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Bone Broth: A Nutrient-Rich Meal or Just a Fad?

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Over the last few years, you might have noticed a lot of bone broth on the shelf at your local supermarket. But what exactly is it, and why is it suddenly all over the place?

Bone broth certainly isn’t new—people have been eating it for over 10,000 years. Its recent resurgence, though, is due mostly to the health benefits it’s purported to provide. But, are these claims true? Let’s find out!

What Is Bone Broth?

To be clear, bone broth is essentially a hybrid of a stock and a broth. A broth is made by simmering meat, vegetables, and aromatics in water, and a stock is made by simmering bones, vegetables, and aromatics in water. A very neutral stock can be achieved by using meatless bones, however, stripping animal bones of all their meat isn’t as easy as it might sound.

This is why people usually make a stock using bones that still have meat and connective tissue attached. Vinegar is also used to help extract all the minerals and nutrients from the marrow. You usually simmer all of the ingredients in a bone broth for 12-24 hours.

Once it’s cooled, a good bone broth has a very gelatinous consistency due to the collagen released from the marrow. You’ll basically have a meat/bone Jell-O. At this point, many people will be out, as that sounds very unappetizing.

However, the flavor and nutritional value that bone broth provides are widely touted to be pretty incredible. Let’s look at what else you can add to a bone broth to improve its flavor, as well as its health benefits.

Additional Ingredients and Health Benefits

Chopped onions, celery, and carrots on a wooden cutting board.
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A bone broth will contain blanched or roasted bones, mirepoix (onion, celery, and carrots), as well as some aromatics. Aromatics are fragrant herbs, spices, and vegetables that add a deeper flavor to your bone broth.

When it comes to the bones themselves, you can use them from any animal, including pork, veal, beef, chicken, fish, lamb, and more. For extra nutritional value, when your bone broth is complete, you can make a soup containing more nutrient-rich vegetables, leeks, and kale. After all, nothing soothes the soul like sipping a hot cup of soup in the winter.

The health benefits bone broth is purported to contain are derived from several nutrients it has, however, research is still being conducted on this. At this writing, there are actually very few scientific studies that prove there are any health benefits at all from eating bone broth.

One benefit that has been scientifically proven is that chicken soup made with bone broth helps to clear nasal passages.

Unfortunately, when it comes to claims of weight loss, relief of joint pain, or softer skin, there’s little scientific evidence to support it. If you’ve heard anything about broth strengthening your bones and improving digestion, science hasn’t entirely backed those up, either.

Still, if you want to try it out for yourself (or you have a stuffy nose), we’ll walk you through how to make your own homemade bone broth.

How to Make a Bone Broth

Roasted beef bones with vegetables, herbs and spices in the background.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

Making a bone broth is really very simple, and you can do it with just a few ingredients and tools. For this article, we created a bone broth using beef bones.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon of water.
  • 2-4 Lbs. of animal bones (if some meat is still attached, that’s okay).
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
  • 1 Small onion.
  • 2-3 Carrots.
  • 2-3 Stalks of celery.
  • 1 Head of garlic, sliced in half, across.
  • 2 Tablespoons of peppercorns
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Fresh parsley

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, follow these steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and then roast the bones for about 30 minutes.

2. Prep and slice vegetables and aromatics, and then set aside.

Celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and peppercorns on a counter.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

3. Place all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 12 hours or more. The safest (and easiest) way to do this is by prepping everything the day before, and then simmering all day (12-15 hours) the next while you’re awake.

A stockpot full of simmering bone broth.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

4. Allow your bone broth to completely cool. To avoid contamination, you want it to cool as quickly as possible. To expedite the process, transfer the broth to smaller pots and stir with an ice wand.

Warning: You should never place hot broth in a refrigerator to cool, as this will allow it to enter the danger zone temperature range, and allow bacteria to form.

5. Strain the bones and set aside. If you’d like, you can strip off any extra meat and use it in your broth.

After your broth is completely cool, you should be left with a brown, Jell-O-like consistency that’s ready to use in soups, stocks, and anything else you want.

While the scientific jury is still out on the purported health benefits of bone broth, the flavor it adds to soups and stocks can’t be denied. Now that you know how to make it yourself, it’s time to start using it in some recipes!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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