Please, before you continue, sing the above title like the kids in the Bill Cosby Jello commercials: “J-e-l-l-o!”

Update: A reader reminded me to give some love to Sally Fallon Morell’s traditional foods cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. It’s a whole new world of offal! (Not to be confused with “awful!”)

I’m on an “ancestral wisdom” kick. You may be aware that I’m convinced that the intersection of Paleo and Weston A. Price is where magic happens. It’s the place in the universe from which magicians get the power to perform their tricks illusions. It’s the point when the Millenium Falcon jumps to hyperspace (c’mon, don’t be too good for Star Wars). It’s where the individual Powers of each Planeteer combine to become…Captain Paleo Planet.

I am fascinated by the “conventionally approved” science of this way of life – the “peer reviewed” whatnot that you can implore your doctor to read so she’ll see that her cholesterol, fat and animal-product phobia is utterly unsupported. (Or you could just pop over to the Paleo Physicians Network for an enlightened MD.) But I’m even more fascinated by the wisdom of the healthy indigenous peoples studied by Dr. Weston A. Price. These people passed down traditions of nourishment that kept them disease-free, healthy and fertile for generations before the “foods of commerce” ever marred their perfect constitutions. It just so happens that most of these traditions are Paleo-approved. However…

I believe that there is a tendency within the “Paleo” community to simply delete typical “neolithic” foods from the diet (bread, processed junk, soybean oil) while still sticking to the foods that lie within our individual paradigms. More meats – still mostly muscle meats; more veggies – maybe a few new ones; and more fats – probably more of what we already liked. We totally delete all modern dairy (with good reason – there’s a huge difference between pasteurized, homogenized, skimmified, bastardized grocery store milk and what actually comes from a cow). But the traditional cultures studied by Weston A. Price used organ meats, marrow, bone broths, raw dairy, and sometimes even animal blood (not advocating that, don’t worry) to stay unbelievably hearty and robust. From my self-experimentation, I believe that even a good Paleo-style diet can be deficient in many of the nutrients provided by these foods. How many of us eat liver? Fermented and cultured foods? How many of us are getting sufficient pre-formed Vitamin A or Vitamin K2?

Some nutrients are still sequestered from even the best Paleo-style diet. In order to be truly healthful and nourishing – and not simply a better-than-nothing “intervention diet” (Vegan Oprah-ism, Atkins, Point Counting) it’s important for a Paleo-style diet to incorporate the lessons of ancestral wisdom. Paleo may be the best, but it could always be even better.

An example: Bone broths and stocks (used interchangeably here – I’m not sophisticated enough to discern between the two). I generally use Pacific Naturals veggie broth. But ancestral wisdom suggests that a mineral-rich, nutrient-dense homemade bone broth is incredibly soothing, immune-system-strengthening, skin-brightening and gut-healing. (THIS is why homemade chicken soup is great when you’re sick!) Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet book (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) places high importance on both broths and traditional and fermented foods. Broths are filled with minerals, nutrients and natural gelatin. Remember as a kid hearing that they make Jello from horse hooves? Well, it’s (mostly) true. I made a gelatin-rich broth from a pig’s foot (BEWARE: possibly disturbing photo follows). I know it’s gelatin-rich because, when it’s refrigerated, it’s clearly bordering on Jello Jigglers territory:

Sometimes I do hate it - but food comes from somewhere. I am so thankful to the source of my food, whether plant or animal.

If you’re making a gelatin-rich broth (and you absolutely should – please browse the links I give below for more reasons why) you will want to find a good source of pig, calf or chicken feet. They’re richest in collagen and gelatin and will make the most gelatin-rich broth. I took the pig’s feet I got from Birchwood Farm & Dairy, scrubbed them, covered them with cool filtered water, brought the water to a boil, then simmered for about 3 hours before skimming and cooling. My research indicates that more than a few hours of simmering may break down the gelatin too much for it to be useful. You will often encounter gelatin-rich broths made from chicken feet in Asian markets. Again, there is a reason these foods are so cherished in traditional cuisine.

With some encouragement from AndreAnna (her broth-making method here), I also made long-simmered bone broth out of some knuckle, marrow, and meaty bones. Long-simmered broths are particularly rich sources of minerals like those listed here. I roasted the bones until browned, placed them in a pot covered with cool filtered water, added onion, carrot and celery, and simmered for almost 36 hours. I cooled the broth and removed the layer of fat that rose to the top. The result was simply lovely and a perfect base for french onion soup. Anything I didn’t use in the first week, I froze.

And because I’m a total Kook ball, I replaced my morning coffee with a cup of hot broth over the last 10 days. And I’m totally convinced. I’ve slept well, my skin is bright, my digestion excellent, and I just feel good about it. Those who incorporate fasting may be interested in the protein-preserving characteristics of sipping broth during the process. Broth making will become a Sunday ritual around here. I also love the idea of wasting nothing. Any bones, any little pieces of meat or cartilage still left behind after eating the “politically correct” parts, will be put to use in a nourishing broth. That’s part of what I love about this way of life!

