by Lise Takashina
Winter is the ideal season for nourishing the kidneys, and bone broth is a tasty, healthful way to do just that. This ancient food is easily assimilated and digested, and packed full of vital minerals, amino acids and micronutrients in which North Americans tend to be deficient. Bone broth has been shown to improve liver, heart and brain health, skin, bones and joints, immune and gut function, digestion, mood and sleep.
There is a trend in the food world of returning to our ancestral roots, and bone broth is no exception. In Japan, umami means “good flavor”, but more than that, it is the savory, richness that gives depth, complexity and balance to a dish. The secret of creating a bone broth full of umami is the right combination of ingredients. In Japan, this includes staples such as fish, kombu and dried shiitake mushroom dashi, or stock. The same umami effect is achieved in the European tradition of broths combining onions, carrots, celery and herbs with bones. Chinese culinary tradition achieves umami by combining chicken or pork (add feet and trotters for more gelatinous broth) with Napa cabbage, leeks and ginger.
High-quality, nutrient-dense broth is surprisingly easy to make and is extremely versatile. Use it like any stock as a base for soups, briskets and sauces, cook rice or quinoa in it or just drink it straight with a dash of fresh ginger juice instead of coffee in the morning.
Basic Bone Broth Recipe
Yields 6 to 8 servings
2 lb grass fed, organic beef femur (marrow) and knee bones (for added flavor and protein, Add 5 to 10% neck bones)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
5 qt filtered water
2 yellow onions, quartered
3 carrots, halved
3 celery stalks, halved (add at the last two hours of simmering to prevent bitterness)
1 bouquet garni (fresh parsley, thyme, and bay leaf)
1 packet Immuni-Qi bone broth Chinese herbs (optional)
1 5-in piece of kombu (found online or at Asian grocery stores)
Place the bones and kombu in a pot or crockpot with apple cider vinegar, bouquet garni (bundle of herbs), Immuni-Qi Chinese herbs and water. On low to medium heat, bring the temperature up very slowly until the water appears to be rolling, but not boiling.
After about an hour or so, scum and fat will start to appear on the surface. Carefully skim off and discard.
Cover and simmer for 12 to 72 hours. Cool and drain the broth. If desired, pull the marrow out of the bones and add to the broth.
Add sea salt.
Once refrigerated, there will be a layer of fat forming at the top. If continuing to refrigerate, this serves as a seal. It will keep up to seven days in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer.
*Beef bones can be substituted with lamb, pork or wild game. For chicken or turkey (perfect for after Thanksgiving), add ginger and leeks and simmer six to 24 hours instead of 12 to 72 hours. For a bolder flavor, roast the marrow bones before simmering, but keep in mind that some nutritional value is lost that way. A good option is to roast half of the marrow bones for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Chinese herbs that benefit energy and digestion, strengthen immune function, blood circulation, and formation may be added not only for additional medicinal properties, but also to enhance the taste. Ginseng is a famous adaptogenic herb commonly used in China. Huang Qi and Dang Shen are mild and sweet herbs that work well with any broth. Goji berries are easily accessible and not only add beautiful color, they are excellent at nourishing blood and benefiting the eyes.
Lise Takashina, LAc, grew up in Japan and is an acupuncturist and herbalist in Coeur d’Alene. She is the owner of Peony Acupuncture & Apothecary, at 302 N. 5th St. Takashina offers Chinese herb bone broth packets at her clinic. For more information, call 208-292-4829. Additional recipes can be found at PeonyAcupuncture.com. See Community Resource Guide listing, page xx.