What do bones, water and apple cider vinegar (ACV) have to do with each other?
At first glance, not much, but when we place them in a stockpot and heat for up to 48 hours (chicken bones can be heated for up to 24 hours and beef bones up to 48), they produce gelatin, a food greatly prized for its gut-healing capabilities. Gelatin is produced during the process of simmering the bones and is nothing more than denatured collagen. When we consume gelatin, it improves absorption of nutrients and protects and restores the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, both healing and safeguarding against further damage.
On any given day of the week, I’ll make bone broth soup, usually when I am busy writing, as I am now. I will take my grass-fed bones from my local butcher and place them in a large stockpot. While these bones are plentiful, one or two won’t do. You want to have at least five good-size bones in the pot for the most flavor. Cover with water and set on the stove.
See also Chicken Broth Recipe
While the contents come to a boil, I am busily adding other ingredients necessary to build the flavorful layers of this nutritious broth. These include carrots, vegetables and vegetable pieces I have been saving that didn’t make it to dinner (like broccoli stalks and kale ribs). I add four robust cooking onions but don’t remove the skin. The onion skin yields an intense golden color, which I like in my broth. I pop the roughly chopped onions into the pot and then add whole carrots, parsnips and even a whole clove of garlic. Again, I don’t peel it. To that lovely brew I add several bay leaves, a handful of peppercorns, sea salt and a bunch of fresh dill and/or parsley. Often, I’ll simply use the fresh herbs I have on hand.
Once the pot has come to a rolling boil, I throw in ACV and reduce the heat. Now is the time when all the goodness from the bones is extracted – the combination of heat and ACV will do that, pulling out precious minerals and protein. I let the stock simmer for at least five hours, and I return to my writing in the meantime. When the mixture has simmered for long enough, strain it through a fine mesh sieve and let it cool before putting it in the fridge.
The next day, your broth will no longer be liquid but gelatin – proof that your stock is loaded with protein and minerals. My Dutch mother, who taught me the value of bone broth soup, claims that any broth worth its salt is one that can stand up on its own. I’ve never made a broth that didn’t accomplish that solid task after a good night chilling.
I feel accomplished when I have created a pot full of bone broth because I know that from this I will be able to build other nutritious meals, made better by the presence of readily digestible proteins and minerals pulled from grass-fed bones. I also know I am doing my health a huge favor.
Tosca's Bone Broth Recipe
When nutritional therapy practitioner Tosca Reno was raising five children under one roof she still managed to write numerous books. Her New York Times best seller is Your Best Body Now, and Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook was nominated for the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Order copies of her books at toscareno.com.
- 4 to 5 lb grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef bones
- 2 to 3 onions, whole or coarsely chopped, skins on
- 2 to 3 carrots, whole or coarsely chopped
- 2 to 3 celery stalks, whole or coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
- Fresh or dried herbs (such as parsley, thyme and oregano), as desired
- Several bay leaves
- 2 tsp each sea salt and whole black peppercorns
- 3 to 4 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
- To a large stockpot, add bones and fill with cold water, covering bones by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Once boiling, add vinegar.
- Reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 hours or up to 48 hours, partially covered, adding additional water if needed. The longer you simmer, the more nutrients and flavor you'll extract from the bones. After simmering for longer periods of time, the marrow should have all come out of the bones (leaving them hollow). If any marrow remains, use a spoon to remove it so that it doesn't go to waste. You can eat it off the spoon, or even try spreading it on toast.