What’s the Skinny on Bone Broth?

By Kelly Colchin

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We’re all familiar with the old adage that soup is good medicine, but lately it seems that broth, specifically bone broth, is getting all the attention. You can’t read the NY Times or turn on NPR or the television without hearing a story touting bone broth’s miraculous healing powers for skin, nails, hair and overall health. And purveyors of this “liquid gold” are popping up everywhere from NYC to Austin. So what exactly IS bone broth?

Importantly, bone broth is different than stock you buy in those tidy little packages at the grocery store ­ — that kind of broth contains a lot of sodium and little else. Real bone broth is broth made with animal bones — beef, chicken, turkey, whatever — that you roast and then simmer with vegetables (and a splash of apple cider vinegar) for hours. You then strain the liquid and are left with just the broth. Those who swear by it say the amino acids, vitamins and minerals you get from the broken-down bones have powerful healing properties, and can help to alleviate joint and gut pain, support your immune system, brighten skin and make your hair shiny. While trendy now, broth is certainly not a new food — our grandmothers have been simmering it for ages. And grandmothers are usually on to something.

I’ve been a mostly vegetarian for most of my life, but after having bone broth “prescribed” to me by both traditional and eastern doctors for various ailments, I decided to give it a whirl. Which is harder than it sounds. I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of gross to me… I mean, even the name “bone broth” isn’t that appetizing. And while some loyalists claim to love the smell of a pot of broth simmering on the stove, I just can’t stand to have my house smell like soup all the time. To solve for this problem, I started making it myself from bones I buy at the farmer’s market in a crock pot. In my garage. I leave it out there for at least 24 hours until it’s time to “deal with it” and then I put it in jars in my freezer to defrost and use in cooking or drink as a snack. It’s a bit laborious, but I definitely think there is something there and I believe it makes me feel better. My three-year-old son is strangely wild for it and I know it recently helped us heal after a particularly bad stomach bug. Interested in making it yourself? You can save the bones from other meals in a bag in the freezer along with vegetable scraps to simmer up on a rainy day. Or, you can buy good quality grass fed bones from your butcher, your local farmers market or even in the frozen section at Whole Foods. A good recipe can be found here. Or, if you are limited on time, I have been told you can order it online here or here. So what do you think? Have you tried bone broth? Do you think it has special healing properties? Or is it just overhyped soup?

image source: House and Leisure Magazine via Roses and Rust