'Tis the season for allergies and colds as pollen, ragweed and other airborne hazards bloom, along with assorted viruses that all reek havoc on our systems. Whatever the season, bone broths with a rich store of vitamins and minerals are embraced by top chefs and Dr. Moms alike. Here's a primer on these supercharged liquid immune boosters that you can brew at home and sip everyday to soothe your soul. Bon appétit!
Waste not, Want not: Bone broths have been prepared in a variety of kitchens throughout the globe for centuries to ratchet up flavor and nutrients, while following the conservation ethos of utilizing the animal in its entirety, including organs and bones. Asian recipes typically incorporate fish skin and bones in traditional stocks and broths, Korean cuisine use beef bones, while European cooks choose poultry bones as the cornerstone of soups, stews and sauces.
Lock, Stock and Barrel: While stocks, broths and bone broths are similar in principle (blending water, meat, bones, herbs, spices and assorted vegetables and simmering for hours then pouring through a filter like a cheesecloth or a mesh sieve to strain the solids) not all of these soups are created equal.
Stocks are typically robust, prepared with meat and bones that have been roasted beforehand to dial up the flavor and color, then simmered for a few hours. Broths typically use meat rather than bones as the base, and are only simmered for an hour or so creating a more delicate liquid. Bone broths, as the name suggests are made from bones of either chickens, turkeys, duck, geese or other wild game, lamb, cows, pigs or fish. Like stocks, these bones can be pre-roasted, and usually have some tendons or connective tissue still attached.
For an even richer broth some cooks use marrow, feet, fins, hooves, beaks or even the whole carcass. These mighty soups are simmered for several hours (a minimum of eight), with an acid such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice blended in the mix to break down the structural protein called collagen in connective tissue, releasing gelatin and important trace minerals.
Bone Up! Bone broths not only warm the cockles of your heart, they have healing properties, too. These steamy powerhouses are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, particularly the protein gelatin and amino acids Glycine and Proline to relieve achy, creaky and injured joints and bones, promote healthy nails, skin, and a restful sleep, detoxify, improve digestion, and pump up hemoglobin production.
The bones also have a supply of minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and silicon for fluid balance and yet more bone function, while the marrow has an ample load of Vitamin A, zinc and selenium to hike the immune system, Vitamin K2 and iron for healthy blood, and heart-healthy omega-3s and omega-6s. Finally, bone broth, especially from poultry, puts the skids on the movement of neutrophil white blood cells to keep viruses at bay.
• Sip bone broth straight up like a cup of tea every morning or throughout the day;
• Pour bone broth into soups, stews, sauces or over meats or vegetables for roasting or braising;
• Use only organic bones from animals that were not treated with growth hormones, or given GMO feed;
• The longer the broth cooks, the more nutrient dense it becomes;
• Make sure enough acid is used to break down the connective tissue;
• Lemon juice also has a rich supply of antioxidant Vitamin Cs to ward off or shorten the duration of colds, and help keep allergies in check;
• Store broth in airtight containers or mason jars in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze in ice cube trays for six months.
••• Recipe: Chicken or Turkey Bone Broth
• Ingredients: 3 pounds chicken or turkey bones (organic); 2 1/2 to 3 quarts spring water; 5 garlic cloves, whole; 2 onions, quartered; 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (I prefer Meyer); 1 inch piece each fresh ginger and turmeric, peeled; 1 bay leaf; 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (including leafy tops); 3 carrots, sliced in 1-inch pieces
• Method: Add ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for several hours (8-24). Let cool, and strain with a fine sieve. Store clarified broth in mason jars in the refrigerator.
— Catharine Kaufman can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org