It does take some getting-used-to – the taste of liver is not pleasant and the broth doesn’t taste quite like I expected. A quote from Catherine Czapp from Conserving the Digestive Fire helps me understand the total perversion of my taste buds after years of assaulting them with junk:

Unless you were born into a family in which traditional foodways were the norm, you may not have had the opportunity to learn early in life some of the healthy habits which naturally result in good digestion and vibrant health. This first of all includes having an early-learned sense of taste for authentic foods that can be your guiding star all your life amid the morass of sinister “foodlike” concoctions with which modern commerce floods our markets.

Without that early experience of authentic taste linked pleasurably to family mealtime rituals, one can fall prey to ersatz flavors and textures in contrivances that only bear the remotest resemblance to genuine food, if at all. This means, for example, that the mention of Pringles potato chips will induce salivation in some people, whereas the word “liverwurst” might bring forth a grimace, and “sweetbreads” utter incomprehension. Salivation is, after all, one of the first steps necessary for digestion when we sit down to a meal, and is of course linked to our sense of “this is good to eat.”

It’s so true that our dislike for these traditional foods is conditioned. It’s a product of bad memories – Cod Liver Oil forced upon a palate that was desperate for a sugary, acne-inducing treat, and taste buds bombarded with the offensively syrupy post-soccer-game Coke and Fruit Roll-Up. But I’ve heard stories of husbands who love the taste of liver, chicken feet and fish oil; and moms who give their toddlers bottles of homemade broth instead of apple juice. Why not?

Broth is Beautiful

Townsend Letter: Broth



26 Responses to “B-r-o-t-h”

  1. I too have considered switching coffee for broth in the morning. I have just been too lazy to make it and the commercially available broths tend to be super high in sodium.

    • And I’d imagine most aren’t prepared with the same quality of ingredients. “Chicken flavor?!” Let me know what you think when you make the switch…I still enjoy coffee but will sometimes get the self-experimentation urge and go wild with it. I’m a loose cannon like that.

  2. Whereas ‘m not sure I could drink it in a mug every day, bone broth really is magic. I use it for everything in place of water: sauteeing veggies, making mashed parsnips, cooking rice (I KNOW, rice if verboten but I like it sometimes OOKKAY?! Sheesh, get off my back!! 😉 )

    Thanks for the link love as usual.

  3. I love this post. Love it.
    First of all, I am a huge fan of the roast-a-chicken-use-carcass-for-broth stuff. I do it once a week. But since my chicken doesn’t come with feet, I haven’t ever tried it. Same goes for the beef bones. My weekly roasting/broth making/soup making ritual just got a little more interesting. Many many thanks!

  4. i totally agree! broth is so so good for you, and although liver is out of favour in the uk, it used to be a staple of our diet… and it’s really cheap too 🙂

    i’m thinking i need to experiment with the slightly more unusual cuts, as well as make some of that broth you have that looks so good!

  5. Check out Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions” (great book). Her recipes for stock includes a cool extra step for added goodness. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar with the cold water at the start and let the mix sit for 30 to 60 minutes before beginning to cook. The acid in the vinegar will help draw minerals out of the bone and into the stock (particularly calcium, potassium and magnesium).
    Also, I have found that some butchers are willing slice beef leg bones and such. That way you can get the flavor and goodness of the marrow into your stock.

    • Thanks Morgan! I actually do own that book and use it often 🙂 I probably should have put a little paragraph in about that…

      I have a very large collection of bones of all kinds that my dog is just dying to dig into. I’ve heard marrow is a delicious topping on steak!

  6. We must be having a vulcan mind meld (please don’t be too good for a Star Trek reference 🙂 lately as I’ve been all about the homemade broth. Three weeks in and yes,broth making has become a weekly ritual. Chicken feet and fish carcasses have yielded the best results to date.

    Thanks for the post, I’m sending it along to my mom (whose currently undergoing chem) as I’m trying to get her on the broth bandwagon.

    • Never too good for a Star Trek reference! Love it. I think broth could be really amazing for your mom. The minerals are incredibly easy for the body to assimilate. Sending her lots of good vibes!

  7. I should not read your blog hungary. My Dad calls broth “homemade penicillin” and I think it works just about as well (or better). Chicken broth with a little grated ginger is a tasty beverage & good for nausea.

  8. I’m a queasy Paleo. That picture of feet above just about tossed my lunch. Gonna have to ease into this very slowly.

    • Woops, sorry about that! No rush on any of the weird stuff, TR. I promise that doesn’t appear too often 🙂 I actually think easing into it with eggs, maybe some raw, grass-fed dairy (for the Vitamin K2) and fish is good to go if the trotters make you queasy!

  9. Ahh what a relief to hear another paleo person recognize the magic of the intersection of the paleo diet and the Weston Price diet! OMG I love you! I have been paleo for 6 years and about 4 years ago I discovered Weston Price. I have been making bone broths ever since and, while I don’t eat grains or dairy, I now eat organs and ultra high fat. Discovering that was a miracle for my health. I’m so glad you mention it!

