According to an old South American proverb, “good broth will resurrect the dead.” While that’s undoubtedly an exaggeration, it speaks to the value placed on this wholesome food, going back through the annals of time.
The featured article by Dr. Amy Myers1 lists 10 health benefits of bone broth. Sally Fallon with the Weston A. Price Foundation2 has previously published information about this healing food as well.
First and foremost, homemade bone broth is excellent for speeding healing and recuperation from illness. You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage that chicken soup will help cure a cold, and there’s scientific support for such a statement.
For starters, chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily. Processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth.
For best results, you really need to make up a fresh batch yourself (or ask a friend or family member to do so). If combating a cold, make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it’s easier to expel.
But the benefits of broth don’t end there. As explained by Sally Fallon:3
“Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”
The Healing Influence of Broth on Your Gut
In later years, medical scientists have discovered that your health is in large part dependent on the health of your intestinal tract. Many of our modern diseases appear to be rooted in an unbalanced mix of microorganisms in your digestive system, courtesy of an inappropriate and unbalanced diet that is too high in sugars and too low in healthful fats and beneficial bacteria.
Bone broth is excellent for “healing and sealing” your gut, to use Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride term. Dr. Campbell’s GAPS Nutritional Protocol, described in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), centers around the concept of “healing and sealing” your gut through your diet.
Broth or “stock” plays an important role as it’s easily digestible, helps heal the lining of your gut, and contains valuable nutrients. Abnormalities in your immune system are a common outcome of GAPS, and such immune abnormalities can then allow for the development of virtually any degenerative disease…
The Healing Benefits of Bone Broth
As the featured article states, there are many reasons for incorporating good-old-fashioned bone broth into your diet. The following health benefits attest to its status as “good medicine.”
|Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion: The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.||Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, etc.: A study4published over a decade ago found that chicken soup indeed has medicinal qualities, significantly mitigating infection|
|Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage||Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis5 (whole-body inflammation).
Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better
|Promotes strong, healthy bones: As mentioned above, bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation||Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth|
Making your own bone broth is extremely cost effective, as you can make use of left over carcass bones that would otherwise be thrown away. And while the thought of making your own broth may seem intimidating at first, it’s actually quite easy. It can also save you money by reducing your need for dietary supplements. As mentioned above, bone broth provides you with a variety of important nutrients—such as calcium, magnesium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and arginine—that you may otherwise be spending a good deal of money on in the form of supplements.
Easy Chicken Broth Recipe
Both featured articles include a sample recipe for homemade chicken broth. The following recipe was provided by Sally Fallon, writing for the Weston A. Price Foundation.6 Her article also contains a recipe for beef and fish broth. (You could also use turkey, duck, or lamb, following the same basic directions.) For Dr. Myers’ chicken broth recipe, please see the original article.7
Perhaps the most important caveat when making broth, whether you’re using chicken or beef, is to make sure they’re from organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals. As noted by Fallon, chickens raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce stock that doesn’t gel, and this gelatin has long been valued for its therapeutic properties.8 As explained by Fallon:
“Gelatin was universally acclaimed as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French, who were seeking ways to feed their armies and vast numbers of homeless in Paris and other cities. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal.”
Besides that, CAFO animals are fed an unnatural diet that is not beneficial for their intestinal makeup, and they’re also given a variety of veterinary drugs and growth promoters. You don’t want any of these potentially harmful additives in your broth, so make sure to start off with an organically-raised product.
Ingredients for homemade chicken broth 9
- 1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones, and wings
- Gizzards from one chicken (optional)
- 2-4 chicken feet (optional)
- 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
Please note the addition of vinegar. Not only are fats are ideally combined with acids like vinegar, but when it comes to making broth, the vinegar helps leech all those valuable minerals from the bones into the stockpot water, which is ultimately what you’ll be eating. The goal is to extract as many minerals as possible out of the bones into the broth water. Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized.
There are lots of different ways to make bone broth, and there really isn’t a wrong way. You can find different variations online. Here, I’ll offer some basic directions. If you’re starting out with a whole chicken, you’ll of course have plenty of meat as well, which can be added back into the broth later with extra herbs and spices to make a chicken soup. I also use it on my salad.
- Fill up a large stockpot (or large crockpot) with pure, filtered water. (A crockpot is recommended for safety reasons if you have to leave home while it’s cooking.)
- Add vinegar and all vegetables except parsley to the water.
- Place the whole chicken or chicken carcass into the pot.
- Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top.
- Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer.
- If cooking a whole chicken, the meat should start separating from the bone after about 2 hours. Simply remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the bones. Place the carcass back into the pot and continue simmering the bones for another 12-24 hours and follow with step 8 and 9.
- If cooking bones only, simply let them simmer for about 24 hours.
