The truth about bone broth

So just what is bone broth, anyway? It's getting a ton of buzz lately, like it's some trendy new superfood, but isn't broth made from bones just regular old broth? If so, what's the big deal? This stuff has been around since whatever prehistoric person invented the cooking pot, then put it to use whipping up a tasty batch of soup.

While our paleolithic ancestors no doubt did dine on mammoth broth, as the first adopters of nose-to-tail (or tusk-to-tail) eating, bone broth isn't the same thing as plain old soup stock. As the Wholefully blog explains, the bones in soup stock are used for flavoring, but bone broth involves cooking bones as long as possible to extract every last bit of nutrition out of them.

How to make bone broth

The basics of bone broth involve pre-cooking bones from any type of meat — beef, pork, chicken... basically whatever meat you have on hand — but the best bone types involve lots of connective tissue such as can be found in chicken feet, pig's knuckles, or turkey necks. Basically, the more cartilage, the better. Once the bones have been cooked, they should be simmered in water to which a little vinegar has been added, as vinegar helps bones break down faster and release more of their nutrients into the broth. You may also add vegetables for extra flavoring and nutrition, and any seasonings you prefer. Cook the broth over the lowest heat possible — whether on a stovetop or in a slow cooker — for at least 24 hours for poultry or 48 hours for red meat bones.

How can you tell when your bone broth is ready for consumption? One of the commenters on the Wellness Mama blog offers the following suggestion: take a few spoonfuls of broth and put them in the refrigerator for a few hours. If the chilled broth turns into something resembling Jell-O in consistency, then you're good to go.

How to use bone broth

Whether you've made your own from-scratch bone broth or purchased the now readily available store-bought kind, you can enjoy it in any number of ways. Bone broth can be used as the basis for soups, of course, and it can also be used to replace the liquid in dishes like mashed potatoes, stew, or chili. You could use it to cook rice or pasta — although, with the latter, be sure to save and re-use all of the pasta water instead of simply pouring it down the sink.

Bone broth also makes a tasty (and very nutritious) drink all on its own. If you sip it on a regular basis, you're likely to enjoy numerous health benefits such as stronger joints and bones, better digestion, improved brain function, and even younger-looking skin. A warm cup before bedtime might even help you enjoy a peaceful night's sleep.

While it won't cure cancer, improve your credit rating, or bring about world peace, bone broth is just about the healthiest thing you can make out of something (bones) that would otherwise be tossed in the trash, so this is one superfood that's absolutely worth your while.