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PM Bottom Line: broth is nutritious, cheap and EASY, once you establish the habit.
Much of what I write is really about increasing nutrition on the cheap – tweaking what you already do to increase nutritional yield for minimal financial investment. It’s no coincidence that these strategies also tend to be the most earth-friendly and environmentally respectful.
One of the first ways I began to use what materials I already had on hand to benefit my family’s health is broth. I was already eating meat with bones. Instead of throwing the bones away, I could squeeze every last bit of goodness from them. This two- (or even three-) for-one deal makes use of more of the animal that gives its life for our benefit and decreases waste considerably. Think about how much of the weight of an animal is its bones.
From a time and personal energy perspective, it took very little effort for me to throw our bones into a pot, top off with water and a few vegetable scraps, along with a little vinegar, and then simmer for a day. I then had a delicious base for gravies, sauces and soups that would give our bodies nourishment beyond what I ever imagined.
According to Sally Fallon Morrell and local (to me!) author KAAYLA Daniel, PHD, CCN, authors of Nourishing Broth, An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World, traditionally made broth feeds our bodies with and helps our bodies make collagen, what they dub “the glue that holds the body together.” It also provides cartilage to help us move, bioavailable minerals such as calcium phosphate, marrow for healing and rejuvenation at the deepest levels and what the authors call “conditional protein power,” meaning broth improves protein digestion and assimilation, decreasing our protein needs. Finally, broth provides four key amino acids, ones that our bodies theoretically can make, but in reality struggle to do so. So in taking broth, we get a quality source of PROLINE, glycine, glutamine, and alkaline. The benefits of these are just too numerous to mention. In their book, they outline how broth helps with immunity, joint health, digestion and so much more.
Knowing these benefits certainly solidified my commitment to include broth in my family’s diet. Yet I’ve been a broth maker for years. While I trusted that this extra step in my kitchen life was beneficial, it’s not what got me started making broth. I started making broth to squeeze extra nourishment from our leftovers, which seemed both ecologically and economically sound. I continued to make broth because I found it made recipes taste so much better. Even the simplest soups made with homemade broth have rich and complex flavors, far surpassing those made with canned, boxed or powdered versions. After eating such a soup, everyone is definitely satisfied.
My final reason for continuing to make broth was that it is so EASY. While there are many steps and tricks to make your broth darker, lighter, roastier, clearer and, the ultimate goal, gelatinous, you don’t have to take any of those. You simply need to
1. Put bones in pot.
2. cover with water and add a bit of vinegar
3. Bring to simmer and let simmer for hours
4. Strain out bones
5. Enjoy broth
1. Put bones in pot. Where do you get the bones? I typically use bones left over from our meals, often a whole chicken. If I don’t have enough to fill a pot, I freeze bones until I’ve collected enough. I also keep my eyes open for bags of chicken bones at La Montanita. Read the label to know if the bones are organic or not, but I typically snatch them up no matter what type they are. I keep them in my freezer if I’m not ready to make a batch right away. I also have no problem mixing and combining different types of bones. You can also add any vegetables you like to the pot. I usually like to add onion ends and other odds and ends that I keep in my freezer, ready to dump in a stock pot at any point.
In the book, Fallon and Daniels discuss finding the right combination of bone types and even using chicken, pig or calves feet to get the most gelatinous and healthful broths. They also include other great tips to improve your results. But even if you just use what you easily have on hand and don’t get gelatinous broth, you are still getting a great nutrition boost with your broth.
2. Cover with water. Use the best you can. And then add vinegar so that its acidity will help draw out the minerals in the bones.
3. Bring to simmer and let simmer for hours. I cannot take credit for this great description of how to simmer broth, but I love it. If a rolling boil is a hearty laugh, you want your broth to giggle. And the authors suggest about 6 hours for chicken broth and a full day for beef stock. Too long, too short, or too high a temperature can all result in non-gelatinous, but still healthful, broth.
4. Strain out bones. I pour everything through a metal colander. Occasionally, if it’s just a big bone and few to no vegetables, I just pour it into the storage container.
5. Enjoy broth. It’s ready to go. If the broth is too oily for your liking, refrigerate it and the fat will rise and solidify on top. You can easily remove it then. I find that if I let the fat sit on top, it creates a nice seal and keeps the broth fresh longer.
Now that its ready to consume, how will you enjoy it? How many ways can you get those great broth benefits?
- Soup. Use broth in all your soups. Check out my review of Winter Soups.
- Grains. Cook your rice, millet or quinoa in broth.
- Beans. Cook your beans in broth.
- Pasta. Cook your pasta in broth.
- Sauces and gravies. Broth makes the BEST sauces! You can even add some to your spaghetti sauce for a little nutritional boost.
- Mashed potatoes. Add some to cooking water or during the mashing.
- Steaming vegetables. Steam veggies over boiling broth.
- Sauté or stir fry vegetables in broth.
- Miso in broth. Get the benefits of broth and miso by combining them into a delicious tonic.
- Cuppa broth. Warm up on a winter morning with a healing cuppa. Add ginger, or garlic, or curry paste, or lemongrass, or lemon squeeze, or turmeric. Or all of them. Toss in an egg and call it breakfast.
Do YOU have any unique ways to work broth into your life?
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