Bone broth is an ancient food that is currently undergoing a renaissance in the holistic wellness world. I am seeing bone broth pop up everywhere these days - in segments on NPR, at my local health food store, and at a stand in my neighborhood farmer's market here in Los Angeles - and for good reason. There isn’t a more potent gut-healing, immune-boosting health tonic that you can make in your own kitchen with minimal expense and minimal effort.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking bone broth various ways this winter and am excited to share my findings with you! What surprised me most about the process was #1) the ease of making and #2) the amazing versatility of the end product. I used it in almost every meal I cooked the week following the bone-broth-making, and found it to be a stellar way to enhance the nutrient-power and flavor of everything from rice to lentils to chicken soup. (For a veggie version, just google "Vegetarian Bone Broth" or check out this link:

There are infinite variations on a theme for broth. These variations include differing cooking times, what additional ingredients you throw in, and the viscosity of the final product. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how deep you would like to delve.

So, why should you put in the time and effort to make bone broth? Here a few of the benefits:

1) Immune boosting tonic – drink a mug of broth daily to boost immunity in the winter months, use it at the onset of a cold to shorten an infection, or to strengthen your system when healing from illness or surgery.

2) Gut-healing properties – bone broth is excellent to rebuild a gut that has been negatively altered by antibiotics, poor diet, or stress. (See this post to read more about how your gut's microbiome might have been damaged in the past and what you can do about it.)

3) Rich source of nutrients and minerals (the ultimate quality is contingent on the ingredients you use, of course), including gelatin and electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

In sum, EVERYONE can benefit from this! Broth is medicine for infants who are suffering from digestive issues like reflux, colic, or failure to thrive, for preschoolers who are exposed to cold upon cold from their peers, and adults who are stressed to the max and eating on the run most of the time. If you can put in the time to make a pot of bone broth at the beginning of your week, I promise that every member of your family will reap the benefits. Plus it makes preparing other meals a cinch when you have such an excellent base to start with!

Bone Broth Recipe:

Necessary ingredients:

  • 1 gallon cold water (~16 cups)
  • Bones of 1 organic chicken (you can use a store-roasted bird or roast your own) or grass-fed/pastured beef bones (pre-roasting the beef bones is optional and adds flavor and depth)
  • Carrots, celery, onion – chopped (alternatively, save ends, peels, and stalks of veggies from the previous week’s cooking in the fridge or freezer and add these to the pot instead)
  • Fresh parsley – 1 bunch
  • Apple cider vinegar – 2 tablespoons per gallon of water
Bone broth ingredients
Bone broth ingredients

Optional ingredients (for added mineral-y goodness):

  • Shitake mushrooms (fresh or dried)
  • Seaweed – kombu, wakame, or hijiki
  • Raw herbs: Codonopsis Root/Dang Shen, Gogi berries/Gou Qi Zi, Astragalus/Huang Qi (available from your local acupuncturist)
Bone broth herbs
Bone broth herbs

Stove Top Version:

1) Add all ingredients (except the parsley) to a large pot. Allow to sit for 30-60 minutes before turning on the heat.

Bone broth cooking start
Bone broth cooking start

2) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

3) Cover and let simmer gently for 6-12 hours. (You can simmer for up to 24+ hours. The longer you simmer, the richer and more nutrient-dense the stock.)

Bone broth on the stove
Bone broth on the stove

4) Add parsley about ten minutes before the end of cooking time.

4) When finished cooking (and the broth has cooled a bit), use a slotted spoon to remove all the bones and veggies from the broth. Press these ingredients through a cheesecloth to reserve all the liquid. Pour the rest of the broth through a fine-mesh strainer.

Bone broth for straining
Bone broth for straining

5) Allow to cool completely (either on the counter or in the fridge) and remove the fat that congeals at the top.

6) Store in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can freeze small amounts for later use as well.

Ta da...

Bone broth final product
Bone broth final product

Crock Pot Version: (My preferred method in terms of letting it cook overnight without supervision.)

1) Add all ingredients to a large crock pot. Let sit for 30-60 minutes.

Bone broth crock pot
Bone broth crock pot

2) Press start and let it cook for 12-24 hours. (You can start on high and switch to a low setting if your crock pot has variable settings.)

3) Once cooking is completed, follow the Stove Top Version instructions above from #4 on.

Enjoy and please let me know how it goes at your house!