It seems like a contradiction, calling something both a trend and a new mainstay for home cooking. But bone broth currently fits both descriptions.
The health benefits of bone broth have driven the current trend. Everyone from the L.A. Times to the popular website Eater have sung the praises of bone broth. Most of those praises center on the nutrients and vitamins that bone broth offers.
The reason why it looks like bone broth could remain popular for the foreseeable future is that those benefits are actually true.
Here’s a closer look at both the health benefits of bone brothand the trend that has emerged in recent years.
Why Is Bone Broth So Popular?
The short answer is that people simply figured out that bone broth is a natural source for a host of nutrients. Of course, people long ago knew this and used bone broth in everyday cooking. So, in a way, the current trend is driven by people figuring this out again.
Bone broth is made by slow-cooking bone, usually for at least a day, and often adding aromatics like onions, garlic and herbs. According to Eater, people made bone broth at least by the mid-18th century in France, where innkeepers made it for weary travelers. These bowls of broth were called restoratifsbecause they restored health and wellness.
It also provided the basis for the word restaurant.
The latest trend exploded because of health food writers. They expounded on the benefits of bone broth and chefs around the world began picking up on it.
For example, chef Marco Canora created a takeaway window in an unused area of the East Village restaurant Hearth, where he is the chef. He served bone broth. It became a hit. He even wrote a book about bone broth.
In the United Kingdom, food writers Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley became two of the biggest advocates for bone broth. They told The Guardian that they grew up eating bone broth served by their Filipino mother. They told the newspaper, “It’s delicious, soothing and easy to make. Nutritionally, it’s a champion all-rounder, packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, collagen and keratin.”
Following the usual pattern, it then started making its way into home cooking.
Differences Better Broth, Soup Stock and Bone Broth
Before you understand the health benefits of bone broth, it’s important to understand what bone broth actually is and how to make it. It’s not regular broth or soup stock. What do we mean? The following offers a brief explanation of all three.
Broth. Broth comes from slow-cooking meat on the bone for a relatively short period of time, anywhere from one to three hours. It produces a thin, protein-rich broth.
Soup stock. In this case, meat on the bone is often first roasted before cooked over low heat for a long period of time (it usually smells better if you do this). The stock comes from slow-cooking the meat and bone for a longer period, typically three to eight hours.
Bone Broth. Bone broth is made primarily from slow-cooking bones, although there may still be a bit of meat attached. Again, the bones typically get roasted first to improve the smell and flavor. They are cooked for a much longer period, typically at least 24 hours. That ensures that as many nutrients and minerals are extracted from the bones as possible. The bones should crumble with just the slightest pressure once the cooking is done.
Are The Health Benefits of Bone Broth Real?
As noted by the Hemsley sisters, bone broth provides a host of nutrients. Because of the long, slowing cooking process, the bones are broken down and release nutrients and minerals that are easier for the body to absorb. They include collagen, gelatin and glucosamine. Bones also contain calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
Each provides its own health benefit. Collagen, for example, is reduced to a gelatin when slow-cooked, providing the body with amino acids that are the building block of proteins.
Also, bone marrow contains iron, vitamins A and K, fatty acids and zinc.
Where Can You Find Bone Broth?
Any bones left over after you cook meat you have purchased can be used to make broth, of course. However, some bones are better than others.
For example, Acabonac Farms offers a Bone Box as one of its packaged, shippable boxes. The Bone Box contains femur bones from grass-fed and pasture-finished cattle. As with all the products from Acabonac Farms, you get the health benefits of cattle raised 100% on grass without the use of any growth-promoting steroids or antibiotics.
In many ways, the bone broth trend is about returning to the “old-fashioned” values that people used when cooking food before the emergence of processed food. It’s a return to eating naturally and promoting good health through what you eat.