I’ll admit that I didn’t know anything about bone broth before I did the Whole30. It seemed like regular broth would do just fine– why should I pay so much extra money for what seemed like the same thing?
If you’re looking to save money while doing the Whole30, or any diet, bone broth is an easy one to skip. It often three or four times the price of normal broths (at least!), dramatically increasing the per-serving price of the recipe you are making. I honestly have only bought bone broth maybe three times from the grocery store. Since realizing I can make my own bone broth at home that not only has the same benefits, but also uses lots of vegetable scraps, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying it from the store!
This recipe is easy, but bone broth has varying levels of, well, classiness. This is the easiest and simplest way to make bone broth, and the photos here will show you that this bone broth is often cloudy and not the nice clear stuff you get from the grocery store. I’m not someone who sips of bone broth as a snack or for breakfast, although I know many people do that. I typically only use bone broth in recipes and as a way to not waste left over food scraps, meaning that the clarity of my bone broth is not necessarily a priority.
Before we jump into the making of bone broth, there are some huge benefits that I’d like to make you aware of. As someone who generally loves learning about how the foods we eat can enhance (or diminish) our quality of life, I was fascinated that something so simple could have so many health benefits.
Bone broth has all the nutrients
Okay, well, not ALL the nutrients, but it does have a number of nutrients that you might not get elsewhere. Part of the reason it is so high in nutrients is because it contains connective tissues from cartilage, and also has the added benefits of bone marrow. According to Medical News Today, bone marrow is rich in several nutrients such as iron, fatty acids, and vitamins A and K.
Bone broth can help reduce inflammation
Now, before we go down the rabbit hole of some of the nutrients that are found in bone broth that are possibly linked to reducing inflammation, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of things in play. Simply because bone broth has these compounds and nutrients does not mean that they will immediately reduce the effects of inflammation, but there is hope (and scientific suggestion) that they might.
Two amino acids found in bone broth are of note: glycine and arginine. Glycine has been suggested as a clinical treatment to inflammatory diseases, meaning that it could help with arthritis, asthma, and other diseases that have inflammation. For those of you interested in gut health, arginine has been found to reduce inflammation in the mucosal layers of the digestive system, which is important for a healthy immune system. So what does that mean for you? It seems like out of the many claims that bone broth has to being a healthy super food, inflammation seems to be at least one place where it holds true.
Bone broth (maybe) can help improve joint health
I’ve heard (and even read) about this one a lot, but doing a little bit more digging made me a little more skeptical about how much bone broth can improve joint health and reduce pain in the joints. There seems to be some real science behind why many people believe bone broth could be a great candidate to treat joint pain, but it doesn’t seem that any study has been able to directly prove (or nearly prove) that is the case. If you find an article or a study, please send it my way!
Here’s a little bit about how the science goes behind thinking bone broth is a great way to help improve joint health. Bone broth contains gelatin. Yes- that’s right: the stuff that gives Jell-O it’s shape is something that helps protect your joints. If you’re someone who gets joint pain, gelatin could be an easy way to help protect against joint stress and damage. Bone broth, being full of gelatin, would be just another way to get more gelatin in your diet. Or at least, that is what the science seems to suggest.
There’s also the fact that bone broth contains several other compounds that have been linked to joint treatment. Have you ever taken joint supplements (or given them to your dog)?They often contain glucosamine and chondroitin, two compounds that have been linked to healthier joints. Bone broth naturally contains both glucosamine and chondroitin, making bone broth a super star when it comes to joint health.
Now, it’s important to note that just because bone broth contains these compounds that have been linked to helping joints, that correlation does not always equal causation. Just because it seems to be the case that gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin appear to improve joint health does not mean that anyone consuming those nutrients will experience better joint health. According to Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, we should exercise some caution when dealing with these claims around bone broth. Just because you are consuming compounds, vitamins, and minerals that could be beneficial to building strong and healthy joints does not mean that those compounds, etc. immediately go to where they are needed. The human body is infinitely more complicated than that, but findings suggest that consuming these nutrients could potentially be beneficial.
For someone who regularly pays close attention to joint pain and stiffness, I’ve been willing to try out bone broth as a possible way to reduce that pain. Of course, bone broth should not replace any medications you are on or recommendations from your doctor; it could just be a great way to add a nutrient-rich food to your diet.