- Fallon suggests adding the fresh parsley about 10 minutes before finishing the stock, as this will add healthy mineral ions to your broth.
- Remove remaining bones from the broth with a slotted spoon and strain the rest through a strainer to remove any bone fragments.
Bone Broth—A Medicinal ‘Soul Food’
Simmering bones over low heat for an entire day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Keep in mind that the “skin” that forms on the top is the best part. It contains valuable nutrients, such as sulfur, along with healthful fats, so just stir it back into the broth.
Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.
Both broth and fermented foods, such as fermented veggies, are simple and inexpensive to make at home, and both also allow you to make use of a wide variety of leftovers. When you add all the benefits together, it’s hard to imagine a food that will give you more bang for your buck.
Hello I have a question it says to simmer for 24 hours I do that with the vegetables in there as well?
The Paleo Mama says
I simmered mine for 12 hours then checked on it and the water had evaporated and all I had left was bones sizzling to the bottom of my Dutch oven…..has this happened to anyone else?
Dutch oven’s work a little differently. You can’t use the slow cooker recipe with a dutch oven lol.
When cooking the whole chicken, do you leave the skin on the chicken? And after cooking the chicken and pulling the meat off and putting the bones back in to simmer… so we leave all the fat that has risen to the top, or do we seperate the fat and discard?
The Paleo Mama says
YEs I do leave the skin on. I leave the fat in there.
I’m using a crockpot. You said to bring to a boil first. Should I put it on the high setting, then lower to the low setting after it gets hot? Thanks! 🙂
The Paleo Mama says
Yes you could do that. Put it on high for 1-2 hours and then turn it down to low.
Ok.. Leave the skin on, while simmering, leave the fat on after removing the meat from the bone. Do you put the skin in with the bones, after pulling the meat off, do you throw the skin out after removing it from the bones. Sorry for soo many questions. I am not a fan of eating the skin.
I normally strain it all in my mesh sieve (after removing the bones), and mash down on all the meat, skin, veggies, and herbs to get all that goodness into the broth.
I like buying one of the prepared roasted chickens from Whole Foods. I make a curry chicken salad with the meat, and use the carcass for broth, but now I’m wondering if it’s bad to use a chicken that’s already been cooked. Paleo Mama, does the chicken have to be raw, in order to get all the nutrients and benefits?
Hi! I am new to cooking so forgive me for asking about this bone broth question. Everywhere I read it says to make sure the bones are covered with water when making bone broth. Well i had them in my crock pot last night with the bones all covered with water and when i woke up this morning the water evaporated exposing some of the bones. They were thick bones so about 1/2 of two of the bones were sticking out of water all night. I added more water when i woke up but now am nervous if the broth is bad to drink? Can I still drink this or will it make me sick since some of the meat and bones were out of water all night?? Thank you so much for your reply!
I’ve never had a problem. I don’t even add more water. I just take a spoon and smoosh everything down so it’s covered again. I roast my chicken 1st though in the crock with onions, garlic celery. Six hrs on low for a 5ish lb chicken. When its done, i debone it and set the meat aside for whatever I’m going to do with it later. Everything goes back in the pot including veggies, skin, and fat. At this point I throw in whatever was in the little goodie bag. Usually a neck, liver,heart and kidneys. Lots of good stuff in organ meat. After 24 hrs I strain and then put in fridge over night. The fat will rise to the top and solidify for easy skimming. If you’re in a hurry, use ice to get the fat out.
I have been making broth for a while now and could only get it to gel once. I used only chicken feet (about 1 lb) to do it. I usually roast the chicken and freeze the bones till I’m ready. I use 2-3 lbs of bones per 1 gal of water. I also add two feet in. I simmer on low for 24 hours -still no gel! I also wanted to ask why you recommend starting with a boil while some others say never boil just start a low simmer and keep it going? Btw when I tried the ‘no boil’ method I found there was nothing to skim off the top.
Could you make this using beef soup bones? If so, how much do you think i’d need?
You need to periodically add water as it boils down I think…
I had the same problem! And I can’t figure out what I did wrong.
Hi paleo mama, just wondering if you could recommend a few good places to buy a bag of chicken and chicken parts( organs, gizzards, ect?)
The Paleo Mama says
Have you asked at the butcher counter in your grocery store? Small independent meat markets? Local farmers selling chickens, etc.?
The Paleo Mama says
Try local grocery stores butcher counters, independent meat markets, local farmers who sell chickens
what type of vinegar do you use? apple cider or white?
Jackie Ritz says
Always raw apple cider vinegar with the mother.
Thank you for sharing these information. I’m drinking Au Bon Broth for months now and so far it hadn’t disappointed me. I’ve felt more energetic and lost almost all these joint pains I’ve been having after giving birth.