Drink your medicine

In almost every traditional culture you will find a recipe for a meat or fish stock. For chefs it is the foundation for any worthy soup, stew or sauce. But to a medicine woman, grandmother or midwife, it goes beyond the incredible flavor into a realm of healing. It soothes sore throats, nurtures the intestines,  and puts vigor back into our step after a cold or flu. 

Science validates what wise women knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily— and not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as synthesized supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

You might be wondering why you would not go buy pre-made broth from your local store. The truth is bone broth is unlike a regular stock or broth because of its miracle ingredient; gelatin. When bone broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin. According to Sally Fallon of Weston Price fame, “The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. Gelatin was probably the first functional food, dating from the invention of the "digestor" by the Frenchman Papin in 1682. Papin's digestor consisted of an apparatus for cooking bones or meat with steam to extract the gelatin.” And although gelatin is not a complete protein it contains large amounts of the amino acids arginine and glycine, which among other things, helps to stretch the protein that is already present in the body.

According to research done by Francis Pottenger, gelatin is useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk.  He also noted  that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. 

So you can see, not all broth is the same, and on that same note, not all animals are the same. Conventionally raised animals from commercial “farms” will not produce the gelatin that a pasture raised chicken will. So be very choosy about where you purchase the meat for your broth. Buy from local farms if at all possible. And if that is not available where you live buy from a natural grocery where they can tell you how the animal was raised, what it ate, and if it was given any added hormones.  Not only will you be promoting the health of your body choosing a humanely raised animal but you will be saying no to the abuse that commercially kept animals endure. 

Poultry Bone Broth Recipe

2.5 lbs turkey drumsticks

2. 5 lbs chicken legs

(or 5 lbs of either of the above)

splash of apple cider vinegar

pure water

3 stalks organic celery

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4 organic carrots

1 organic yellow onion

1 tbs black peppercorn

1 tsp sea salt

Handful of herbs like thyme, sage, parsley and rosemary

Place the turkey, chicken or combination onto a large soup pot. Cover with pure water and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for 20 minutes. The vinegar helps the marrow release from the bones of the meat which allows the calcium to be absorbed easily by the body. 

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Rinse and roughly chop the celery and carrots and add to the pot, peel the onion and cut in half, then cut into fours adding to the pot. 

Turn the heat to medium high and let stock come to a easy boil. Once boiling, quickly turn down to medium and skim off any form that forms at the top. This foam is the impurity from the ingredients and you definitely want to get rid of this. Once the foam is skimmed from the top, turn heat to low and add in the herbs, salt and pepper. 

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You want the simmer to be sporadic so keep the heat low enough that the bubbles pop up randomly. This will simmer low and cook slow for 5 to 7 hours. The slower it cooks the more dynamic the flavor will be and the more gelatin you will extract from the bones which is exactly what you want.

The color will deepen to a golden yellow and reduce by a third. Once you are ready to strain, turn off the heat and allow it to cook for 10 minutes or so. 

Strain through a colander and discard of meat and vegetables. Some people ask if they should use the meat in the soup but by this point all the nutrients are out of the meat and if you kept it, it would just be a filler. So for me, it goes into the trash. If you did want to keep some of the meat, do this around hour 2 and then replace the bones back into the stock.

Season with a little more sea salt and allow to cool before you refrigerate it.

Once cooled you will notice the broth turns into a gelatin and if you do you, know you created a nutritious broth full of the healing your grandmother used to make.