Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bone broth

Have a couple of days to let things simmer on the stove and then sit in the fridge?  Why not make some bone broth?

Bone broth, while it may seem complicated by the length of time it can take, is actually just as simple as making any other broth, and the health benefits far surpass the inconvenience it may cause.

Here is a rundown, compliments of Marks Daily Apple:

  • Bone marrow – We went over this last week, but I’ll say it again: bone marrow is one of the first “superfoods” (for lack of a better term – I actually slightly cringe using it) our ancestors enjoyed. It’s fatty, with a bit of protein and loads of minerals. Even if you’re cooking spindly chicken bones, there’s going to be marrow, and that marrow will make it into your stock.

  • Collagen and gelatin – Most commercial gelatin comes from animal collagen already, so why not cut out the middle man and get your gelatin directly from bone and cartilage? The more collagen your bones have, the more gelatinous, rich, and viscous your stock will be – important qualities, especially if you intend to reduce your stock into sauces. Gelatin may even reduce joint pain in athletes, as one (admittedly small) study appeared to show. Another showed benefits for ulcer patients.

  • Glycine – Although our bodies already produce plenty of glycine, rendering it a non-essential amino acid, there’s some evidence that supplementation can help mitigate free-radical oxidative damage in rats with alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity. Bone broth is rich in glycine. It probably doesn’t mean much, but it can’t hurt. And hey – it may even improve sleep quality, as one Japanese study showed in human subjects. Drink a warm cup of broth before bed, perhaps?

  • Proline – Proline is another non-essential amino acid found in bone stock, but supplementation has shown promise in patients suffering from vision loss due to gyrate atrophy. It’s also an important precursor for the formation of collagen, though it’s not clear whether eating proline has any affect on the body’s ability to make collagen.

  • Hyaluronic acid – Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is one of cartilage’s three glycosaminoglycans. It helps broth gel, and it’s been used for years to treat race horses with osteoarthritis, usually as an intra-articular injection or IV fluid. Recent studies on oral administration have been promising, though, meaning oral administration of quality bone stock (as opposed to, um, what other method of administration?) might help us with our joint issues, too. According to Wikipedia, human studies are underway and showing promise, but I wasn’t able to dig up much beyond this small study. Still, it’s compelling, and I’ll continue to drink broth regardless.

  • Chondroitin sulfate – Chondroitin sulfate is another glycosaminoglycan present in bone stock. It’s also a popular supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis the efficacy of which has come under question. One recent review concludes that chondroitin sulfate “may interfere with progression of osteoarthritis”. I’d say it’s worth a shot.

  • Calcium – I’ve downplayed the importance of large amounts of supplementary calcium in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s the raw material for bone production and fortification, and bone stock might be one of the best sources of calcium around, especially for those who avoid dairy and don’t eat enough leafy greens.

  • Phosphorus – There’s also a good amount of phosphorus in bone stock, though I doubt Primal eaters lack adequate dietary phosphorus (there’s plenty in meat). Still, it’s a nice buffer.

  • Magnesium – Magnesium is pretty lacking in the modern diet. Fatty fish like mackerel offer good amounts, as do leafy greensnuts, and seeds, but most people, Primal folks included, could stand to take in more magnesium. Dr. Michael Eades says if he had to recommend just one supplement, it’d be magnesium; Dr. Stephan Guyenet over at Whole Health Source recently posted a couple great pieces, one on magnesium and insulin sensitivity (short version: the former improves the latter) and another on magnesium and vitamin D metabolism (short version: the former affects the latter). Bone stock is just another way to obtain this valuable mineral.

  • Sulfur, potassium, and sodium – Stock has these minerals in mostly trace amounts, but they’re all important for health. Sodium isn’t really an issue for most people, but potassium is undoubtedly important and often lacking. Both are crucial electrolytes (bone broth – possible new sports drink?). Sulfur is the “S” in MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, the popular joint supplement that has shown some promising results in humans.

  • Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/cooking-with-bones/#ixzz1lhOkvAkA

    So last week I was browsing on Nom Nom Paleo and found this recipe for oxtail broth and thought I'd give it a go.  Unfortunately, oxtails were about $8/pound, and mama is on a budget, so I swapped out the bones for pork neck and beef knuckle bones.  Then, yours truly flubbed up the shopping list and forgot a couple of things, bought some extras that I didn't need.  My brain was obviously not working yesterday.  But the nice thing about a broth is that you can really put in anything you like!  I give you my recipe below:

    Equipment you'll need:

    • Crockpot (or a large enough stock pot and enough patience if you plan on letting it simmer on the stove for 10+ hours)
    • Strainer (a fine mesh strainer is an excellent tool for this, I used my regular strainer initially but after I scraped the fat off the top, I was left with some very fine drippings, so I sent that through the mesh strainer, and if you've got another pair of hands in the house to help, I'd recommend the mesh strainer first and save yourself a step)
    • A soup pot aside from the one you use to cook the broth in
    Ingredients you'll need (or ingredients that I used):
    • 2 pounds pork neck bones
    • 2 pounds beef knuckle bones
    • 2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and cut into thirds and rinsed
    • 2 celery stalks, chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped (or a couple of handfuls of baby carrots, which is what I used)
    • 1 large onion, chopped into big slices
    • 7 cloves of garlic, smashed
    • Kosher salt (I used about a palmful)
    • Black pepper 
    • 5-6 bay leaves
    In your crockpot layer the veggies on the bottom, toss in a handful of salt and pepper, toss in the bay leaves then layer the bones on top.  Fill with enough water to cover.  I have a 5 quart crock pot and the water was up to the top on this, and as it cooked, some liquid did splatter, so make sure your surrounding area is clean.

    Cover and cook on low for 10 hours or until the meat is falling off the bones.

    Remove cover and let cool for a bit, then begin to strain.  This is where it will be helpful to have someone help, if you can.  I didn't, so I just took the bones out with a slotted spoon, and took a bunch of veggies out, and then strained the broth out with the larger strainer (and this is where your mesh strainer comes in handy) into the other soup pot.  Place that in the fridge overnight, and when you take it out, there should be a solid layer of fat on the top.  Simply scoop that out and this is where the mesh strainer came in handy for me as I had to strain it again into another pot.

    Now initially, my broth didn't have the gelatinous consistency that Nom Nom's did (aka, meat jelly), but that could be something as simple as using too much water in mine.  However, it did thicken up a bit more after I re-strained everything and put back in the fridge.

    Now, to enjoy!  Simply scoop out a mug, heat and drink straight.  Or, you can add some veggies/meat to it to have a soup/meal of sorts, but I'll be enjoying this just as it is.  Maybe my body will use some of the gelatin and proteins and start to re-build some cartilage in my knees ;)

    My batch came out pretty tasty, but it could have used more salt, so feel free to be a bit more liberal with your seasoning.

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