How to make homemade bone broth
Like I mentioned previously, there are many… we’ll call them levels… to making bone broth. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking for super shmancy bone broth to sip on throughout your day (a cup a bone broth can have up to 12 grams of protein), you might want to add a few extra steps to be sure your bone broth is clear. This is the “quick” and “easy” homemade version for soup stocks – I might possibly do an update in a few months about how to make your bone broth clearer and more refined, but for now, here is the easy recipe. It’s tasty and delicious as is, but again, everyone has their own preferences!
The first step in the process actually can happen whenever you’re cooking, weeks and even months before you plan on making you bone broth. Setting aside vegetables that are about to go bad and other vegetable scraps is a great way to add even more flavor and nutrients to your bone broth. I usually store all those pieces and parts of vegetables in a container in my freezer until I have bones to create bone broth. Some common food items I end up using in bone broth include:
- carrot tops
- the green leafy part of leeks
- fresh herbs about to go bad
- the leafy center of celery
- beet greens (the parts I don’t put in salads, although this can affect the coloration of your bone broth)
- mushrooms (they seem to go bad so quickly, so this is a great option!)
You can store these vegetables in your freezer until you make a meal that has bones to use in your bone broth. Since there’s no real limit to the amount of vegetables you can put in your bone broth, you can use as much of your frozen vegetable stash as you’d like!
Roasting the bones of your bone broth comes next, which is a process that can be as quick or as long as you have time for. The goal is to make sure that the bones become extremely soft and so that they can release all their nutrients into your broth mixture. You can place whatever bones you have in an oven-safe pan. I usually use a roasting pan for this, but a baking sheet could work if you don’t have a ton of bones. Roasting whatever bones you are using – chicken, beef, etc. – can be as short as two and a half hours, or you can roast them for 6-8 hours. I usually roast the bones at 250° F for 3-5 hours, but if I have time will roast them for even longer.
After your bones have cooked in the oven, you can place them directly in a large stock pot. Add in your frozen veggies, adding an extra chopped onion and extra carrots (in addition to those you have from your freezer bag). I usually like to put in an onion and carrots because they’re not only in my house most of the time, but can add extra nutrients and flavor. I don’t really chop the onions much, just maybe 3-4 cuts, and leave the carrots in large chunks as well, mostly for convenient purposes.
Set your stock pot with the vegetables and bones on your stove, and bring to a boil. Once it begins boiling, lower the heat until it is simmering.
Here is where the timing of how long your bone broth simmers can be played with. If you’re not making your bone broth on a lazy Saturday or day off at home, this simmering process is a place where you can cut some time out. Again, this is where you want the bones to really become soft so their nutrients wind up in your bone broth, so letting this process go on for awhile will create a more gelatinous and hearty bone broth. Letting it all simmer on low for 6-10 hours will give you the best nutrient density for your bone broth (and a richer taste), but if you’re in a hurry, 3-4 hours will do.
Once your bone broth is done simmering, remove it from the stove and let it cool. Run your bone broth through a strainer or cheese cloth to remove any larger bits of bone and vegetables in your broth. I usually use a strainer, which means that my bone broth is cloudier, but by running it through a cheese cloth a few times you can make clearer bone broth that looks store bought! I usually skip the cheese cloth because I use my homemade bone broth as a soup stock rather than a snack, and I’m honestly too busy to care about how clear my bone broth is.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know!
Homemade Bone Broth (Whole30, Paleo, Keto)
- mesh strainer or cheese cloth
- 5-8 stalks celery
- 1 whole onion
- 3-5 chopped carrots
- 1 cup frozen fresh herbs
- water to fill the pot
- left over bones chicken or other animal
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 250°F
- Roast stripped chicken bones (or other bones) at for 3-6 hours.
- Once bones are roasted, place in large stock pot and fill with water.
- Add in veggies and herbs. They can also be from a frozen storage contain.
- Add in salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 2-8 hours. You want to reduce the amount of liquid in the pot. Sometimes I add more water if I don't want/ need a thick bone broth but want more of a stock. See instructions above for different cooking times!
- Pour contents over a strainer to remove any bits of bone and vegetables. You can also use a cheese cloth to obtain a clearer bone broth product.
- Allow the bone broth to cool and store in your fridge in a sealed container. I find mine usually lasts up to 10 days.
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