By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
Last weekend I went to Berrima to give a presentation about food waste. It was one of my favourite talks where I take the leftovers from a roast chicken dinner and make a frittata with the leftover veggies, stock from the carcass, soup from the stock and dog treats from the stock residue. All that's left to be thrown out is onion skin which I can't even give to the worms (does anyone have any ideas on what to do with onion skins? Make paper perhaps!).
Anyway, during a tea break and on the subject of stocks and Crohn's disease, a lady told the group about her friend whose gut lining was so destroyed her doctor told her there was nothing else he could do to treat her. She'd been raised on a highly processed carbohydrate and sugar diet and over the years her digestive system had got progressively worse. Someone told her about bone broths and with nothing left to lose she decided to give them a try. After, I'm not sure how long, her gut function improved and we were told her health is virtually restored.
You may have heard about a condition called "leaky gut". It occurs when the gut lining is damaged and instead of tiny little passageways which allow the slow exchange of nutrients to pass into the blood stream, large gaps develop in the intestinal wall and larger particles such as gluten, bacteria and undigested macronutrients are able to pass straight into the bloodstream. This can trigger an immune or inflammatory response (or both) and any number of conditions including anxiety, depression, psoriasis, acne, Hashimitos disease, IBS, arthritis, fibromyalgia, fatigue and food allergies.
Author of the book "Gut and Psychology Syndrome", Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride describes bone broth as being excellent for "healing and sealing" a leaky gut. It's a wonderful term to describe how gelatine from bones works to seal the gut wall and attract digestive juices long enough to enable full digestion. Not only do we get goodness from the gelatine in bones but we can also benefit from chondroidin sulphates and glucosamine released when cartilage is boiled down. Both these compounds are known to ease oint pain and inflammation. There are plenty of other health benefits to drinking bone broths but you can always Google them while I get onto what I really want to say.
In the interests of convenience and fast tracking a result we've created disease. If you forgive the pun, bone broth was the very back bone of cooking in the days when packaged food was limited to sparse provisions distributed to the military during WW1. It was served as a simple broth, used to make clear soups and more hearty broths, in stews, casseroles and purees. Without the broth there was less flavour and goodness in the meal.
I have a treasured book of my mother's called The Woman's Room. It was published in 1918, and in the chapter called "Guide to Cookery" it starts off with stocks.
Here's a summary of what it says about general stock. But note that it is a summary, the chapter goes on for pages.
In every household where meat is used every day a stockpot should be in general use. In large houses where much cooking is done it is better to have one fitted with a tap which will permit of the liquid being drawn off when required without disturbing the fat which rises to the top. The bones and any pieces of meat of value may be put into the pot with any fresh scraps. Nothing must be added to a stock pot unless it is quite clean and contains some goodness. Little bits must not be added at odd times but only when the stock pot is put on for a day; all other pieces should be saved for the next day.
You can read from that how important stocks once were in cooking.
In TGGD there's a recipe for chicken stock, and in my talk I discuss how it makes no economic sense to buy stock. A good quality stock costs about $7 for 500 ml and you can make a 2.5 L pot of stock using leftovers from a meal for 4 with an extra onion and a carrot. I don't usually go into the health benefits other than the amount of salt in packaged stock and additives in cheaper packs.
From now on I think I will.
How to make bone broth
(recipe adapted from The Woman's Room 1918)
1 kg beef shin bone
2 litres cold water
*2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 carrot, washed and cut into small pieces
1 turnip, washed and cut into small pieces
1 sprig each thyme, marjoram and basil
2 small onions, peeled and cut into pieces
2 stick celery, washed and cut into pieces
1 tsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/2 tbs salt
Wipe the meat with a damp cloth.
Cut off any of the meat into very small pieces and discard the fat.
Put the bones and meat into a large stock pot with the cold water and salt and allow to soak for 30 minutes.
Place the pan on the hot plate and slowly bring the liquid to the boil. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes before removing any scum from the surface of the water. Don't be tempted to remove the scum any sooner as you'll remove the best part of the stock.
Add the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns
The herbs and spices can be wrapped in a small parcel of muslin (bouquet garni)
Simmer slowly for at least 5 hours.
Strain through a fine sieve and allow to cool.
Leave the fat on top until you're ready to use the stock as this prevents the stock from spoiling.
*vinegar was not included in the original recipe but is recommended because it helps leech minerals from the bones.
An Old Tip from 1918
A few washed and crushed egg shells put into the stock will help clear the scum!