider vinegar to the broth will further help extract nutrients.
While there are no hard and fast recipes or rules, this guide will help you create your own delicious bone broth. You’ll need a large stock pot, instant pot or slow cooker to help you achieve the “low and slow” cooking time. Some people save bones and carcasses in the freezer until they’re ready to create their next batch. Pro tip: save the ends of your carrots, celery and onions in the same freezer bag for a ready-made bone broth kit.
As you make more bone broth, you’ll quickly put your own twists on the formula. Adding herbs near the end can subtly enhance the flavor, while certain vegetables, meats and aromatics will produce very different results.
Health benefits of bone broth
Here are the top benefits of drinking bone broth:
- Stop the ravages of time: Getting older is a privilege, but that doesn’t mean you have to celebrate and welcome every new wrinkle and achy joint. Bone broth is loaded with collagen byproducts, like glutamine, gelatin and glycine. These amino acids help improve the skin’s appearance, hydration and elasticity.
- Boost your immune function: Glutamine is an amino acid that can also improve your intestinal walls. When your intestinal walls are weakened or damaged, it can affect your immune system. Make sure that you have a hard line of defense against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens by drinking plenty of bone broth.
- Helps digestive processes: The gelatin in bone broth can actually keep you regular. Gelatin bonds with water, which helps move food through the intestines properly. The amino acids in bone broth may also help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, although further research is needed.
- Get rid of those aches and pains: As we age, the cartilage in our joints can wear down, causing pain and inflammation. Chicken cartilage collagen has been shown to be effective in reducing stiffness, inflammation and pain in the joints, while gelatin can help with tissue repair. It might even be able to help prevent injuries in the first place.
- Get to sleep: If you have trouble sleeping, bone broth can help there, too. Glycine can support healthy sleep patterns, and has been shown to positively affect people with chronic insomnia. (Plus, there’s something very comforting about a hot cup of broth or soup before bed, especially when it’s cold outside.) Glycine helps regulate our internal clocks, and can help lower our body temperature—a signal to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep.
With all of those benefits—and virtually no downsides—bone broth is a great way to enhance your meals, boost your health and ensure that animal bones and meat scraps don’t go to waste. When you drink bone broth on a regular basis, you’re more likely to see the health benefits above.
Whether you buy your bone broth from a health food store or you decide to make it yourself, you might be surprised at how easy, tasty and enjoyable it is to add extra nutrients to your diet.