Thursday, 20 August 2015

The mighty bone broth (GAPS, SCD, PALEO)

The power of bones

This latest 'superfood' seems to be in fashion again. For hundreds of years it was a folk remedy to heal, strengthen and energize, and now it got re-discovered for it's beneficial properties:

• nutrient dense - healthy fats, amino acids
• high in minerals - calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus (fish bones also contain iodine);
• builds stronger bones - provides easily absorbable forms of bone-building minerals
• anti-inflammatory - reduces inflammation
• gut-healing - soothes the gut lining
• promotes healthy digestion - not much to digest
• boosts the immune system

In the cooking process of the slow simmering at low heat the bones, connective tissues, cartilages, tendons, and ligaments are broken down into healing compounds like gelatin, and proline, glycine, glutamine, arginine amino acids. Gelatin protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract.

Key steps to enjoy your own healing bone broth to the fullest:
• choose bones of grass-fed, free-range, organic animals
• more bones and connective tissues, less muscle meat
• bone marrow is the choice of choices
• use filtered water
• cook slow and at low heat
• re-heat your bone broth in a pot on the stove

Tips: Some suggest to add a tbsp of apple cider vinegar to the water prior to cooking, this helps to pull out more nutrients from the bones. You can also add in vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots, leek, and celery for added flavour.

Ways to eat your home-made bone broth:
• just broth, a nice cup of healing warm broth, drinking by itself
• use as the basis for soups (veg or meat)
• use to make sauces and gravies
• use to make aspic, well chilled in the fridge

To make your gorgeously rich bone broth you will need only 4 ingredients:
1 kg chicken stock bones with neck & giblets (aka chicken carcass)
       or 1 kg beef stock bones
       or 1 kg beef marrow bones
       or 1 kg jointed oxtail
       or 1 kg lamb stock bones
       or 1 kg lamb scrag (neck)
5 whole black peppercorns, slightly crushed (omit for AIP)
pinch of coarse Himalayan rock salt (this really is optional)
filtered water

1.a. Put the bones in a slow cooker (see later), add the salt and pepper and fill the pot with filtered water.
2.a. Cook on high for the first hour or two (remove the foam from the top), then reduce to low, and gently cook for 12, 18 or 24 hours.

Do not have a slow cooker? Don't worry!
1.a. Put the bones into a large stock pot, add the salt and pepper and fill the pot up with filtered water.
2.b. Bring slowly to boil, remove the foam from the top, reduce to simmer and gently cook for 6 to 8 hours, the longer the better, tastier, richer the broth will get.

The little meats will fall off the bone, the joints will become soft jellies and the broth will be tasting awesome. Fat tastes good, people!

Tips: You can add some veg to the broth like carrot, leek, celery, onion, garlic (at the end discard all but the carrots) and some flavourings like bay leaf, fresh ginger root or fresh turmeric, but I prefer the pure taste of the broth alone. The carrots loose all their flavour, and if you use too much carrots the broth becomes somewhat sweet. Instead cooking carrots with your bone broth, slice them thinly and cook in a few ladle of broth until soft (15 to 20 mins), then leave them sliced or blend with your broth. Great STAGE 1 soup.

About the slow cooker
First I used the Crock Pot Slow Cooker (second pic) which I think has a great design. I had minor issues like there is no indicator light to tell you whether or not the thing is actually on, the lid rocked on the top and spluttered. After a few weeks of use I came across an article about lead in ceramic glaze, and after a few emails with the supplier which did not reassure me and did not make me feel comfortable to continue to use this slow cooker, I decided to try the VisiCook Slow Cooker (first pic). It is robust, not as neat as the Crock Pot was but makes more broth and have an indicator light (which is not a major thing but helps). I am using it daily in the past 8 weeks, basically non-stop. The glass bowl has a thin blueish film inside which started to wear out, the base started to generate some noise, and it produces great heat on the kitchen counter surface.

At the early days into slow cooking I was setting up my slow cooker in the morning right after breakfast so there was hot meat broth for dinner. Nowadays I put my bone broth on just after dinner, leaving it on for longer, up until dinner time, resulting in a better broth. This way I have fresh broth all day whenever I want it.

[i] For GAPS recipe ideas please visit my GAPS recipes selection.

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