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Bone broth is at the core of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet protocol. The GAPS diet was designed to help heal children and adults of a variety of health conditions, including autism, ADHD, leaky gut, and certain autoimmune conditions. This diet limits the intake of processed foods, sugars, and grains. Most vegetables, some fruits, and organic animal proteins are allowed. The idea is to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and the rest of our bodies.
Our ancestors made broth from the bones, feet, marrow, skin, and meat of animals as a way to use the entire animal. These are boiled in water and then simmered for a very long time until the broth begins to become gelatinous. This long-simmering helps the bones and joints to release collagen, glutamine, glycine, minerals, and proline that are vital to our health. The major benefits of bone broth include:
- Aids in healthy metabolism
- Assists with detoxification and waste removal from the intestines
- Boosts overall immunity
- Heals and soothes a leaky gut
- Supports healthy joints, bones, and skin
One of the keys to making a good bone broth is to allow it to simmer for 4 to 8 hours. My local butcher shop carries all varieties of bone broth that they cook overnight for anywhere from 12 to 20 hours. It is incredibly thick and rich. Unfortunately, it is $14 for one quart. This is why I make my own bone broth every week for about $5 per quart. That might be more than what you will pay for a boxed bone broth, but I can control the quality of the ingredients.
I only use bones and other parts from free-range organic animals without any antibiotics or hormones administered. This is important because you are extracting as much nutrition from the bones as possible. I also use only organic non-GMO aromatics, vegetables, herbs, and spices in the broth for added flavor. Another key ingredient is raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps to draw the minerals out of the bones and joints.
One of my favorite bone broths is made with whole chicken legs and that is the recipe I am sharing here. There are bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, and meat that are really flavorful and nutrient-rich. Yes, I leave the skin on, but I do remove the layer of fat after I chill the broth. Another reason I use whole legs is so I can have some meat to make chicken soup. I remove the meat from the bones after 45 minutes and return the bones to the broth to continue simmering. It’s a little bonus.
- 2 whole free-range chicken legs or 5 drumsticks
- 1 large onion quartered
- 2 ribs of celery chopped into thirds
- 2 carrots chopped into thirds
- 2 garlic cloves smashed but not chopped
- 10 cups filtered water more or less
- 2 Tbsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder or 2-inches of fresh turmeric root
- 1 tsp ground ginger or 1-inch of fresh ginger root
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- Add the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic to a large stockpot. Place enough water in the pot to cover the chicken and vegetables and to almost fill the pot. Add the vinegar. Turn the heat to high.
- Add the bay leaves, salt, turmeric, ginger, and pepper.
- As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot and allow the broth to cook for 45 to 60 minutes until the chicken meat is cooked.
- Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot to a cutting board.
- With tongs and a fork, remove the skin from the legs. Pull the cooked meat from the bones and set it aside to cool. Store the meat to add to broth for chicken soup.
- Return the skin, bones, and joints to the stockpot, cover, and continue to simmer for at least 3 more hours.
- Turn the heat off and allow the broth to cool down. This could take an hour.
- Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the bones and vegetables from the pot to a colander to drain. Discard these.
- Using a ladle, spoon the broth through a fine strainer over mason jars or other glass containers. Once the broth is completely cooled down, cover the jars and place them in the fridge until ready to use. You can also freeze the soup in batches in freezer-proof containers. (Mason jars are not particularly freezer-proof).
- Once the broth has chilled, you can remove and discard the solid fat cap on top. Use the broth to make all kinds of soups. Or, just heat it up and drink from a coffee mug for a nutritious snack.
Notes & Tips
- I highly recommend making your bone broth in a stainless steel pot or a Dutch oven rather than an aluminum pot. You can also make your broth overnight in a slow cooker set to low for 8 to 12 hours.
- You can store bone broth in the freezer in well-sealed containers for about 4 months.
Substitutions & Variations
- Chicken: If I have roasted a whole chicken, I will make this broth using the carcass of the roasted bird. If I have broken down a whole chicken myself, I save the wingtips and backbone to make this broth. These are particularly gelatinous. If you can find them, chicken feet are excellent for adding to the pot.
- Other Bones: Another favorite bone broth of mine is made with oxtails. They are fatty, meaty, boney, and have nutritious marrow. I always make a giant batch of bone broth from a broken-down turkey carcass the day after Thanksgiving. This is incredibly thick and jelly-like. If I buy a whole fish, I have the fishmonger scale and fillet the fish and then wrap the skeleton and head separately to use for making broth. I have paid for all that goodness, so I don’t let it go to waste.
- Onions and Garlic: If onions and garlic do not agree with you or you are on a low-fodmap diet, you can substitute with the green portions of leeks or spring onions. Fresh chives also are a great substitute.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Raw apple cider vinegar with the mother has very healing properties and assists in coaxing nutrients from the bones and joints. I don’t know if this works, but there are recipes for broth that call for lemon zest or fresh lemon juice instead of ACV.