I have been experiencing a renaissance in my kitchen lately. The change from working 8-5 with a 2-hour commute into the city to now building my own practice in my local neighborhood has freed up both time, energy and inspiration to create slow nourishing meals that can bubble along in the background as I weave the parts of my new business together.
I am currently reading Bri Maya Tiwari’s “The Path of Practice”. Within its beautifully delicate prose is the story of the author returning to her Hindi roots in her kitchen. It’s an Ayurvedic guide for women and soul journey story in equal measure. She talks about ‘sadhana’ as a kitchen practice. I have only known the term in the context of yoga – which in my mind has always meant the practice of meditation in motion, but it’s so much more than that…
Sadhana is a sanskrit word whose root, sadh, means to reclaim that which is divine in us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice, and uplift the spirit. Sadhana practice encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime – from cooking a meal to exploring your inner self through meditation. The goal of sadhana is to enable you to recover your natural rhythms and realign your inner life and daily habits with the cycles of the universe. When you begin to live and move with the rhythms of nature, your mind becomes more lucid and more peaceful and your health improves. Your entire life becomes easier.
So in the spirit of sadhana, I have been coming back to slow basics, infusing them with herbs and reclaiming my time spent preparing food as a joyful act rather than a means to an end after a long day. And what a relief that it.
With all that said, I share with you a deeply nourishing bone broth…
What are bone broths?
Bone broths, for me, have always been the base note of nourishment in my kitchen. Bone broths are simple and highly nutritious preparations that blur the ambiguous line between food and medicine. When bones, vegetables, medicinal root flavor and mushrooms are simmered slowly over many hours a plethora of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and therapeutic compounds are released into the simmering water that is highly absorbable.
These nutrients extracted in the bone broth supply the
body with building blocks for:
- healing inflamed tissues of the digestive and respiratory tracts
- repairing damaged joints
- speed recovery from soft tissue injuries and broken bones
- building and maintain strong bones.
- providing a host of trace minerals that are highly valuable when recovery from any illness.
Bone broths have been used by just about all traditional cultures for nourishment, healing, recovery from long-term illness and prevention of colds and flu during the colder months. They are the original frugal food, giving you a lot of nourishment for very little money, are easy to make and bring quite the element of magic to your kitchen. You simply need a big pot, crock pot or slow cooker. You can’t muck them up, they freeze brilliantly and bring depth and flavor to cooking.
I also feel they are an ethically responsible way to eat meat. Meat consumption in the modern west all about the prime cuts and meat bones are very often thrown away. Which is a crime as marrow and knuckle bones are teaming with collagen, gelatine and blood building offerings!
The Essential Components of a Bone Broth
Bones – contain a variety of medicinal and highly nutritious compounds including cartilage, gelatin, marrow, minerals and amino acids. Ask your butcher for marrow and knuckles.
Sulfur-containing vegetables – Onion family (onions, leeks, shallots and garlic) and cruciferous (cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens) are both good sources of sulfur compounds.
Orange colored vegetables – Carrots and other orange-colored vegetables such as sweet potatoes and squash are rich in carotenoids, including beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. These nutrients support the health of skin and mucous membranes of the respiratory and digestive tracts, support vision, and enhance immune function.
Mushrooms – Shiitakes, reishi, maitakes, turkey tails, oyster mushrooms, chanterelles and other mushrooms all provide polysaccharides such as beta-glucans which improve immune function.
Medicinal roots – Soup is also the perfect medium with which to incorporate tonic, strengthening and immune buildings herbs into your daily diet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal roots such as astragalus, ginseng, burdock, and dandelion are added to soups as a way to build vitality and immunity.
Basic Bone Broth Recipe
Leave the ingredient options open based on what you have in the fridge and what is in season. Don’t forget – the stockpot is the perfect place for things you might throw in the compost – carrot and potato peels, carrot tops, bones, discolored or tough cabbage leaves, etc – so don’t forget to save them by putting them in a ziplock bag and freezing them until you are ready to make your bone broth.
- Bones from beef, chicken, venison or lamb (organic where possible).
- 2 onions, quartered with peels left on
- 2-4 garlic cloves pressed with skins left on
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)
- 3 litres water
- Vegetables of choice: chopped carrots and tops, potato peels, celery, cabbage leaves, kale, leeks, corn cobs etc.
- 8 large shiitake mushrooms or other mushrooms of choice (chanterelle, oyster, maitake, reishi, etc) optional – these can be found in health food stores or the Asian section in the supermarket.
- 2-4 larger pieces of seaweed (dulse, arame, kelp, wakame, etc) optional
- 30 grams astragalus root (or other medicinal roots), optional
- 1-4 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger root
- Spices of choice: thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, oregano, turmeric or cayenne.
- In a large pot, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add onions, garlic, and other vegetables and sauté for several minutes.
- Add mushrooms, seaweed, bones, and herbs, add water and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low, and simmer for several hours (at least 8 hours)
- If using a slow cooker, you can leave the bone broth on for up to 48 hours.
- Once finished, strain out the bone broth from the herbs and vegetables through a sieve into a large jar or container.
- After the bone broth cools in the fridge, you can skim off all the fat which rises to the top, making a completely fat free bone broth. You can store this in a jar for cooking (for the best roast potatoes). You know you’ve created a potent broth when it gels.
- Freeze what you won’t immediately use into freezer Ziploc bags or mason jars. The rest will last in the fridge for 5-6 days.
Use your bone broth to make soups, stews, risottos and bolognaise sauces – they will bring a beautiful flavour! You can also enjoy your bone broth as a nourishing daily tonic, heated and combined with a handful of chopped scallions and a tablespoon of miso.
Other Bone Broth Hints and Tidbits
- Use organic bones when possible.
- You will get a better gelatin content into your bone broth by using the more cartilaginous parts of the animal feet, knuckles, joints, wings, hoof etc. Gelatin is highly healing for the digestive and respiratory tracts.
- You will “pull” more minerals from the bone in a lightly acidic liquid – which is why it is essential to add some wine or vinegar to your stock pot.
- Don’t boil your bone broth, just a gentle simmer is all that is needed.
- Skim the foam and scum as it rises to the top and discard.
- If you’d like a stronger flavor (and darker color) roast the bones (and vegetables if desired) first. This will also render out some of the fat.
- The longer you cook the bone broth, the better it will be.This is where slow cookers are fantastic.
- You know you have made a medicinally potent bone broth when it sets as a gel.
Which Bones to Use?
Beef – strongest acting to replenish energy. Particularly good for tendons and bones, as well as the stomach. Addresses lack appetite.
Lamb – especially warming. Good at dispelling cold.
Pork – coolest of the meats (although duck is cooler). Moistens and nourishes the organs. Good for all when there is dryness.
Chicken – most neutral of the meats. Particularly good for weakness in elderly persons and postpartum.
Are you a regular bone broth creator? What do you do with yours?
“Nourishing Traditions” – by Sally Fallon
Many more recipes and information on traditional cooking methods, including bone broths.
Jude Bleureau’s books and website – a wholefoods chef and writer who emphasizes simple, easy and flavorsome foods.
Teacup Chronicles – a great overview of bone broth making, with a few more specific nutrient and herb additions.
Whispering Earth – written by a herbalist. Further explains specific herb uses in bone broths.