When I set out to create a blog, my vision was a post on how make bone broth as a cornerstone of the website. Well, here I am over a year after my first post and I’m finally getting to it. (It feels good that this is my first real post since having my daughter 6 weeks ago). What’s been holding me back? Bone broth is actually really easy to make, but there are so many variables. However, the biggest reason for not posting a recipe - I NEVER EVER measure or weigh anything when I’m making broth. So this is much more of a formula than a recipe.
Bone broth is an art, it’s not black and white. So the fact that I never measure anything is partly because I’ve been making it for almost 10 years and have confidence with it. More important though than the confidence, is the understanding that it is going to be different every time I make it. There really isn’t a right or a wrong, and sometimes it will get super gelatinous and other times it just won’t. Sometimes it will be dark, sometimes light. No matter what, it’s good!
Broth has become very trendy in recent years, however it’s nothing new. Our grandparents and great grandparents (and many generations before) wouldn’t dare throw away bones or carcasses of any kind. For reasons both financial and flavor, broth is where it’s at. It’s incredibly nutrient dense - an old Jewish proverb indicates it can resurrect the dead. Times when I’ve been really sick - broth has pure magical powers. I swear by it and always have some in my freezer.
Bone Broth vs. Meat Stock - A quick note on the difference here, as you may have heard both of Meat Stock and Bone Broth.
Meat Stock is cooked for a very short period of time (1-3 hours) and is primarily a piece of meat with some bone on it (a chicken thigh or a piece of steak with a bone in it). This stock is much less potent, and therefore easier on the bellies of young ones (Meat Stock was the first food we fed to Finn) and on those with digestive issues, needing to start with mild stock containing very little gelatin.
Bone Broth is what we have here! Lots of bones and joints, veggies and long cooking times. It is much higher in gelatin, and therefore collagen, and much more potent.
FAQs, Tips and Tricks on making broth from over the years:
What is bone broth?
The liquid gold (yes, it’s as good as gold!) that comes from simmering bones, vegetables, herbs and water for 24-36 hours.
Why should I make bone broth? Many reasons!
To use the whole animal. Buying a whole pastured chicken? That baby wasn’t cheap! Save those bones and make bone broth.
Soups and stews are a super healthy, make ahead food for the cooler months. Most people are using store bought broth these days which 95% of the time contains “natural chicken flavor” - who the heck knows what that is? - instead of real bones.
It’s cheaper than store bought broth.
It contains gelatin which is incredibly healing to the gut, and therefore really good for the immune system. The collagen in gelatin is also great for the skin, hair and nails.
It’s a great source of vitamins and minerals.
It tastes incredible! There is no comparison to store bought carton broth.
How do I know if my broth contains gelatin?
When you transfer your cooked broth to the fridge, wait about 10 hours and take a peek at it to see if it looks like jello! If it does, you’ve got a very gelatinous broth! Don’t worry, you won’t be eating or bone jello, it turns to liquid once it hits heat. It’s always a race to the fridge to see if our broth gelled or not! You could call us lame....or super cool.
What if I’m not ready to make broth after I roast my chicken?
Adam says this is my best trick yet! Whether you have bones left over from wings, drum sticks, or a whole chicken carcass - SAVE YOUR BONES! Never throw them away. Simply save them in a gallon size ziplock bag in the freezer. Once we have a full bag, that is usually when we make a batch of broth...and therein lays the reason we don’t ever weight or measure the bones.
My broth won’t gel.
Likely you have too much water, not enough bones, or it was too hot while cooking. But, a nearly foolproof way to get a gelatinous broth? Add a few chicken feet to chicken broth, and a knuckle bone or two to beef broth.
Where should I get my bones?
If you’re buying organic/pastured/good quality meat that comes with bones, never throw those away - ever! Use the ziplock bag trick mentioned above. If you’re not cooking meat that comes with bones (whole chickens) find a local farm that sells bones! Or, your local Whole Foods, farmers market or health food store may sell them as well. If you have no local options, a great source online is US Wellness Meats.
