Bone Broth: The Elixir of Life
Oct 01, 2015 10:15PM
● By Patricia Singer
Bone broth boutiques, an increasing store trend in locations such as New York City, are riding on an ancient tradition traced back to early China where the original alchemists were seeking the “elixir of life” – a blend of medicine and longevity – during a search for immortality.
Bone broth is an example of an alchemical process, of refining the “lead” or raw materials – bone, vegetables, herbs and spices – through the heating process. It’s a reflection of the evolution of matter from one form to another, of taking something that is “heavy” and from the earth, adding materials together and transforming those substances. In many ancient traditions, the alchemical brew was buried, heated and brought through a ritual of timing – dependent on the stars and the cycle of the moon – and cooked for a long period of time. When the transformation was complete, it was then exhumed and consumed.
Bone in traditional Chinese medicine symbolizes your essence, ancestry, and the building blocks of your DNA. Bone broth refers to an understanding that the essence of a long-cooked stock nourishes at the deepest of levels, the bones, joints, blood, building marrow, the kidneys, reproductive system and the brain. These long-cooked stocks are beneficial for those who feel depleted, run down, stressed or over-exerted. This elixir is stimulating, grounding, fortifying and nourishing and an easily digested medicinal food.
You begin with a recipe and the ingredients required for a specific dish. You put the components through a process of firing or heating via roasting, bubbling or brewing; over time the bone broth is formed. The broth is easy to make and can be consumed plain or used as the base for a more complex soup by adding vegetables, meats and beans. It may also be used as a base in place of water in cooking rice or other grains. Adding vinegar – an important key ingredient – extracts minerals like calcium and magnesium, collagen and marrow from the bones into the soup, making it easier for the body to digest.
Elixir of Life – Bone Broth Soup
• 3-6 lb of bones – such as beef marrow bones, joints with the cartilage included, chicken, veal, fish skeletons (need less cooking time) – cut into 2- to 4-in sections. Use organic or grass-fed meat products whenever possible. [To make a vegetarian stock, which can be ready in 20-60 minutes, use seaweed (usually kombu/kelp) and dried mushrooms.]
• 4-6 qt of water, enough to cover bones and vegetables. Add more to keep covered.
• 2 tsp vinegar per quart of water or per about 2 lbs of bones
• 2-3 onions, coarsely chopped
• 3-4 cloves of garlic
• 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
• 3 or more celery stalks, coarsely chopped
• 1-in slice of ginger, several sprigs of fresh thyme, parsley and other favorite herbs and spices
• 2 bay leaves
• Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake brown bones in a roasting pan for 45-60 minutes (the roasting consolidates the bones). If there is meat on the bones, remove it and refrigerate or, with the long cooking time, it can get stringy and lose taste. Add it back once the soup is complete or use it in other ways if you only want to drink the clear broth.
• In a stockpot, put in the roasted bones, cover with cold water, add the vinegar and bring to a low boil. Skim off the foam-like layer. Add vegetables, spices and herbs and reduce heat to a low simmer. You can also add the browned bones and vegetables to a slow cooker.
• Allow the soup to cook anywhere from eight hours to one to two days; the longer cooking time yields a richer broth. You can add more water as it cooks down.
• Strain the liquid into a large bowl and allow cooling. A layer of fat will settle on top of the stock, remove the fat so as to keep the stock clear. Divide the stock into containers. It will keep in the fridge for four days or freeze until needed. The cooled broth will have a jelly-like consistency due to the high gelatin content of the collagen.
Patricia Singer, MS, LAc, is a spiritual alchemist who uses a customized approach to assist in each client’s healing process. She uses acupuncture, shiatsu, aromatherapy, dietary therapy, sound and energy healing, ceremony, and spiritual counseling. Connect with her at PatSinger.com or 203-226-8897. She practices in Westport. See ad, page 17.