If you've been paying attention to the latest nutritional information available, you have probably already heard about bone broth. If not, don't worry. I'm usually not the first one on the bandwagon, either. Just because you came late to the party doesn't mean you can't have a good time. Right?
Anyway...bone broth is made by boiling down the carcass of an animal (not a plant, since plants don't have any bones!) along with a small amount of vinegar. Of course, you can add other ingredients, such as garlic, ginger root, herbs, veggies, but I recommend adding these later in the process. Bone broths are cooked for extended periods, i.e. DAYS, in order to extract the most nutrients from the carcass. The vinegar helps to leach out the minerals from the bones.
Why is bone broth so good for you? Well, minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are extracted from the bones during a long, slow cooking. In addition, many amino acids as well as gelatin are also made available by cooking down the animal's joints and connective tissues. Compounds like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates (which we often take in capsule form to help our own joints) are extracted. When we only consume an animal's muscle meat (chicken breast, sirloin steak, etc.) we miss out on many of the different amino acids our bodies need. This is one of the reasons why nose-to-tail eating is such an important concept for us to follow. (To read more about why bone broth supports excellent health, see this article: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx.)
You can purchase bones to make bone broth from your local butcher, or from any grass-fed meat supplier. You can also just boil down the family's roast chicken or turkey when the carcass has been picked over. Beef bones are traditional, but you can make broth from bison, lamb, pork, venison, elk, chicken, turkey, duck, ostrich, you get the picture. I make broth from a chicken carcass on a regular basis, but I've also used lamb and beef bones.
Your slow cooker is your best bet for making bone broth. Because the bones need to cook for a LONG time, this will free up your stove. The process is super simple: Throw your carcass or raw bones into the slow cooker. Hack your carcass into smaller sections if it won't fit. Add a small amount of apple cider vinegar, about 1-2 tablespoons for a small batch of bone broth. Cover the carcass with cold water. Place the lid on top and set your cooker to LOW. For a chicken, simmer 1 day (24 hours). For larger bones, increase the time to 2-3 days.
When your broth has finished cooking, turn the slow cooker off and scoop out all the solids. Dispose of the bones. You can now add flavorings, such as herbs or garlic, salt or other seasonings, or make a soup from your broth. You can drink a cup of bone broth as you would a cup of tea. Enjoy!