Mamas from the old days would have gasped if they saw a bunch of unboiled bones casually discarded. They were always used to make a stock, and in numerous societies (Russian, Chinese, Japanese come to mind immediately) people drank soup or stock at almost every meal. Many still do, though it’s not as common as it once was.
Stocks add beautiful flavor to soups and savory dishes while delivering a unique cocktail of valuable amino acids, gelatin, minerals and other nutrients.
- The minerals that are pulled from the bones and into the stock are highly bio-available, meaning your body can easily absorb them. There’s nothing like watching your kids slurp up calcium, magnesium and phosphorous that you know is en route to fortifying their bones!
- Stock is loaded with healthy gelatin (which is good for joints, skin, nails, hair and digestive health). In generations past, gelatin was a key component of a healthy diet. But when traditional eating was overthrown by the processed foods industry, gelatin was pretty much dropped. Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple paints a clear picture:
“Animals have traditionally been consumed nose to tail, including all the gelatinous connective tissue that most modern meat eaters trim and toss. Real bone broths are another lost dietary component, replaced by canned “stock” and bouillon cubes. Both (gelatinous tissue and bone broths) are rich sources of gelatin. To whit, most modern eaters don’t get enough gelatin…”
- The amino acid glycine, abundant in gelatin, can help us (and kids) sleep better. Never a bad thing! Intuitively I believe this to be true because I get a sort of settled feeling from eating soup made with gelatin-rich stock. Ray Peat, a P.h.D. in Biology with some interesting insights and theories, states in this article on the subject that:
A generous supply of glycine/gelatin, against a balanced background of amino acids, has a great variety of antistress actions. Glycine is recognized as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, and promotes natural sleep. Used as a supplement, it has helped to promote recovery from strokes and seizures, and to improve learning and memory. But in every type of cell, it apparently has the same kind of quieting, protective antistress action.
HOW TO MAKE A CHICKEN STOCK
- Cartilage, a little fat and some meat still adhered to the bones is fine and good.
- I just give the bones a rinse if people have eaten off of them, like drumsticks.
- You can collect bones in the freezer til you are ready to make a stock.
- The good thing about using the whole chicken carcass is that there are lots of tiny bones and many connecting points (joints) so lots of the good stuff can get into the stock.
- If you have time, take a minute to break apart some bones with your hands or chop them with a knife to expose the marrow (which strengthens the immune system).
One chicken carcass, preferably pastured or organic (or a pile of drumstick bones, whatever you have)
1-2 large carrots chopped into thirds (or a handful of baby carrots)
one stalk of celery chopped into thirds
one onion, halved (throw in a bit of the onion skin, it helps skim the fat)
1-2 bay leaves
2 segments from a star anise pod (optional)
1 Tbsp vinegar (optional)
Veggie scraps such as asparagus ends, kale stems, etc. (optional)
- Throw all ingredients into a stock pot and cover with water (about an inch above). Gently simmer for at least three hours (I’ve gone up to 12 hours overnight in a crock pot, but some people let it go for much longer than that). If you’d like, add a tablespoon of vinegar, which is thought to help pull out more minerals from the bones.
- As foam forms at the top of your stock, skim it off.
- To strain the soup, put a clean pot or large storage container in the sink to catch it. Place a colander on top (to catch bones) and pour in the stock. Enjoy your stock as is, or make a soup with it.