How should I store it?
We store ours in a variety of ways. Primarily we freeze it in mason jars (with 2 inches at the top for expansion), ice cube trays and zip lock bags. I always let it cool completely first, especially if we’re going to freeze in ziplock bags. So once you strain and let it completely cool, then you can freeze within 7 days.
Beef vs. chicken broth?
The difference simply is the kind of bones you use...and therefore the flavor of the broth afterwards. We primarily make chicken broth because the bones are easier to come by, but I do love me some good beef broth. Lately we’ve been storing all bones in one bag and so we’re having a variety of chicken, beef and pork broth and it’s quite good!
What to do with the bones afterwards?
You can run the bones through another batch if you’d like, especially if you have used feet or a knuckle bone. Add fresh veggies if you do this and follow the directions in the recipe. Otherwise, you can throw them away. Unfortunately most compost bins/systems don’t take meat or bones. (I have heard people grind it all up for their pets - look into some other uses if you’d like).
How long will it last?
Bone broth will last 5-7 days in the fridge, and many months in the freezer. If you’re bordering on a week in the fridge but really want to make soups, bring it to a rolling boil for a few minutes and you’ll kill any potential bacteria that grew.
So, I will share a recipe for those who simply need one to cook anything (that’s not me but when making something for the first time it’s important!). Just know that if you have 5 lbs of bones and not 4, and only 2 carrots and not 3 - your broth will still be great!
Bone Broth (for both the InstantPot and Stove Top)
High quality chicken or beef bones, ideally enough to fill your pot ⅔ of the way
2 Onions, quartered (no need to peel the skin off)
3 Carrots, rough chop (only 2-4 pieces)
3 ribs of celery, rough chop (2-4 pieces)
2-3 Bay Leaves
A few Peppercorns
Chicken feet, optional
Preparation - Instant Pot:
Place all ingredients in the pot - bones, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, optional feet in the pot. Fill with water just to cover the bones and vegetables (remember if there is too much water your broth may not gel).
Place the lid to the InstantPot on and turn the dial to SEAL.
Select the manual/high setting and arrow to 120 minutes.
Let the broth ”naturally release” which usually takes about 20 minutes. Be sure to release the dial to VENTING before opening the lid.
Let the broth cool a bit if you have time, and strain. We have finally mastered our system - we have a stainless steel fine mesh sieve that we have on top of a large stainless steel pot. We pour through the sieve and then use a wide funnel to get the broth into large 2 quart size mason jars for storing in the fridge.
Preparation - Stove Top:
Place all ingredients in the stock pot - bones, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, optional feet.. Fill with water just to cover the bones and vegetables (remember if there is too much water your broth may not gel).
Turn the heat on high. Once the broth comes to a boil, skim the scum that bubbles and rises to the top (I use a wide mesh spoon). Then, turn down to low.*You want slow occasional bubbles to occur, much less than a simmer but more than flat. This is important, you’ll find the right temp!
Let the broth cook for at least 24 hours. If the water significantly reduces, add a bit to the pot.
Once it’s done, let the broth cool a bit if you have time, and strain. We have finally mastered our system - we have a stainless steel fine mesh sieve that we have on top of a large stainless steel pot. We pour through the sieve and then use a wide funnel to get the broth into large 2 quart size mason jars for storing in the fridge.
We discard the fat that rises to the top and hardens once in the fridge. I’m sure there is a use, and it’s a little wasteful, but right now we don’t do anything with it.
We use the majority of our broth as a base for our soups, but it’s also really yummy to just heat it on the stove, add some salt and drink in a mug on a chilly morning. Check out my most popular recipe, Egg Broth Soup - my most favorite, most nourishing breakfast!
If time allows, and if you’re using raw bones (ones that have never been cooked), roast bones at 400 degrees for 30 mins. This really improves the flavor and the depth of the broth!