Mostly out of convenience, we tend to purchase de-boned bits and pieces of animals rather than the whole part. Traditionally all of these “scrap” parts – bones, cartilage, necks, feet, organs, etc. – were combined with aromatic vegetables, herbs, and water and simmered until every last drop of flavour was extracted. You were left with an amazingly versatile and flavourful stock to be used for amultitude of cooking purposes, and prized for its health benefits.
To get you started, I’ve created a Stock Making infographic as well as a cheat sheet that you can download.
I always encourage people to make their own stocks from scratch instead of resorting to the boxed or canned varieties. It is easier than you might think, but when it comes to making your own stock, proper technique makes a difference! The correct preparation will preserve the nutrients and flavour, and provide you with the following health benefits:
1. No Artificial Ingredients: making your food from scratch means you get to avoid MSG and other baddies masquerading as food. Many of these “natural flavourings” overstimulate the nervous system and cause a wide array of symptoms including headaches, nausea, and irritability.
2. Joint Health: collagen is leached from animal bones when they are simmered for a long enough period of time. Collagen is an important building block of bones, ligaments, cartilage, and brain tissue. There are small amounts of chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine that can also help to reduce soreness and achiness in joints.
3. Digestive Health: A properly prepared stock will have a distinctive “jello-like” jiggle when chilled – this means you have extracted all of the good stuff from the bones! Natural gelatin helps improve digestion because it attracts digestive juices to the gut and will be absorbed quickly and easily by the body. This is why homemade stock is safe and beneficial for the body during times of illness, or for anyone with food sensitivities or gastrointestinal disorders.
4. Essential Nutrients: bones are the mineral-rich storehouses of the body for all animals. A properly prepared stock is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, sulphur, silicon, and trace minerals that are easily assimilated by the body when they are in a liquid form. According to Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation, adding raw apple cider vinegar to your broth while it simmers will help extract even more calcium from the bones.
5. Immune Boosting: the folk wisdom about chicken broth having immune-boosting properties is true! It inhibits the body’s inflammatory response by inhibiting neutrophils, and the heat and steam help relieve congestion. So enjoy a hot cup of broth a few times a day to remain hydrated while you feel under the weather!