Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Steps: Broth

This post is dedicated to every Mama who wants the best health for her children and is looking for her first step on that journey. Broth is a great first step toward becoming an amazing chef and an amazing healer.

For centuries cultures around the world have used broth as a medicinal food. There is a reason besides the Campbell Soups marketing budget that chicken noodle soup bubbles to the surface of our minds when we hear someone is ill.

A well-made broth from a naturally raised animal provides tremendous nourishment to the body and building blocks for the gut wall. All the wonderful nutrients that animal used to build its strong body will be recycled into a medicinal broth for your body. Particularly for anyone whose gut has a difficult time extracting nutrition from solid foods, broth provides "bioavailable" (that is a fancy term for "even your sick gut can grab it") nutrients.

So here is my advice to any healing Mama early in her journey:

  1. If you do not already have a copy of Nourishing Traditions, consider purchasing this cookbook. If I could only have one cookbook this would be it. It is so much more than a cookbook - it is a nutritional education + cookbook all in one. Also, the recipes are so simple they can be easily tweaked to meet any dietary needs.
  2. So as not to slow down the process waiting for your copy of Nourishing Traditions read "Broth is Beautiful" from the Weston A Price website. No sense in me telling you my tricks - I learned them all from the master and this is the primary research document. ;-)
  3. If the first two steps have not answered enough questions, if you once considered going into biochemistry, or if you have a little "Cliff" from Cheers deep inside you, here is the answer to "Why Broth is Beautiful" from the Weston A Price website.

After 14 months on GAPS I have finally figured out a thing or two about making the broths. I have a bit of a strategy that works for me and is not covered in the links above so here are my other tips:

  • Look at the timing of the particular broth you plan to make and work it into a regular schedule that works. I really like the 24-48 hr beef bone broths because I can start them late at night after the kids are in bed and then deal with them a day and a half later. Once you find a pattern / routine that works for you just stick with it.
  • Please know that you can reuse your bones for additional batches. If there is still bone there is still mineral content to be leached. You will not get the gelatin (unless you are using beef feet / chicken feet) in your broth past the first or second batch. But you will still have great mineral water which is wonderful for drinking or cooking.
  • Use a large stock pot (stainless steel, no aluminum) and make loads at a time. As a side note, I hear people talk about making stock in their crockpots and I chuckle to myself because I would need some sort of commercial crockpot for my lazy ways. Also, there is the whole "what is in the paint on that crockpot" and I cannot think about one more possible source of contamination. But I digress...
  • I store my stocks (and soups) in canning jars in the fridge. It is generally consumed so quickly there isn't a need to move it to the freezer. If you do freeze some, chill it first in the fridge and then freeze it in quart size canning jars (or smaller). Be sure to leave at least 1-2" of space at the top of the jar so it can expand during the freezing process. Note: Some people reduce it prior to freezing so it takes less space. Just mentioning that - I personally don't keep enough in the freezer to worry about that step (and an extra step is not generally welcome in my kitchen anyway).
  • Rather than use veggies in making my broth I use onion peels. I particularly like to use the onion skins / ends from yellow onions as they have a wonderful anti-histamine compound in them called quercetin. This compound is also in red onions but not white onions. For some reason red onions bothers my family so we stick to yellow. Anyhoo... As I (or Chef Steve) peel and slice onions, leeks, fennel, or whatever we save the scraps in a bag in the freezer. After I add the vinegar to the water + meat/bones and let it sit for an hour I add the veggie scraps at that time along with my herbs (usually just bay leaves + thyme + sea salt) and let it go. Just make sure you poke everything under the water as they can get burned if they are out of the water for 24 hours on a low boil.

When a broth shimmers while warm and shakes like Bill Cosby's favorite J-E-L-L-O when you take it out of the fridge, THAT is a very healing broth! So... time to give it a shot. Easy Peezy, Lemon Squeezy. This is your first step to introducing an incredibly medicinal food to your family. Get the gelatin in the broth, keep the fat in the broth, turn it into an amazing soup, do whatever. I'll put a note out soon about soups, but just get started. Your gut will thank you!


  1. Just finishing up a wonderful chicken broth as we speak! My family all has a cold and I was so thrilled I'd already planned the chicken broth for today :)