For me the cooler weather signals that it is time to get the crockpot out from its summer resting place. Who wants to heat up the house with a roast or pot of bones simmering for 36 hours on a hot day? When I was growing up in our home, and our neighbors’ kitchens as well, the stock pot was a regular feature on our stove, and the bones from our meals were added, cooked slowly and most of our meals included this stock, which we now refer to as “bone broth.” At some point most households abandoned this practice and opened the door for many of the “itis’s” we experience. These days many are looking for the secret to feeling better as they age.
A regular question I am asked is “what’s the difference between gelatin, collagen, and bone broth?” Bone broth contains both gelatin and collagen which are released during the many hours of simmering in the crock pot, or shorter time frame in an Instant Pot. The term collagen comes from the Greek word meaning glue. Collagen is a key component of connective tissues and the most abundant protein in our bodies. The cooking and drying of bones and tissue forms gelatin powder. Gelatin is formed from cooked collagen found in those bones and cartilage.
Because bone broth, collagen, and gelatin all contain the same amino acids, they have similar health benefits. Gelatin consists of longer chains of amino acids than collage, so it is digested and absorbed slower, offering more support for gastrointestinal health.
Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, and also contain minerals, electrolytes, glucosamine, and chondroitin from bones, cartilage, and marrow. As opposed to the mineral supplements sourced from rock, our bodies will easily recognize these bone nutrients. The small amount of acidic wine or vinegar that we add during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, along with gelatin, into the broth.
Meat, poultry and fish stocks are used almost universally in traditional cuisines — French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African, South American, Middle Eastern and Russian; but the use of these homemade meat broths have almost completely disappeared from the standard American diet (SAD). Fish, poultry and meat stocks, along with the many health benefits, also add immeasurably to the flavor of our food. In European cuisines, rich stocks form the basis of those exquisite, clear, thick, smooth, satisfying sauces. The magic is in the stock, made from scratch with as much care and attention to detail as the final dish. The test of whether your stock contains liberal amounts of gelatin is by chilling the broth. It should thicken, even to the point of gelling completely when refrigerated. Bones for stock are available from local butchers such as Bright Oaks in Springfield and Long’s Meat Market in Eugene and are inexpensive.
Beef Bone Broth
4 pounds beef bones with marrow
■ 4 carrots, chopped
■ 4 celery stalks, chopped
■ 2 medium onions, peel on, sliced in half lengthwise and quartered
■ 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
■ 1 teaspoon sea salt
■ 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
■ 2 bay leaves
■ 3 sprigs fresh thyme
■ 6 sprigs parsley
■ 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
■ 20 cups cold water
○ Place all ingredients in a 10 quart capacity slow cooker or large stock pot on the stove.
○ Add in water.
○ Turn on the slow cooker and prepare to cook for at least 36 hours, so that might mean 3 cycles on the standard slow cooker that has a maximum 12-hour setting (unless you can set your slow cooker for 36 hours).
○ If cooking on a stovetop, bring the large pot to a boil over high heat; reduce and simmer gently.
○ In slow cooker or pot, skim the fat that rises to the surface occasionally.
Simmer for 36 to 48 hours.
○ Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
○ Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
○ Refrigerate and use within a week. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
Adapted from Dr. Josh Axe Ingredients.