Stir It Up: Bone Broth From the Earth
As fire-heated basalt rocks are placed in a cedar bentwood box containing water, the air is filled with dramatic hissing sounds. Stones—considered the bones of the Earth—are added one at a time, causing the water temperature to rise and eventually boil.
Ingredients are added quickly. Perhaps potatoes, clams, and some wild onions to make ancient clam chowder. Perhaps camas bulbs, nettles, and venison for a deep-rooted stew. Or maybe wild berries and ground hazelnuts for a lively porridge. Then, a perfectly fitted lid is placed on top of the box. Nearly an hour later, a hot and savory soup is ready for your sensory pleasure.
This is how Coast Salish Ancestors, my relations, have prepared rich soups since the beginning of time. We still practice this alchemy today. There are no substitutions for the flavors imparted to the vegetables and broth boiled in a cedar bentwood box. It is a mineral flavor with notes of cedar and ash that cannot be replicated on the stove.
Hearty, well-balanced soups warm us up and boost our vitality. They can also draw out beautiful memories and connect us to our human senses. When someone is feeling unwell or even chilled, it is common practice in countless cultures to offer a bowl of brothy chicken soup, congee, or potages of all kinds.
The ancient recipes for soups and broths span food heritage throughout the planet and our collective history. Some broth pots have been simmering for decades, and their contents can be complex or quite simple. You put bones, vegetables, herbs, and spices in a vessel, cover with water, and simmer over a heat source for some time.
Deconstruct these recipes, and you will find the building blocks of our immunity, rich in minerals, collagen, and proteins. Some say bone broths are the oldest and most potent medicinal beverage. They are filling, rich, complex, and soul-satisfying, and they can address inflammation, speed wound healing, combat fatigue, promote a healthy gut, and build immunity. These incredible liquids contain crucial minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which can be anti-arthritic, anti-diabetic, and great for nourishing the body, and can aid in treating conditions like anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the flu.
Boiling bones to prepare broths is perhaps the most outstanding example of how our ancestors honored the life of wild game and seafood by using every part of their bodies. Water, the universal solvent, can instantly deliver these animals’ nourishment to your cells and spirit. Make your own broth this season to keep you warm and healthy!
Basic Bone Broth Recipe
Bones: From poultry, fish, shellfish, wild game, or beef. This could include raw bones (preferably the spine and femurs), animal carcasses, shellfish shells, or whole fish.
Cold water: Enough to cover the bones
Vinegar: A splash, or 2 tablespoons per quart of water
Vegetables: Onions, garlic, carrots, and celery are great additions
Herbs: Bay leaf, peppercorns, and parsley add great flavor
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot, ensuring everything is completely submerged under water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for up to 12 hours. Strain the bones and remnants out of stock using a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Use your prepared broth as a base for soups or gravy or as a cooking liquid in place of water. You can also warm it up and drink it like tea. Broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.