A classic traditional remedy to nourish the Jing (essence) and strengthen the Kidneys is the use of bone marrow. A perfect winter food, bone broth has been is prepared in cultures around the world as for its taste but also its medicinal properties. The broth resulting from prolonged (for up to 48 hours!) cooking in water of broken bones and vegetables provides a unique nutritious food. In China it is known as “longevity soup” and believed to promote growth and development, tonify blood, nourish in times of sickness and rehabilitation, and help to prevent bone and connective tissue disorders. A word of caution however: it is best to use bones from an organically raised animal and to avoid animals raised where lead may have deposited from auto exhausts and other sources over the years as lead collects in the bones and bone marrow.
If you can spare the time for cooking a bone broth, it is relatively easy to make and once made you can find plenty of uses for it, from consuming it plain, using it as the base for a more complex soup or in place of water in the cooking of rice or other grains.
Cooking Bone Broth
- Use the bones from an organically raised animal (poultry, beef, lamb or fish). Chicken is best as it has a high concentration of red marrow. Beef and lamb bones give a nicer broth if they have been roasted in the oven first, until browned (200°C for 45-90 minutes).
- Break the bones into smaller pieces, place them in a stockpot and just cover with cold water. Add slightly acid vegetables such as carrots, celery, squash and beets as these will help extract the minerals and other nutrients from the bones and their marrow. Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice will do the same (use about 1 tablespoons per pound of bones).
- Heat the stock very slowly, gradually bringing to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for at least 6 hours, removing the scum as it arises (not necessary but results in nicer tasting broth)6 – 18 hours is an ideal cooking time for chicken bones, longer for other beef or lamb and the smaller the bone pieces the shorter the necessary cooking time. Do not let the broth come to a fast boil, and if you need to add water to keep the bones covered only add hot water (not cold).
- Leave the broth simmering for several hours and you may add other vegetables for the last couple of hours of cooking. This will add to both the flavor and nutritional value of the broth. When cooked, you can remove and disgard the bones and vegetables and strain the remaining liquid through a colander. Leave it to cool, the fat will accumulate on top and harden. You can then remove the fat and refrigerate the broth. It will keep for about 5 days in the fridge and can be kept for months in the freezer.
- Before re-heating the broth, it is best to remove any residual fat from the top. It can be re-heated and used as a simple nutritious drink, or for a more complex soup, add steamed or sautéed vegetables, meat, and/or beans.