Kitchen Witch Bone Broth brews deep nourishment
Photography by Tchell DePaepe and Clayton Ryon
Three years ago, Rhiannon Henry cooked up an auspicious pot of bone broth as a birthday gift for a friend who was ill. One batch led to another, and soon she had a waiting list of friends who wanted in on the nutritious drink.
From there, Henry’s broth brewing took on a life of its own, growing into a business, Kitchen Witch Bone Broth. After it appeared in an article authored by this writer in Good Times’ weekly last year, thirst for the brew began to outstrip Henry and her kitchen’s capacity. Fortunately, the story also prompted two local women, Missy Woolstenhulme, a television producer and event planner, and Magali Brecke, a chef and doula, to contact Henry, who was formerly an elite athlete, and offer to help take Kitchen Witch to the next level.
Kitchen Witch is tapping into a primal hunger that is rumbling all over the country. Suddenly, bone broth—a long-simmered, concentrated stock typically made with meat as well as bones—is being sipped from coffee cups on the streets of New York City and hailed as the next super food by media outlets including TIME, Forbes, The New York Times and Good Morning America. Here in the Monterey Bay region, it’s also being offered by Monterey’s Central Coast Juicery and Pacific Grove’s Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar. (More on both later.)
“It may be trendy, but it’s been around for eons,” says Henry, who studies traditional Chinese medicine at Five Branches University in Santa Cruz. “And thank goodness we’re going back to this older wisdom. I think it’s in such high demand right now because our culture is in a place of needing that deep nourishment.”
Now, with Woolstenhulme directing logistics, Brecke, the kitchen, and Henry, the personal relations, as well as a new home at El Pájaro Community Development Corp.’s commercial kitchen incubator in Watsonville, Kitchen Witch’s production has spiked from 15 32-ounce jars of small-batch, handmade bone broth every two weeks to more than 200.
Each batch stews for 24 hours to get the most nutrients out of its components, which include pastured beef bones from Marin Sun Farms, pastured chicken and bones from Fogline Farm, fish heads and bones from Real Good Fish (the Community Supported Fisheries program formerly known as Local Catch Monterey Bay) and organic produce from Watsonville Coast Produce. The latter is used for Kitchen Witch’s “Almost Veggie” flavor—a hearty vegetable broth that’s finished with some unflavored beef gelatin.
“It’s easy to make bone broth, but it’s not easy to make true, true bone broth that gels in a jar and that’s made with red marrow, not just white marrow, and with tendons, not just joints,” says Brecke, who develops the company’s recipes.
“And you can’t make broth at home with our bones,” adds Woolstenhulme. “If you go to the store, they’ll likely just have femur bones. For our beef broth we’re using meaty bones—neck and rib bones—for red marrow, gelatinous bones like knuckle bones, which have the white marrow, and tendons and beef feet, which are huge for the gelatin and collagen content.”
Among its health benefits, the gelatin in bone broth coats, soothes and heals the gut lining, which can be powerfully effective for those with leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders. Bone broth is also said to reduce inflammation and strengthen tendons, ligaments and muscles and nourish pregnant women and new mothers.
“Digestive problems and joint problems, in particular, can be successfully addressed using bone broth,” writes osteopathic physician and New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Joseph Mercola, on his website, www.mercola.com. “But … bone broth is a foundational component of a healing diet regardless of what ails you.”
Bone broth has been popularized by niche health regimens such as CrossFit and the paleo diet, but it has also gone mainstream, with health-minded eaters of all stripes embracing it.
Brecke sees bone broth’s popularity as the latest iteration of the return to healthful traditional foods, like raw dairy and fermented vegetables. And not only is the rise of bone broth bringing us back to the nourishing ways of our ancestors, but it is also closing the circle on waste. “We’re taking this previously discarded matter [bones] and turning it into the most nutrient-dense food that you can put in your body,” says Henry, adding that Kitchen Witch will soon begin making pet food and garden meal with its spent bones.
As of press time, Kitchen Witch was selling its broth online at a rate of $13.50 (Almost Veggie), $14.50 (Fish), $16 (Chicken) and $18 (Beef ) per 32-ounce jar for customer pickup from locations in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and San Jose.
The fledgeling company was also distributing its fish broth throughout the region through Real Good Fish and seeking its own pickup locations in Monterey County. Soon, it aims to offer its broth in stores locally and around the country.
Bone broth makers are also popping up in other parts of the Monterey Bay region.
Shiho Fukushima, a food critic for Monterey County Weekly and gluten-free Web personality at www.shihointhecity.com, makes broths for Central Coast Juicery, which sells them for $5 per 10-ounce cup at the Old Monterey Marketplace Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays.
Fukushima, who was turned on to broth as a remedy for her leaky gut syndrome, was devising a company name and recipes at the time of this writing. (Updates will be posted to www.facebook.com/bonebroth- in-the-831.)
In Pacific Grove, Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar chef Jeffrey Weiss (winner of EMB’s 2015 Best Chef/Restaurant Local Hero Award, see p. 12), features bone broth—usually a rich chicken variety—on his menu.
“In the mountain areas of Spain, you walk down the street, and out front of the bars there’s normally a sign that says ¡hay caldo!” he explains. “What that means is ‘there is broth today.’” His broth, which appears on the menu as (what else?) ¡hay caldo!, is available for takeout and goes for $10 a quart.
Back in Santa Cruz County, the women at Kitchen Witch will continue to ride the wave they’ve caught, making sure to imbue each jar with as much healing energy as possible.
“When we’re cooking, the love and healing intention that we want to put into this broth comes out of us and into the jars,” says Henry. “All of the intentions for the small farms, for the grass-fed beef, for the healing of the earth, all of the intentions for the healing of our clients and for the success of this business—it all goes into the jar. When we hand it over, we know that we’re handing somebody a very powerful substance. And we just want to be able to keep doing that.”
Kitchen Witch Bone Broth
Elizabeth Limbach is an award-winning journalist living in Santa Cruz, California. In this fruitful region and beyond, she finds the intersections of food, ag, health and the environment to be the most intriguing realms to write about. A bookworm and vegan foodie, the San Diego native has lived in Santa Cruz for a decade, relishing its redwood forests, fresh produce, delicious wines, and sparkling sea.