Bone Broth: How to Boost its Healing Power

When a nutrient-dense food makes you feel so good, it’s easy to make a habit out of it. Indeed, homemade bone broth energizes, heals and sustains in a way that no other food can. That’s why diverse cultures throughout the world use stock made from bones. Read more about the healing properties of bone broth here.

Favor Non-Reactive Cookware for Making Bone Broth
Favor Non-Reactive Cookware for Making Bone Broth

If you are a broth maker, or are ready to become one, here are two ways to enhance the healing power of your broth. Number one: Beef it up by adding vegetables, culinary herbs and Chinese medicinal herbs. Number two: Use a nonreactive pot.

A simple mix of water and bones can make a broth that sets into a beautifully quivering gelatin that you can enjoy straight as a tonic or as an ingredient in soups, stews and sauces. It’s standard to cook your broth with salt and vinegar, as these two ingredients expedite nutrient extraction and enhance flavor and shelf life. But why stop there?

For increased nutrition and flavor, I also add vegetables and herbs to my broth. And to boost the broth’s potency, I add Chinese medicinals.

Add Nutrient-Dense Medicinals to Your Broth

For the last two hours of simmering the broth, I add a variety of flavoring and medicinal ingredients. My standard veggies include a carrot, onion, celery rib and parsley. For good herbal flavor, I toss in bay leaf, garlic, black peppercorns, whole allspice and, in the dead of winter, a few cloves (I don’t use cloves in warm weather, as they are, for my preference, overly heating).

The medicinals that I add to broth include therapeutic ingredients like goji, lotus seed, astragalus, shiitake and kombu. They are potent sources of nutrients and add a sweet flavor. Here’s a link for my Bone Stock Recipe with Chinese Medicinal Herbs. It includes a glossary of medicinal herbs well suited to bone broth.

It makes sense that adding nutrient-dense ingredients to your broth ups its flavor and healing potential. That’s because flavor components and nutrients are one and the same. Think of it this way: A carrot that is fresh, organic and grown in rich soil has more flavor and nutrients and is more satisfying than one that was conventionally grown in depleted soil and past its prime. So what you don’t add to your broth is just as important as what you add.

Cook Your Bone Broth in a Nonreactive Pot

As broth is simmered for a long time, up to 48 hours, it’s important to make it in a nonreactive stockpot. Here’s why. Stainless steel is moderately reactive (aluminum and nonstick cookware are more reactive). The release of heavy metals from stainless steel is increased by salt, long cooking, and an acid such as vinegar, and all three are present in bone broth.

With dismay I watched my quality stainless steel stockpot start to corrode from all those long simmering bones with added salt and vinegar. A pitted pot leaches chromium and nickel, so mine is now in a landfill.

Ceramic Pot forMaking Chicken Bone Broth
Roasted Chicken Carcass in Ceramic Dutch pot

Your nonreactive stock pot choices are a slow cooker with a ceramic insert or a 100% ceramic pot. I favor my stovetop ceramic Dutch pot, see photo, as I prefer cooking on a gas range to an electric current. (I find foods cooked over a more dense fuel like wood, charcoal or gases convey more flavor and energy than foods cooked by electricity. Yes, it’s a subtle distinction but—to me—notable and significant.) Whatever your range-top options, I do hope you find a way to get into a broth-making habit. It’s a keeper.

(Note: I am a Ceramcor affiliate because I’ve found this nonreactive line to be the most versatile and long-lived ceramic cookware. If you purchase from this page, I’ll receive a small percentage of your sale.)

4 Responses to Bone Broth: How to Boost its Healing Power

  1. What about using cast iron for making broth. I’m a huge fan of cast iron for almost everything (cooking.) It may be reactive but is iron not a good thing to consume? Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t. The iron taints the broth with a metallic off flavor that is not bioavailable. While I value my cast iron pans for sautéing and making crepes I never use them for fluid ingredients.

  2. I would like to pressure can my bone broth after adding some medicinal herbs. Will pressure canning effect the herbal potency or effectiveness?

    • Good question. Regrets, but I don’t have a definitive answer. Some nutrients are lost with prolonged cooking and/or high temps. I’ve always preferred keeping my stock at a simmer for that reason. You can try this: Try pressure canning a batch and then compare it to a batch of fresh. Then trust your gut response.