Homemade bone broth is probably the single most nourishing, healing, and easy to digest food I can think of. The gelatin from the bones protects and heals the lining of the gut and facilitates the digestion of other food. Broth is also loaded with minerals including calcium and magnesium, which are more easily absorbed by the body than those in found in supplements. Regularly consuming bone broth can also strengthen hair, nails, and bones, reduce inflammation, and improve immunity. (For more about the benefits of broth read this article: Why Broth is Beautiful)
The stuff you buy at the supermarket, on the other hand? That’s not nourishing. In fact, it’s more like the opposite. Here are the ingredients for Swanson’s Chicken Broth:
Chicken broth, salt, monosodium glutamate, dextrose, yeast extract, chicken flavor, flavoring, corn syrup solids, autolyzed yeast extract, chicken fat, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken broth powder (plus, BPA if you’re buying it in cans).
Do you even know what most of those things are??
Even if you buy organic chicken broth, without the MSG, yeast, and soy added in, it’s missing the gelatin and the minerals… the most beneficial parts of the broth.
Another reason to make your own chicken broth, especially for those with functional GI disorders like gastroparesis or IBS, is that most commercial chicken broths contain FODMAPs (usually onion/onion powder). That means the broth could leave you bloated, gassy, or with stomach pain. When you make your own, you control the ingredients.
I make a batch of FODMAP-friendly chicken stock each week and drink it between meals, in addition to using it for soups and to cook Lily’s grains. Here’s what I do… (keep in mind this isn’t a “recipe” so much as a method)
- Large stock pot
- Cheesecloth or very fine mesh strainer
- BPA-free storage containers
- Whole chicken, chicken carcass, or 2-3 lbs chicken bones
- 10-12 cups filtered water (approximate)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped in half
- 10 chives, washed (or 1 onion, peeled and quartered if not FODMAP sensitive)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp thyme
- large chunk of peeled ginger (2-3 inches)
- Put chicken/bones in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover (at least 8-10 cups).
- Add the vinegar. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes (this will pull the minerals out of the bones).
- Bring to a gentle boil and skim off the “scum” (dirty foamy stuff) that comes to the top.
- Lower the heat and let the broth simmer.
- If you’re using a whole chicken, remove it after 1.5 hours. Let it sit until cool enough to handle.
- Remove the meat. Return all bones to the pot and bring it back to a simmer.
- Let the broth cook for at least 6 hours but up to 24 hours.
- Add optional vegetables and herbs for the last 3-4 hours of cooking.
- Allow finished broth to cool.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Store the broth in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to harden on the top (optional).
- Skim the fat off the top (optional) and then refrigerate or freeze the finished broth.
- Choose organic chicken whenever possible to avoid ingesting hormones and antibiotics. If your only option is to use non-organic chicken, however, that’s still better than using store-bought broth.
- I usually start with a whole chicken and use the cooked meat for meals for my husband (soups, stews, burritos, salads, etc.). You can also add the cooked chicken back into the finished broth along with tolerated veggies to make a delicious and truly nourishing chicken soup.
- If you don’t want to use a whole chicken, you can use the carcass from a roasted chicken or several pounds of bones from chicken thighs, breasts, etc. (You can store your bones from in a Ziplock bag in the freezer until you have enough to make stock.)
- The longer you cook the broth, the higher the mineral content will be. If I’m going to cook it longer than 12 hours, I will use a crockpot. I usually transfer it to the crockpot after step 6. Cooking broth longer than 24-36 hours isn’t recommended, as the flavor may suffer.
- If all goes well, your broth will “gel” in the fridge. This means there’s a lot of healing gelatin in it! It will re-liquefy when heated. Sometimes homemade broth doesn’t gel; it is still very nourishing
- If you won’t be using all of your broth within a week, store it in the freezer. I use glass containers to store broth, as plastic often contains BPA, a chemical that can affect hormones and impact fertility among other things. If you’re going to freeze your broth, be sure the container is freezer safe and allow extra room for the broth to expand as it freezes (otherwise you will end up with broken jars and wasted broth).
- Broth is healthy and healing for the entire family, not just GPers. Make soups with it, use it in mashed potatoes, boil rice or other grains in it, and/or drink it as a warm beverage.
- Save your Thanksgiving turkey bones! You can use this same method to make a nourishing turkey stock.