    • I’m totally with you, Peggy! The infrastructure/activism of WAP is also amazing. I’m currently in a WAP-based program for Nutritional Therapy and they often cite Paleo resources, which is awesome! They totally “get it.” I like the idea of looking at “traditional” cultures closer to our “modern” times to realize that it wasn’t just cavemen who enjoyed perfect health! Any advice on incorporating more organs? I’m getting a whole slew of them from the GF cow we just ordered…

  10. A Russian friend of mine used to bake tongue but I didn’t like it. I wasn’t raised eating that stuff unfortunately so it really doesn’t go over well with my taste buds. What I mainly do is eat a few bites of raw liver every day or so while plugging my nose! haha. I also add organs (like the whole inside of a chicken) to my soups. In Colombia Sancocho (traditional soup) is made with organs and it’s amazing stuff. They usually don’t eat them, it just adds to the nutrition and flavor of the soup. Other than that, the deli at whole foods sometimes has a mean liver pate! Good luck with your organs. Let me know if you come up with any creative ideas.

  11. A Russian friend of mine used to bake tongue but I didn’t like it. I wasn’t raised eating that stuff unfortunately so it really doesn’t go over well with my taste buds. What I mainly do is eat a few bites of raw liver every day or so while plugging my nose! haha. I also add organs (like the whole inside of a chicken) to my soups. In Colombia Sancocho (traditional soup) is made with organs and it’s amazing stuff. They usually don’t eat them, it just adds to the nutrition and flavor of the soup. Other than that, the deli at whole foods sometimes has a mean liver pate! Good luck with your organs. Let me know if you come up with any creative ideas.

  12. Hi Cave Girl! I know I’m really late to this post, but I tried making broth this week and was hoping to ask a quick question, if you don’t mind. Everything went really well throughout the process–I used 3 pounds of beef bones (mostly marrow bones), veggie scraps, and some fresh onions, and I simmered for about 24 hours. Now that’s it’s been in the fridge for a few days, though, I’ve noticed that it hasn’t gelled at all. Does this mean I need to add a foot or two to get more gelatin, or was it possibly just because of the short cooking time? Also, is there a hierarchy as far as which kinds of bones are best to use, or can you really just throw any kind in there?

    Sorry to pester you with questions 🙂 Just discovered your blog recently, but I’ve already learned so much from you. Thanks!

    • No problem! (Great name, btw 🙂 You simply simmered too long to preserve the gelatin! You still have a great broth, the gelatin just broke down. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a factor of cooking time. The longer simmer extracts lots and lots of nutrients, while the short simmer (3 hours-ish) keeps the gelatin intact. I have been adding feet because they ARE a great source of gelatin, but you can still break that down with the long simmer.

      (It MAY still gel eventually – I did have a batch that took about 2 days to gel – but that may not be the case.)

      Here’s what I do. I make a huuuuuge pot. About 3 hours in, I’ll take about half out and strain/cool (that’s my gelatin-rich broth). I keep the rest going for a good overnight simmer to extract as many minerals as possible. You can combine the two! Just make sure you use vinegar to better extract the minerals.

      And you should ALWAYS pester me! I love it!

  13. Oh, perfect–thank you! Exactly the kind of info I was looking for 🙂 I’ll try this new method tonight…

  14. I love bone broth!! I thought I was the only weirdo who drank it in the morning. lol!! Paleo weirdos unite!

    Anyway, I’ve been making my bone broths using the WAPF recipe (in Broth is Beautiful) except I used lemon juice instead of vinegar. My new health practitioner wants me to try the GAPS diet and now I’m thoroughly confused. The GAPS broth recipe is vague, doesn’t say how many pounds of bones per batch. Also, it only cooks for a few hours. The GAPS intro stage 1 is just soups and broths so I will be making a TON of broth. It would be a lot easier to only simmer for a few hours. I could make a few batches in one day!

    Here’s my question: Is there any downside to not simmering the broth for 24 hrs (ie. WAPF broth) compared to simmering for a few hours (ie GAPS broth)?

    Last broth q- what do you freeze your broth in? I have some Mason jars but they’re not the wide mouthed ones and they say they’re not freezer safe!


    • I believe the GAPS broth preparation is meant to maintain the gelatin in the broth! I believe that a short simmer may extract fewer nutrients, but it also breaks down the gelatin. I tested this by doing one 2-hour batch and one 24-hour batch, and I found that the 3-hour batch was gelatinous upon cooling and the 24-hour batch remained liquid! I think it’s the gelatin that has the gut-healing properties.

      I pour the broth into ice cube trays and freeze, then empty the cubes into baggies and store in the freezer! I learned the hard way that mason jars aren’t freezer-safe 😉 ugh.

  15. With the WAPF broth, I would usually use 4 pounds of bones and about 4 qts of water. With the GAPS broth since you don’t cook it as long, do you still use the same amount of bones? Or can you just use 1-2 pounds. What is the ratio of bones to water? Sorry for all these questions! It’s hard to find answers about the GAPS broth!!


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