The Bone Broth Bible

Bone broth is almost as trendy as avocado toast these days, and it only seems to be getting more popular. Frankly, though, we’re left wondering – what makes bone broth special? Is it the same as broth? Is it actually good for us? Do people really drink it out of mugs?

We asked LA nutritionist Jennie Miremadi all of our seemingly ridiculous questions, and she seriously delivered. Now experts, we present to you the bone broth bible. Guaranteed to boost joint health, make your hair shiny, and give you a healthy gut – recipes included.

1. What is bone broth (and, is there any difference between bone broth, broth and stock)?

To explain what bone broth is, it helps to first talk about the differences between bone broth, broth and stock. Differentiating between them can be confusing as these words are often used interchangeably. Most agree that bone broth, broth and stock all basically have these same ingredients: bones or meat (or both), vegetables, herbs/seasonings, and water.  The ingredients are simmered together and then everything but the liquid is strained and discarded.

However, while broth is primarily prepared with meat and a small number of bones, stock is typically made with mostly bones and then simmered with vegetables and herbs, and often wine or vinegar for several hours. Broths are pretty light, and generally thinner and cloudier than stocks. Stocks tend to be clearer, thicker, and more gelatinous than broths. Stocks are often used in restaurants, while broths tend to be used in home cooking.

While people have different takes on what bone broth is, the general consensus is that bone broth is nearly identical to stock, but is simmered for a longer amount of time than what is called for in most stock recipes. Although there isn’t a bright-line rule about how long bone broth needs to be cooked, most bone broth is simmered for at least twenty-four hours. And, a good bone broth contains vinegar to help extract minerals from the bones.

2. How do you drink bone broth?

Drink it out of a mug or a cup, like you would coffee.

3. Can you do anything with bone broth other than drinking it?

Yes. Bone broth makes the perfect base for your favorite soup or stew. You can braise meats in it, cook vegetables with it or make sauces out of it. Try using bone broth instead of water the next time you cook quinoa, lentils, or brown rice.

4. Why should you drink bone broth?

Here are some reasons why you may want to start drinking nutrient-rich bone broth:

Detox and liver support. Bone broth is loaded with the amino acid glycine. Not only does glycine play an active role as a cofactor in the first phase of liver detoxification, glycine is also one of three amino acids that make up glutathione, an important detoxification enzyme.

Beautiful skin. Bone broth is also rich in the amino acid proline, which you need for collagen formation. Collagen is one of the main proteins that gives skin its firmness.

Healthy bones. Bone broth is good source of calcium, which is essential for bone health.

Joint support. Chondroitin sulfate, found in bone broth, is often used as a supplement for joint pain in osteoarthritis, while hyaluronic acid, also found in bone broth, helps to lubricate joints.

Gut health. Bone broth is often recommended to those with gut issues like IBS, IBD or leaky gut because the gelatin in the bone broth is thought to help with digestion and may help soothe and protect the digestive tract lining.

Bone broth tastes great. Even aside from its potential health benefits, bone broth tastes delicious and can help enhance the flavors of other dishes.

5. How do you make bone broth?

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

Adapted from Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions

Ingredients:

3 pounds of bones from chicken (necks, backs, and wings), preferably pastured and organic

1 onion, cut in quarters

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 leek, coarsely chopped

1 bay leafs

3 thyme sprigs

1 bunch parsley

1/2 tsp black peppercorns

2 garlic cloves

3 cloves (optional)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cold water – 4 quarts (or enough to cover the bones and vegetables)

Directions:

Combine all bones, apple cider vinegar, and vegetables in a large stainless steel pot and cover with cold water.  Do not add herbs or garlic yet. Let mixture stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Bring mixture to a boil and skim off any scum rising to the top of the pot.

Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for up to 24 hours.

One hour before you finish cooking the bone broth, wrap bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and cloves in cheesecloth.  Add to bone broth and let simmer for remaining hour.

Strain bone broth with a fine mesh sieve, discarding all of the solid ingredients.

Skim off the layer of fat at the top of the bone broth.

Serve and store any extra bone broth in mason jars in your freezer.

Variations:

Turkey or Duck Bone Broth (adapted from Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions)

Turkey: 3 pounds of bones from turkey (wings and drumsticks), preferably pastured and organic.

Duck: 3 pounds of bones from duck (carcasses and wings with legs, thighs and breasts removed), preferably pastured and organic.

All other ingredients and directions are the same.

Beef Bone Broth Recipe

Adapted from Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions

Ingredients

4 pounds of beef knuckle and marrow bones, preferably from organic, grass-fed cows.

3 pounds neck bones or meaty rib bones, preferably from organic, grass-fed cows.

2 onions, cut in quarters

3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

2 leeks, coarsely chopped

2 bay leafs

5 thyme sprigs

1 bunch parsley

1 tsp black peppercorns

2 garlic cloves

4 cloves (optional)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Cold water – 6 quarts or more (or enough to cover the bones and vegetables)

Directions

Combine knuckle and marrow bones and apple cider vinegar in a large stainless steel pot and cover with cold water. Let mixture stand for 1 hour.

In a roasting pan, roast neck bones and meaty rib bones at 350 degrees until browned.

Add roasted bones and all vegetables to pot. Do not add herbs or garlic yet. Add more water to cover bones and vegetables, if necessary.

Bring mixture to a boil and skim off any scum rising to the top of the pot.

Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for up to 48 hours.

One hour before you finish cooking the bone broth, wrap bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and cloves in cheesecloth. Add to bone broth and let simmer for remaining hour.

Strain bone broth with a fine mesh sieve, discarding all of the solid ingredients.

Skim off the layer of fat at the top of the bone broth.

Serve and store any extra bone broth in mason jars in your freezer.

Variations:

Buffalo Bone Broth

Buffalo: 6 pounds buffalo knuckles, oxtails and marrow bones, preferably from organic, grass-fed buffalo. All other ingredients are the same.

Combine knuckles, oxtails, and marrow bones, apple cider vinegar and all vegetables in a large stainless steel pot and cover with cold water.  Do not add herbs or garlic yet. Let mixture stand for 1 hour. Omit roasting step. Follow all other directions.

6. Do you need to sit and wait for hours for your bone broth to cook?

No. You can make a great bone broth in your slow cooker that simmers away while you are sleeping or at work. Just throw all of the ingredients (other than the herbs and garlic) into your slow cooker and let it simmer for the same amount of time as the recipe calls for. Skim scum off of top of the bone broth as necessary, or right before you add the herbs. An hour before the bone broth is finished, wrap the bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and cloves in cheesecloth and add to the bone broth. Let the bone broth simmer for one more hour. Strain the bone broth with a fine mesh sieve, discarding all of the solid ingredients. Skim off the layer of fat at the top of the bone broth. Serve and store any extra bone broth in mason jars in your freezer.

7. If you don’t want to make bone broth, can you buy quality bone broth?

Yes. Check out these locations:

New York: Brodo

Los Angeles: Erewhon or Belcampo

Portland: Broth Bar

Nationwide: Bare Bones Broth

Want more health guides? Check out our guide to eating clean, how to go paleo, or the how to follow the alkaline diet

References

Daniel, K. (June 2003). Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin. Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts.

Fallon, S.  Nourishing Traditions, Revised 2nd Ed. New Trends Publishing, Brandywine, MD, 2001.

Hannaway, P.J., Lipski, L. (Feb. 2010).  Replace and Replenish: Treatment of Digestive Dysfunction.

Siebecker A, Townsend Newsletter, Feb-Mar 2005.