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

11 comments
  1. 1
    Kathleen McGlade | June 11, 2015 at 8:33 am

    i agree that the grandmas are usually on to something. Silly question-do you consume this plain or do you use it in a soup recipe or both.

    Reply
    • Kelly Colchin | June 11, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Kathleen- I do both! I drink it as a snack and I use it as a base for soups or when making rice or quinoa.

      Reply
  2. 2
    Chanel Dror | June 11, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I haven’t hopped onto the broth train yet (at least not in this sense of the word), but I think I’m going to give it a whirl. I’m always open to trying new things and seeing how they affect my body & mind! I’ll be in NY this weekend, so I might pay a visit to one of the famed broth shops there for a first taste.

    Also, I love that you make it in your garage like it’s some kind of underground bone broth smuggling operation… do you have a permit for that? 🙂

    Reply
    • Kelly Colchin | June 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      No permit/total stealth mode.

      Reply
  3. 3
    Traci | June 11, 2015 at 10:01 am

    You’re right–the name bone broth is not appealing, but I can imagine the health benefits are real. I don’t think it’s NECESSARY, but if you’re into it, why not?

    Reply
  4. 4
    Madeline @ Whitewall Collective | June 11, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I have come to absolutely LOVE drinking bone broth. I swap it out for that second or third (yikes!) cup of coffee a few times a week. Making it does seem intimidating, but I put together this SUPER easy slow cooker version that any busy person can make!

    http://whitewallcollective.com/beauty/better-skin-with-bone-broth-and-a-better-bod-too/

    I know the wonderful group at Real Bone Broth too, and that’s a great solution if you’re ever traveling or for apartment dwellers that don’t have full kitchens or the time to cook. It’s really good stuff and that crew takes their BB very serious!

    Great post – so glad to see the word about broth spreading!

    Cheers, Mads

    Reply
  5. 5
    Camille Styles | June 12, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I’ve been super curious about bone broth as I’ve been reading about it everywhere for the last couple months, but had hesitated to try it, just because it sounded labor-intensive and I didn’t know where to get the bones! Thanks for breaking it down for us and making it more approachable… once I try, I’ll let you know if I feel its miraculous powers! Also — love Madeline’s slow cooker recipe above! What a great idea!

    Reply
    • Kelly Colchin | June 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Slow cooker is TOTALLY the way to go. Try it out in the garage. Ha!

      Reply
  6. 6
    theYans (@whYpoli) | June 12, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I actually love it. I dont eat sweets, so the savory flavor is all I can ask for in a comfort food and more. I have been doing a tea-detox and this compliments it well. At night I am not very hungry and toss a few veggies or potatoes into my bone broth and eat it for dinner, or just a plain cup o’broth when it’s late. It is surprisingly filling!
    Soups and broths are a bit part of my culture (I’m Russian), so I am glad this is now taking “trend”. I even drink it in the summer (now) and eat a mostly plant based diet with a bit of chicken/turkey throw in here and there – this is a great way for me to get the right fats and minerals, and the delicious flavor of meat – without eating a whole steak (my body thanks me for it). I haven’t tried the companies you mentioned, but in NYC I have done Brodo (in the East Village) which is delicious and has chilled take home jars and hot to-go cups ready for you, and if you are looking for a unsalted/unseasoned base for soups, Bone Deep and Harmony is lovely, and it comes frozen – this is for someone who would use it to cook. I hope everyone tries this!

    Reply
  7. 7
    Molly Kendrick | June 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

    A couple of months ago I went on a bone broth making “kick” (i.e. I made it one time) and tried to make it in my slow cooker, but it came out all wrong and just like water with bone flavored components.

    I’m definitely going to try ^^ slow cooker method. I really want to be a bone broth convert!

    Reply
  8. 8
    kberdie | June 12, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I have been so curious about bone broth, but have not tried it. I am a vegetarian too, so I appreciated that perspective! Thank you for the post! I’m going to have to give it a try.

    Reply
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