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Tracing the History of Bone Broth: From Prehistoric to Modern Drink

history of bone broth
Written by Kelvin Omere

The history of bone broth is not commonly discussed. nevertheless, once it starts cooking, the savory scent from the mixture can be quite teasing. Sipping this warm, tasty, and nutritious drink is what humans have enjoyed even from as far as back as the prehistoric times.

The art of making bone broth has been passed down from generations to generations of a variety of cultures. It has become a widely known tradition. In the past, stock, which is another form of bone broth, was on the menus of the very first inns or restaurants. It was a pleasing refreshment to the cold, weary traveler.

In recent times, these delicacies have gained popularity due to their nutritional benefits and mineral density. Both drinks are the contemporary culinary master’s delight. Every chef guards his recipe jealously. Broth can be a very nice staple when improving the flavors of gravies, stews, sauces, and soups.

The legendary French chef, Auguste Escoffier, made a declaration: “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.”

The mixtures are made from materials gotten from animals and plants. Bone broth ingredients from animals may include bones, connective tissues, and cartilages. On the other hand, the ones gotten from plants may include spices and vegetables.

These savory mixtures can be used in various ways: In casseroles, stews, soups, as a beverage, and so on. Bone broth’s nutritional value has a high percentage of protein. It has certain health benefits that prove that it is ‘liquid gold’.

The History of Bone Broth

It is surprising that the earliest known method of broth-making involved cooking without the use of pots, which were non-existent then. What the early men utilized were the stomachs or empty abdominal pouches of the animals they killed while hunting. The mixtures consisted of bones, meat, vegetables, and of course, water. Heat was provided with the aid of hot stones placed in fires.

The history of bone broth making can be traced back to the prehistoric era where the inedible parts of animals were processed into a broth drink. The drink was a common part of the pre-historic diet. It is an ancient tradition that dates back to 1000 AD.

In North American civilizations, these meaty elixirs were commonly used as sources of nutrition. The most commonly used by-product from the boiled mixture of bones was a kind of fat known as ‘bone butter’.

In Asia, the Chinese used it to make their traditional medicines. This can be dated to as far back as 2,500 years ago. It was used to aid digestion, to strengthen the kidneys, and as a blood builder.

Many other cultures like the Jewish also use the product for the treatment of various ailments such as cold, influenza (flu), and so on. In the 12th century, physician Moses Maimonides prescribed chicken soup as a remedy for asthma and colds in Egypt. He was of the opinion that broths were excellent medications.

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Maimonides was a well-respected Jewish philosopher and Rabbi, making some to believe this was why chicken soup has been a part of traditional Jewish cuisines for centuries. It has even been called ‘Jewish Penicillin’ due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Stock has been a staple in the preparation of many delicacies in past centuries. It was prepared by ancient Romans, where some of the traditional dishes included pork in a sweet wine and fig sauce, in addition to pig’s trotters and pearl barley. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed the drink to patients suffering from digestive issues in ancient Greece.

The French also used this food item in the eighteenth century. Then, it was seen as the foundation of French cooking or the ‘fond’. Other countries that have used stock are Australia, Germany, Scotland, and some other European nations.

In places like the Caribbean, cow foot, which is very rich in collagen, is used to make the dish. The Koreans and Japanese are known for their seolleongtang and tonkotsu respectively. The two products are thick and creamy with animal fats. They are also rich in myoglobin which is contained in the bone marrow.

Bone broths have been given many names in different languages. It is called bouillon in France, while the Spanish and Portuguese refer to it as caldo. Brodo is the name given to it by the Italians.

In Modern Times

  • Paleo-eating

Our main subject is an integral part of the paleo (Paleolithic) diet. It is described as an elixir that chefs and cooks continue to cherish in catering for those who are into paleo-eating. The Paleolithic diet is seen as a modern fad diet (gaining popularity). It is also called stone-age or caveman diet.

Typically, the diet includes meat (and bones), fruits, vegetables, and nuts. It excludes foods such as processed oils, sugar, dairy products, legumes, grains, alcohol, salt, or coffee. The basis of the diet is the avoidance of processed foods and meals that humans started eating after the Neolithic Revolution (a transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the practice of settled agriculture).

Modern paleo-eating can be traced to the ideas brought forth by Walter L. Voegtlin in the 1970s. The diet was popularized by Loren Cordain (American nutritionist and exercise physiologist) in his best-selling books which were issued in the 21st century (2002-2012).

The reason for the rise in the popularity of this diet is due to it being promoted as a way of improving human health. Some evidence have been put forth about the benefits of the diet to metabolism, calorie restriction, and body composition. Millions of paleo-eating Americans have made it a substitution for chai and espresso.

Surely, with such pieces of information circulating about the possible benefits of a Paleolithic lifestyle, broths will be on the minds of more and more people in the near future. However, there is really no need to adopt this kind of diet just to enjoy a nice cup of warm broth at any time of the day.

