Broth may never replace that morning cup of joe, but these healing elixirs are definitely popping up on menus around town. Whether bone-based stocks that are simmered for hours to extract maximum nutrients or vegan mixtures of tea and herbs, people are sipping them like lattes, and it’s really no big secret why.
Bone up on health
“Bone broths are the newest, oldest health food around,” says Medea Galligan, a board-certified holistic health coach and co-owner of Medea’s Espresso and Juice Bar in Arden.
Medea and husband Dan Galligan opened their business in March of last year, and they’ve recently doubled their bone broth capacity.
“We just purchased steam-jacketed kettles that provide more even cooking at higher volumes,” Dan explains, adding, “Our goal is to have a constant supply.”
Medea’s sells about 25 gallons of bone broth a week; unlike store-bought broths, these healing concoctions include valuable bone-building minerals, along with large amounts of collagen, which strengthens bones and helps rebuild tendons, joints and ligaments. The broths are also believed by many to help inhibit immune system overactivity, reduce inflammation and promote healthy digestion.
Commercial broths often contain high levels of sodium and hydrogenated vegetable oils that are absent in the Galligans’ products. At Medea’s, the bones (they make both beef and poultry varieties) are sourced from ethically raised animals, meaning they’re grass-fed and grass-finished or pastured and free-range, and are antibiotic- and hormone-free.
The broths are made by simmering bones in filtered water for anywhere from 12 to 72 hours. Organic vegetables and herbs are added to boost both flavor and nutritional value. The result is an incredibly rich liquid containing numerous antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Local wellness coordinator Allison Duncan says she suffers from an autoimmune disorder, which causes joint inflammation so severe that, at times, she’s incapacitated. Her doctor had discussed the benefits of bone broth with her, but time was an issue, and she was reluctant to try it.
“I told him it wasn’t realistic for me to make it at home while juggling work and a busy schedule, so he sent me to Medea’s,” Duncan explains. “After cutting out sugar and grains from my diet and having two cups of bone broth a day for one week, it was the first time I’ve been able to get over an episode without resorting to prescription drugs.”
Meanwhile, Medea has just added vegan broths to its repertoire, as well as a drop-spot delivery program enabling customers to pick up their favorite items at various partner locations around town. The broths cost $7.25 for a 16-ounce container, fresh or frozen.
It starts with tea
Zack and Jenni Bier, who own Elements Real Food in Asheville, started making broths a few years back when they were doing raw juice cleansing. Today, they serve tea-based, all-vegan broths.
And while Jenni says the possibilities are endless, popular varieties include chaga tea with chickpea miso, toasted sesame oil and ginger juice; matcha tea with lemongrass, carrot juice, kefir lime leaf and turmeric juice; and “earth tea” in a carrot, onion, mushroom, celery and lemon broth with vitamineral greens.
Chaga tea takes six to eight hours to make. Matcha, the quickest to prepare, is infused with hot water before adding the other ingredients. The earth tea is infused in a vegetable broth that takes three to six hours to make (the longer the better); the vitamineral greens are added to order.
“Vegan broths are soothing, detoxifying and nourishing,” says Jenni. “And some of the ingredients have superior immune-boosting qualities.”
Chaga, for example, is a medicinal fungus that grows on birch trees and is about twice as high in antioxidants as the acai berry.
“Chaga is an incredible immune booster, and when paired up with ginger and a soy-free chickpea miso that’s packed with easily digestible vitamins, minerals and protein, you’ve got yourself a superfood broth that’s ready to take on the cold and flu season,” she explains.
All the sipping broths at Elements cost $3.50 for a 12-ounce cup.
Not just for sipping
Real Food Truck owner Brad Jordan started serving bone broth because of its health benefits. “It’s extremely rich in minerals that most Americans don’t get enough of. Plus, it’s a warm, comforting beverage on a cold day,” he notes.
This winter, he’ll be selling mainly chicken broth but also a bit of beef. The beef bones come from Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s grass-fed, pasture-raised, non-GMO-certified cows; the pasture-raised poultry is from Happy Hens and Highlands Farm. The price is $5 a pint, $8 a quart.
Jordan, whose truck can often be found parked at Highland Brewing Co., Twin Leaf Brewery, The Brew Pump and other locations around Asheville, also uses his broths in some recipes, taking a cue from Auguste Escoffier, the godfather of French cooking, who preached: “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” Real Food’s Brad’s Burger is topped with demi-glace, a bone broth that’s been reduced to a syrupy sauce. Jordan also uses bone broth in his pot roast.
And while he is fairly new to Asheville’s food scene, he says folks have raved about his bone broth so far, noting, “One guy said it was just like his grandma used to make.”