by Eric Ginsburg
Bone broth might be the symbol of hipsterdom in Brooklyn, but at Winstead Farm, it’s a sign of practicality.
Gwen Roach and her husband Graham implemented new eating habits when she started dealing with some health issues a few years ago. The process led them to farmers markets and away from processed foods, and when the couple moved to Winston-Salem from the Houston suburbs, they took another jump: They started a farm.
The 11-acre family farm, where they live with their children, Ephraim and Emily, primarily sustains itself by raising meat chickens. With about 900 sold last year and a huge jump to about 1,700 for 2015, it’s not surprising that the Roach family has an excess of chicken backbones, necks, feet and wingtips.
And that’s where the bone broth comes in.
There’s nothing new about the concept of dropping bones in a broth and letting it simmer, but in the pursuit of convenience, that cross-cultural cooking practice apparently fell out of favor. It sounds easy enough, but when Gwen spells out the process for people, folks will often ask if they can just buy her finished product.
And now they can.
Gwen Roach sold her first batch of Caldero Nourishing Bone Broth on Nov. 14, but there’s already a pool of people in Winston-Salem who turn to her homecooking for health and flavor. Her broth, which comes in 32-ounce containers, doesn’t contain MSG or high sodium levels like a store-bought alternative, she said.
There’s usually a bone broth going in the Roach family kitchen at their home on the farm, not far from Winston-Salem city limits. On a recent Friday, Gwen Roach stood over a deep pot filled with turkey bones from a Friendsgiving celebration accompanied by carrots and onions. She generally uses the broths as a base for soup, but this time she strained the mix and poured the flavorful concoction into coffee mugs, to be sipped like hot tea.
The most common Caldero bone broth consists of a simple recipe — chicken bones, vegetables and apple cider vinegar — brought to a boil, skimmed and left to simmer for about 24 hours, Roach said. Beef or lamb would take even longer, she added.
Ephraim — who is inclined to eagerly show off his Legos, plastic basketball hoop in the driveway or the family donkey to strangers — interrupted his parents’ story about bringing chickens to a meat processor to proclaim his joy when they stop for doughnuts along the way. But though it isn’t surprising that he may not buy into the healthy eating principles of his parents, Ephraim still loudly proclaimed his enthusiasm for his mom’s latest entrepreneurial foray.
“Great job, mom!” he said, almost theatrically after sipping some of the Friendsgiving broth. “Best bone broth ever!”
Winstead Farm, a name that intentionally sounds like “Winston” and “homestead” combined, has been selling meat at the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem for several years, but just recently spun off Caldero bone broth for sale at the market, Let It Grow Produce on Country Club Road and eventually online and at more businesses. Roach uses a commercial kitchen up in King to prepare the broth, she said.
The transition to running a farm hasn’t been an easy one; Gwen has run a kiosk at the mall during the holidays to bring in some extra income, and Graham is considering the pros and cons of pursuing an unrelated part-time job. In that environment in particular, finding a way to utilize the leftover chicken parts and turn a habit into an enterprise makes sense.
Plus, it tastes delicious. The difference between what Roach cooks up and the soups I’m used to — be it in a restaurant or prepared at home from pre-made stocks — is astounding. It’s enough to make you wonder why we ever allowed ourselves to accept substitutes for this long-standing and rich tradition.
But now with Roach’s help, we can put the “grandma love process” as she calls it back into our soups, and just in time for winter.
Find Winstead Farm (4235 Thomasville Road, W-S) on Facebook or buy Caldero Nourishing Bone Broth at Let It Grow Produce (4825 Country Club Road, W-S).