  • As a Trending Beverage
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Broths are seen as substitutes for coconut water and green juice for those seeking to improve their health. They are even touted to have mystical connections to the ancient world like quinoa and yogurt. Some have decided to try cooking their very own home-made stock, as it is fast becoming a favorite drink in many households of some parts of the world ― notably Asia.

This comfort meal has four varieties in France: Raw chicken, light veal, roasted chicken, and dark veal. In French tradition, the watchword is clarity. At the end of production, the mixture should be clear enough to read the information on a coin settled at the bottom of the pot.

Bone Broth Vs Stock: Is There a Clear Difference?

Many people use the terms interchangeably because they both contain bones and meat. The difference between these two might not be clear when you look into the bowl, but it can be ascertained in the kitchen. It is a fact that the proportion of bones is higher than that of meat in stock.

The nutritional content of bones (minerals, amino acids, and collagen) in the mixtures are beneficial to our health. They can be successfully extracted through long periods of cooking with the addition of some acid to the pot (like vinegar, wine or a very little portion of tomato paste).

Gelatin in the mixtures is gotten from the collagen contained in the bones used. It is a colorless, translucent component that improves the texture of the drink, provides fullness, and has healing properties. The benefits of the other ingredients may include immune support, detoxification, and so on.

Another way to differentiate between the two is the fact that stocks have more density and are thicker, but with less flavor. On the contrary, broths are essentially more liquid and are well-seasoned with spices and herbs. Most times, the spices and herbs contain healing properties.

Making Bone Broth or Stock

Consider the use of fresh, high quality bones during preparation. Preferably, you can use long bones like legs, shoulders, hips, backs, and/or others. For the cartilaginous ingredients, you should consider the use of the feet, knuckles, joints, and/or others.

It is advisable to begin your cooking with cold water, then gradually make it simmer gently. This has to go on for as many hours as possible. The process of starting cold and slowly heating the mixture will separate the soluble ingredients from the solid ones. The impurities in the bones will rise and accumulate at the surface which will enable you to skim them off easily.

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Another principle involves the reduction of heat immediately the mixture hits boiling point. Let it simmer without a lid for a number of hours so as to keep it from coming to a boil again. Fat droplets and impurities will start to form a cloudy suspension. The impurities will form a frothy film on the top of the broth, enabling the cook to be able to skim it off with the use of a ladle or mesh skimmer.

The number of hours required for simmering depends on the bone broth ingredients or bone broth recipeused (the type of bones, meat, and so on). Simmering can go on for as long as 24 hours.

It is not necessary to add salt. Your other ingredients (like sodium from the bones) will be enough to give the drink a nice flavoring. When you notice that the impurities have stopped aggregating at the top, you can decide to add spices/aromatics, herbs, and so on.

At the end of the process, let the bone broth cool off quickly to keep it bacteria-free. You can utilize an ice-bath for a faster cooling process, rather than letting the broth/stock cool off by itself at room temperature. The use of plastic containers is not advisable for the cooling process because they insulate hot food and will cause delay.

If you are interested in learning how to make bone broth, then this article must have been of great help. It will be of help to those who have deep reverence for any time-honored bone broth recipe. You can be the creator of your very own home-made bone broth. How to make your own unique recipe? That is a question whose answer depends on your patience and the number of attempts you will put into attaining perfection.

Storing Bone Broth: How to Make Your Finished Product Fat-Free

Fat rises to the top during cooling and has to be removed before storing the drink. You will start by removing the solids with a slotted spoon. Using a ladle, convey the drink from the pot into a large mesh strainer or fine mesh strainer. The strainers should be lined with several layers of cheesecloth.

No matter how many times you strain, a layer of fat will form on the top of the drink. This layer of fat is beneficial for the preservation of the product while being refrigerated for up to 3 to 4 days. If you are ready to use the product, all you have to do is skim the fat off, then boil the mixture for three minutes.

If you want to refrigerate it, transfer your container into a wide-mouth jar, while allowing at least one or two inches of space in-between for the sake expansion. The finished product can be kept frozen for up to three months. If you want to use it for the preparation of soup, stew, or sauce, you can keep the recipe simple. A combination of bones, celery, parsley, and carrot will do.

Final Words..

With the arrival of new innovations, traditional methods of food preparation were replaced with faster alternatives that depleted most of the nutrients in the food during preparation. With broth gaining more popularity, people will have a way to get many of the essential nutrients that their bodies need. Apart from the above benefits mentioned, it is regarded as a superfood that makes our hair, skin, nails, and joints healthier.

There is no big deal in knowing how to make bone broth. Many have since started opening special shops to sell the drink. The reason for the recent buzz about this wonder drink cannot be over-emphasized. It may be the key to your longevity. A South American proverb makes an allusion to broth: “A good broth can resurrect the dead.”

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Kelvin Omere

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