In the past year, bone broth has been touted as a miracle elixir. A wonder drink. The “new” green juice. Heck, Gwyneth Paltrow even gave it a Goop-y thumbs up.
The health and wellness community certainly approves. Bone broth is often enjoyed as a sippable, warming drink, but it’s also used in recipes as a substitute for chicken broth.
What’s all the hype about? For starters, as bones cook, loads of beneficial, naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals—calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus—seep into the broth.
Also, bones are technically about 50 percent protein—but because we humans can’t digest them, we can’t exactly nosh on them for extra nutrition! So throwing them into a broth with a few veggies and spices is the simplest way to extract their protein and amino acids. And specifically, protein derived from knuckle, patella, femur, and foot bones contains the good stuff that’s hard to find from any other source: collagen.
Bone broth typically cooks for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours, and during that time, collagen protein that gives bones their structure is broken down and turned into gelatin. Collagen and gelatin are essentially the same thing, with the same health benefits… But gelatin is what collagen turns into when it’s cooked. Unless you’d like to eat your bones raw (no thanks!) you’ll have to settle with ingesting gelatin.
When hot, bone broth looks just like chicken or vegetable stock. Once it’s cool, you can tell it’s the real thing, because the entire batch will turn viscous and firm. While it might not look very appetizing, gelatin is the secret ingredient that makes broth a true superfood. Yup, the same wiggly stuff that makes up J-e-l-l-o is the key promoter of healthy skin and joints, improved digestion, and more restful sleep—hence the cult-like obsession.
Along with a host of other benefits, gelatin also supplies plenty of amino acids necessary for muscular recovery and growth. Two in particular, glycine and proline, are used in the natural production of collagen in the body. They help rebuild connective tissue in joints like tendons and ligaments, which leads to less inflammation and decreased joint pain. Research suggests that getting gelatin in your diet helps build stronger bones. And thanks to its repairing effect on tissue structures, it may also help relieve arthritis and joint pain.
Gelatin also has some great beauty-boosting side effects. Collagen can improve skin’s elasticity and resilience, easing the severity of wrinkles and even helping wounds heal faster. In fact, eating more gelatin has been shown to protect against the signs of aging due to sun damage.
Happier joints and brighter skin are great, but for those with digestive issues bone broth is a godsend. Gelatin improves the integrity of the gut by restoring the lining of the stomach, an area that’s often damaged due to diseases like IBS or inflammation that comes with food intolerances like celiac disease.
So many reasons to love bone broth, right? Except for one thing—it takes quite a bit of time and effort to make a good batch. You’ll need high-quality bones from healthy, grass-fed animals, organic vegetables, and at least 24 hours of consistent simmering to make the good stuff. Not down with this DIY project? Grab a few cartons of Kettle & Fire Bone Broth for whenever a craving hits.
Most other brands on the market come frozen, which is a hassle to ship and store (not to mention expensive!). Or they use preservatives and sodium to keep the product shelf-stable, which negates the health benefits. And those products that tout themselves as bone broth, but don’t have any gelatin? Well, you might as well be drinking bouillion.
Kettle & Fire has found a new way to pack and store bone broth without additives—and the product is shelf-stable for up to one year. Bonus: the wood fiber packaging is environmentally friendly and sustainable, so it’s good for your gut and the earth. Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy it.
- As a soup base alternative: Sub out sodium-filled bouillon or bland water for bone broth for extra flavor and nutrition.
- To braise meat or veggies: Add a bit of bone broth to your roasting pan to keep food from drying out in the oven as you cook. Bonus? The umami flavor of the broth will instantly upgrade your dish.
- On its own: Sipping a steaming cup of bone broth on its own is so nourishing and comforting when it’s cold out—and it’s a great way to boost immunity during cold and flu season.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho