Sunday, November 7, 2010

succulent stock

Stock is such a wonderful, medicinal, healing food, you must certainly keep it on hand at all times. I make mine in large batches and freeze them in mason jars with plastic lids. Broth is so wonderful, there's even an old South American Proverb that states that "good broth resurrects the dead". Why is chicken soup superior to Tylenol? In Ageless Remedies From Mother's Kitchen, the author states, "It is because chicken soup has a natural ingredient which feeds, repairs, and calms the lining in the small intestine. This inner lining is the beginning or ending of the nervous system. It is easily pulled away from the intestine through too many laxatives, too man food additives ...and parasites. Chicken soup...heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength."

It's important to note that stock and broth are two different things though most people use the two words interchangeably. Broth is typically made using mostly meat from the bird...example, you can make broth by roasting a whole chicken in the oven with added water. Stock, on the other hand, is made with mostly bones. Because stock is made from mostly bones, it contains gelatin and collagen making it nice and gelatinous when cooled in the refrigerator - though broth can also be quite gelatinous as well. 

Everyone should consume broth daily or several times daily and most especially when you are trying to heal your body. Whether you need healing from a virus, a disease, a broken bone, surgery, or just every day fatigue - broth will do the trick! It's also a perfect food for pregnancy (and easy to get down when nauseated) and lactation. Broth can also be helpful in easing food allergies, dairy allergies, bean maldigestion, grain maldigestion, IBS, leaky gut, malnutrition, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia. It also helps to aid in weight loss! Bone broth contains amino acids in a readily absorbable form that helps the body detoxify. And don't forget that it aids in digestion! Gelatin has long been valued in treatment of diseases of the digestive system. 

You can read a great article titled "Broth is Beautiful" at the Weston A. Price Foundation website. Here's an excerpt:
"Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
Fish stock, according to traditional lore, helps boys grow up into strong men, makes childbirth easy and cures fatigue. "Fish broth will cure anything," is another South American proverb. Broth and soup made with fishheads and carcasses provide iodine and thyroid-strengthening substances.
When broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin. The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. Gelatin was probably the first functional food, dating from the invention of the "digestor" by the Frenchman Papin in 1682. Papin's digestor consisted of an apparatus for cooking bones or meat with steam to extract the gelatin. Just as vitamins occupy the center of the stage in nutritional investigations today, so two hundred years ago gelatin held a position in the forefront of food research. Gelatin was universally acclaimed as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French, who were seeking ways to feed their armies and vast numbers of homeless in Paris and other cities. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal. During the siege of Paris, when vegetables and meat were scarce, a doctor named Guerard put his patients on gelatin bouillon with some added fat and they survived in good health.
The French were the leaders in gelatin research, which continued up to the 1950s. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Even the epicures recognized that broth-based soup did more than please the taste buds. "Soup is a healthy, light, nourishing food" said Brillant-Savarin, "good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion."

Did you get that? 

I'll repeat it...

"Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain." 

Wow! Now do you understand why it's so good for you? It's definitely worth the effort to make it!

A critical step in the process of making stock is to add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's) to the water in the stockpot of beef bones or 2 tablespoons to chicken bones one hour prior to cooking. This helps to release the calcium, magnesium phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and other trace minerals from the bones. 

Here's an article that gets into all the technical ins and outs, like what the exact mineral make up of broth and stock is. Another excerpt: 
"Basically then, broth will contain the ingredients that are in bone. Covering and adhering to the ends of bones to form a joint, is cartilage. Therefore broth will also contain the ingredients that are in cartilage. Bone and cartilage are both classified as connective tissue. Connective tissue is one of the four basic tissue types that exist in animals. It functions to bind or hold together and to support and strengthen the body. Connective tissue consists of a matrix, and cells that secrete the matrix. The matrix is the material that fills the space between the cells and is therefore referred to as the extracellular matrix. It is composed of protein fibers, and ground substance, which can be a liquid, a gel or a solid. Since the cells are few, it is the valuable nutrients from the matrixes of bone and cartilage, which create the substance called broth." 

Another essential in stock making, is to note that the quality of the bones you use for stock make a HUGE difference. For example, if you are using a chicken, you want the chicken to be free-range (wanders freely on pasture, eating bugs) and definitely organic. Conventionally grown chickens raised in confinement are genetically altered to grow mostly breast meat. They typically live in the dark and never see the light of day. Most never walk, due to the fast growth rates stemming from growth hormones and they live in filth. They are also fed genetically modified corn and antibiotics from the beginning. These impurities will leach out of their meat and bones when cooking your stock. Chickens need Vitamin D from sunlight to produce good nutrients in their bodies to keep them healthy which in turn keeps us healthy when we eat them. Most of these types of chickens will not produce a healthy stock that will gel. Healthy, happy chickens produce healthy meat!

The same goes for beef! You want to use bones from cows that were farm raised on pasture, consuming grass, the way God intended. You want to avoid beef that is raised in confinement. Confined cows are fed genetically modified corn when they are supposed to eat grass. The corn makes them very ill and causes them to have short life spans. Because of this, they are also fed a steady stream of antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to make it to butchering. This diet of corn also causes their Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio to be negatively out of proportion (high on the Omega 6, low on Omega 3). They live in tight quarters and are smothered in their own excrement. This is also why their meat is typically tainted with e-coli. If the cow is unhealthy, the cow's meat and bones will not be good for you either. As the old saying goes "You are what you eat".

When making chicken stock, you want to use 2-3 pounds of bony parts. I typically use the bones from a few chickens that I have frozen. There's also a bit of skin and fat left on these bones. Gizzards are good to use as well. Recently, I attained several "stew chickens" from my egg farmer. These are smaller chickens (less than 3 lbs) that used to lay eggs. They lived a full life and their egg-laying days were over. They have very little meat, so they make excellent stock. Another good addition are chicken feet, they create a great gel. I add 4 feet to a pot of stock. I obtained these from my egg farmer as well.

When making beef stock, I use about 4 lbs of "stew bones". These are bones left over from the processing of a whole grass-fed cow. We purchase 1/2 cow every 9 months or so. Some of these bones are super meaty and others have little to no meat. Look at the picture to see the wonderful marrow in the middle of this particular bone! 

In conclusion, making stock is not hard, it takes time but most of it is hands-off! Why not make it your goal for the weekend? Once you've done it, you'll continue when you taste the difference, see how cost-effective it is and realize it's just too simple not to do.

View the complete directions for making chicken stock and for making beef stock

This post is part of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy


  1. Girlfriend - what a GREAT looking blog - I am so glad you are going to be sharing all the wisdom that you have with the www - and ME! Thanks for linking this great post up with the Hearth and Soul Hop! Woo Hoo!!!
    (I love your other posts too - awesome!)
    lots and lots of love,

  2. Wow, what an informative, jam-packed post of goodness! Wonderful...thanks so much for sharing it w/ the hearth and soul hop this week!

  3. Hi! I am totally a stock makin momma too and last week I made both beef and chicken stock. With the beef stock, i add in a few hoof slices to really gel it up, as you do with the chicken feet. I still dont have a good supplier for chicken feet, but I asked my Amish farmer if he could save some for me, so hopefully the next time I get an order there will be some feet in there for my stock. What I love is that i can get picky eaters to drink stock no problem, and they have not a clue how many wonderful things they are taking in! Thanks so much for sharing on the hearth and soul hop this week! I am now following your blog! Alex@amoderatelife

  4. What a beautiful blog, thank you so much for linking up with the Hearth and Soul hop. I know that stock is the backbone of my own kitchen. Especially at this time of year, there's hardly a day that goes by that I don't use it. In fact, i use it as the liquid in most recipes. And I do my best, when cooking for my mother, who has been quite ill, to sneak stock into her food. It makes me feel like I'm on a covert operation of healing and love :)

  5. What a wonderful post! It's hard to beat homemade bone broth for nourishment. The gelatin from inside the bones, connective tissue etc is so good for ones health. i thought I'd share another link supporting the effort.

  6. Thank you for the link Jenny! That article is so jam-packed with information that I'll have to read it a few times just to give it justice.