What the Doctor (Should Have) Ordered
Cooler weather is here to stay and we are on the brink of the holiday season. This is the perfect time to talk about homemade stock.
Can you identify this processed food?
Chicken stock, chicken flavor (maltodextrin, water, dextrose, salt, chicken flavor [chicken stock, salt, enzymes], autolyzed yeast extract, onion powder, chicken fat, modified food starch, ascorbic acid, sugar, rosemary extract), salt, dextrose, spice extract, carrots, celery, flavoring, onions, water, sugar, sodium phosphate, autolyzed yeast extract, soy lecithin, citric acid.
Here is a picture:
Now identify the homemade version:
Bony chicken parts, filtered water, celery, carrot, onion, vinegar, parsley.
And, a picture … Can you SEE the difference????
Both are supposed to be the same thing yet one can bring good health and healing while the other can slowly rob you of your health. One originates in a lab and is manufactured in a processing plant while the other comes straight from God’s creation. Have you figured out what it is?
Chicken stock. Yes, it isn’t just a folk tale – chicken stock, and all properly prepared bone broth (fish, beef, chicken), is truly good for what ails you. Stocks are definitely nutrient dense for many reasons but the secret to their “power” lies in the use of acidic wine or vinegar which draws valuable minerals from the bones into the stock in a form that is ready to use by your body. That means your body does not have to work hard to digest stock. Think of it as “ready to use” minerals, a far better electrolyte solution than Gatorade. Be sure that any store bought stock will not have undergone this simple preparation.
Bone broths (yes I am using “broth” and “stock” interchangeably), like all whole foods, are just loaded with good things but because they are so easily digested broths are superior to other foods. Good stock is your best source of usable calcium, especially if you cannot have dairy. Other healing minerals include iodine, magnesium, and potassium. Gelatin is another particularly important aspect of good stock because it is a powerful digestive aid in that it enables the body to fully use proteins. Gelatin is helpful for cancer, arthritis, anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and more.
If you are sick, whether serious or mild, your body is working hard to strengthen its defenses and repair the problem. To do this requires vitamins and minerals, as well as energy. If your body is already running on empty, it makes the job much harder. Digesting the healthful food you eat is how your body gets what it needs to have a strong immune system. If you are not giving your body nutritious foods, then it is expending a lot of effort for very little result. If you are giving your body sugary treats, you are literally suppressing your immune system for several hours at a time. So your body is working and working and working to fight off sickness and heal itself, yet it is fighting a losing battle. And even depleting your body of more energy and strength in the process. This is where bone broths come in. They are just what your body needs – all the right minerals in a form that won’t require any extra energy to digest. Lots of bang for the buck.
So what is wrong with broths from the grocery store? Read over the ingredient list at the top and see that store broths are made of a lot of processed chemicals. Some of them are actually known to cause cancer. A good stock must be properly prepared using the very best ingredients you can afford. Think of it as health insurance. You would spare no amount of money if it meant the health of a loved one. This is no different. And the good news is, you can easily make your own nutritious stock at home, using ingredients you probably already have on hand.
Here is a recipe for chicken stock from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, page 124:
1 whole free range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
feet from the chicken (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands an dthe gizzards from the cavity. By all means, use chicken feet if you can find them – they are full of gelatin. Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large pot with water, vinegar, and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth. Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass and reserve it for other uses. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
A few comments … chicken feet sound gross but they are a very valuable addition to your stock by adding silicon which is good for strong, flexible bones, healthy cartilage, connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, etc. A local farmer is your best source for healthy chicken feet. Also, I rarely use a whole chicken in my stock. My family eats a roast chicken several times a month. When we have had all we’re going to eat, I take the entire carcass, skin, fat, meat bits, and all the juice and put it in the freezer. When I go to make stock, I will use 2 or 3 of these carcasses at one time and add in 4 to 6 chicken feet. I don’t even wait for them to thaw – just dump it all in the pot with the vinegar, water, and vegetables like the recipe says. This is an extremely economical way to make stock – we lose count of how many meals we get from just one chicken! And the stock is always gelatinous, rich, and delicious. I try to let my stock simmer 24 hours, even when we are not home. Sometimes I just turn the heat off when we leave and turn it on when we return. The results are still excellent. Remember that simmer doesn’t mean rolling boil; simmer means just barely bubbling. Finally, you’ll need to let the stock cool on the stove before you strain it. I have left it sitting on the stove for an entire day before and when I finally got around to straining it, it was still warm. Once you refrigerate the stock, it will take at least one overnight in order to gel and form the fat on top. After skimming the fat, I freeze it in quart sized containers. Sometimes it is helpful to freeze a little in one or two cup amounts or even in ice cube trays so you always have the right size for your recipes.
Good news: you can use the above recipe with the carcass from your Thanksgiving turkey! Just put the whole thing – skin, bones, meat bits, juice, fat, everything – into the pot and follow the above recipe. You will get 6 to 8 quarts of golden rich, nourishing, and truly delicious stock. For FREE!
Bone broths are not just good for you, but they are truly delicious. Once you have had the real thing you will never be able to go back. Anything else will be bland and watery. Soups will become a special treat that you will want to eat frequently because they will not only be so easy to make but delicious as well. Last year I got caught without stock and ended up getting a mild flu. My sweet husband knew I needed some good soup so he made a special trip to the health food store and carefully read the label of every can/carton of broth available. He did his best to pick the least offensive one. He came home and made my special soup … No one could eat it! It was absolutely tasteless. And this was certified organic, all natural broth! There is a huge difference between the processed stuff at the store and the real thing you make at home. Homemade broth is superior in every way.
Our ancestors may not have understood the science behind it, but they never doubted the healing power of bone broths. They witnessed it many times. I have felt it myself, and seen it work on my own family. Be a wise woman and make stock right away. Make sure you always have a good supply on hand, and make a point to eat it once a week during cold and flu season. It is just what the doctor should have ordered!