I've been reading a lot about the benefits of gelatin lately. Many who suffer with digestion issues or joint recovery hail gelatin as a super food that coats the gut, eases joint pain, even aiding in the health and growth of hair, skin, nails, teeth and bones. Seeking these benefits for my own family I was led to, www.greatlakesgelatin.com. Great Lakes offers the highest quality unflavored gelatin available. And though I enjoyed creating variations of fruit juice dessert gelatin (see my recipe for pineapple beet gelatin), I wanted to incorporate collagen, gelatin and glucosamine into other dishes that do not contain sweetener. That's when I learned about the paleo nutrition staple, bone broth.
Step 1: Roasting the Bones
This is simple and inexpensive. As a supplement it should be a part of your daily diet. First, roast some marrow bones seasoned with salt and pepper in the oven at 450° for 15 min. This roasting step is optional. I have made broth with cold bones, but prefer the added flavor of roasting. Either way, you will need enough to cover the bottom of a large crock pot, about 2-3 lbs should do it. There is another benefit to roasting the bones. The roasted marrow in the finished bones is considered a gourmet treat on its own (see my recipe for Roasted Bone Marrows) but for now, remember that you are about to make broth and need most of the bones for your recipe..although I'm sure no quality will be lost if you sneak a couple to spread on toast!
Step 2: Optional Flavoring
More or less of all the following ingredients is fine. Add an onion a couple of carrots and celery ribs, a clove of garlic and a bunch of parsley. (This is optional) I've read some recipes excluding the vegetables but I prefer the flavor. Of course you can use any combination of herbs and vegetables that you like or have on hand. Just keep in mind that certain herbs and vegetables can leave a bitter taste and ruin your stock, so you may want to do a little research before throwing something in your pot that you haven't tried before.
Step 3: Simmer Into Broth
Add only enough water to cover the bones, otherwise you will not achieve the gelatinous effect when your broth is refrigerated. Instead it will remain watery when refrigerated and when warmed, it will taste bland. Gelling of your bone broth is proof that you extracted the collagen from the animal product. I have also read that soaking the bones in vinegar prior to cooking or adding 1-2 table spoons of Balsamic or Apple Cider Vinegar to the water before cooking, will assist in leaching minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus from the bones. In some recipe notations I read that using "regular vinegar" can "ruin" your broth. I personally prefer the aroma and taste without any type of added vinegar and my broth gels perfectly without it. Cook on low all day and night.
Step 4: Finishing Steps
In the morning drain the broth through a fine mesh sieve into a glass or plastic container and refrigerate until the fat solidifies. The rendered fat, or tallow, can be stored (see photo) and used in place of vegetable oil for frying. I know, frying sounds so unhealthy, but again I learned of more health benefits. Apparently, tallow is almost 50% monounsaturated fat (the good for you fat), and some studies have shown that tallow may have a positive impact on reducing cancer growth. Additionally, Grassfed beef fat has a high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which is good for cholesterol levels. If you're not sure where to find Grassfed beef bones, I suggest you check your local farmers market. If you don't find a vender, ask around, someone at a farmers market is bound to have a reputable source.
Step 5: Scoop the Goop
Once you have removed the tallow, scoop yourself a nice portion of gelatin. Don't worry you won't be eating it cold!
Step 6: Heat
Just pop the gelatin in the microwave for a minute or two and enjoy. You can also use this broth in any recipe that calls for liquid such as rice or beans. Use it to make soup, sauces and gravies. Broth adds flavor to cooked vegetables, eggs and mashed potatoes. As I conjure up more ways to use bone broth, aspic comes to mind...and though I find it tempting to create a beautiful aspic, I have no desire to eat any! If you attempt an aspic, or come up with new ways to incorporate bone broth into your diet, please share your results with me. I would love to hear from you.