4 Things Every Expert Gets Wrong When Making Bone Broth

I get questions all the time on how to make a simple yet delicious bone broth. After years of making it daily, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

The worst part is that all the recipes and info you read online is mostly wrong. Blogs and news sites tend to post the same misinformation on how to make crappy bone broth or bone broth vinegar. 

I’m not sure where some of these mistakes started but I see most internet marketer food expert types peddle the same info on bone broth. It’s all wrong.

As a result I constantly get the same troubleshooting questions from friends and customers alike. 

top 4  bone broth mistakes infographic

This article will go through the 4 things every supposed expert and website gets wrong about making bone broth. Ready? Let’s go!

Mistake #1: Adding Apple Cider Vinegar

Everyone and their mother thinks you should be adding apple cider vinegar or some type of acid to your bone broth.

Acid is typically added at the beginning with the water.  Perhaps these armchair quarterbacks even recommend letting the bones sit with the acid in cold water for 30-60 minutes before turning on the heat.

The thought is that acid helps draw out nutrients from the bones even before you start simmering the bone broth.  

What these charlatans and bloggers haven’t done is lab tested as much bone broth as I have. We send our bone broth for lab testing twice a year for vitamin and nutrient analysis, amino acid profiles and nutrition facts.

I suspect this is where some of the misconceptions around nutrient content in bone broth comes from. Similar uninformed bloggers peddle the notion that bone broth is rich in calcium. After all, it is made of bones, isn't it?

This is completely wrong. Look on the back of any bone broth and you’ll see at most 5% of your daily calcium per serving.

We’ve directly compared two batches of our bone broth for nutrients and vitamins. The first batch is made with apple cider vinegar, while the second without.

Guess what? There was no significant difference in vitamin and mineral content. A few percentage points here and there with respect to iron, calcium and vitamin C.

Bone broth is not about the vitamins and minerals. It is about the gelatin, collagen, glucosamine and proteoglycans.

Next time you make bone broth, skip the apple cider vinegar. Your money is better spent elsewhere. If you do insist, you will end up with bone broth vinegar. 

Read our secret recipe to making bone broth.

Mistake #2: All about the HEAT!

4 things experts get wrong about bone broth

How hot should you cook your bone broth? Lots of websites encourage you to look for the perfect low simmer with the occasional bubble surfacing every couple seconds.

This is a recipe for weak broth with no gelatin and thus no nutritional benefit.

You should think of making bone broth as harvesting collagen and gelatin from bones and connective tissue. You need heat to harvest collage and gelatin in an efficient manner.

A low simmer will still work, but your cook time will be significantly longer. Perhaps two days at a lower temperature. Why wait when you can have it done quicker?

We recommend cooking your bone broth as hot as you are comfortable with without the broth spilling over your pot. If you have a thermometer, I’d recommend 98 degrees celsius.

This is a hard rolling simmer with lots of bubbles popping up. Don’t be afraid of letting it boil from time to time as well. Especially if you are home and able to watch over it every hour or so. If you go out or go to sleep, better to turn down slightly to 95 or 96 celsius.

With this temperature, you can make a collagen rich chicken bone broth in 10-12 hours and beef bone broth in 16-18 hours.

If you’re using a crock pot or slow cooker, then heat on high with the lid on. On the stove it is better to keep the lid off. Since you can achieve a higher temperature, the lid is not needed.

Moreover leaving the lid off lets the broth reduce naturally which results in more gelatinous and concentrated bone broth. If you notice it reduces too much, you can always add more water to the level you started with.

Mistake #3: Bones to Water Ratio

It takes a lot of bones to get that nice gel in your bone broth. This is where the big misconception around high prices for bone broth comes in.

Bones are expensive, and you need more than you’d think to make bone broth. This translates into why bone broth is not inexpensive these days, though we are working to change that.

So how many bones do you need for properly gelly bone broth? Think of your pot filled with bones as a cup filled with ice. You add water to the ice which fills in the nooks and crannies. The ice is the bones you’re using in this case.

For chicken bone broth we recommend 1.4:2 ratio of bones to water. If you have access the chicken feet to mix in with your chicken bones, then the ratio is closer to 1:2 bones to water (ex: 1 KG of bones per 2L of water).

For beef (or other ruminants) bone broth the ratio is closer to 1:2 bones to water, although this greatly depends on the type of beef bones you’re using.

Your mileage will vary depending on the bones you use, so best to experiment with a smaller batch before testing a larger one. There is nothing worse than finishing a lengthy simmer only to find you have average bone broth for your efforts.

Mistake #4: Poor Skimming Practises

Yes I’m calling you out for poor skimming practices. The first 1-2 hours of cooking bone broth is crucial as it sets the stage for the whole batch.

If you neglect skimming the fat, foam and impurities as they rise, you may end up with the dreaded cloudy broth.

This happens to the best of us. In our early days we had to pour out full batches of bone broth once or twice due to cloudy and murky broth. You know it when you see it. It looks like milk.

This is mainly due to not skimming properly, but also from stirring bone broth during the cook. Do not stir it, ever.

Take pride in skimming all the foamy bits every 20 minutes or so for the first 1 hour or however it takes to boil the broth for ten minutes or so. It is quite relaxing. After that you are good to go!

“Homemade broth, of course, is a whole food product. It’s a slow food, whole food, and real food that has been nourishing and healing people for tens of thousands of years.”

― Sally Fallon Morell, Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World

Bottom Line

There you have it, 4 mistakes many people make when getting started making bone broth. If you are considering purchasing bone broth then be sure to read our guide to buying bone broth. There are many shady companies out there.

Have you made bone broth? Leave a comment and let me know how it went!

42 comments

Hi Jay,

I don’t think it will help because the chicken bones are already so small. If you do try to break the bones, be careful of shards or anything when you strain it.

Connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions September 01, 2021

If using all leg bones with chicken, would cracking the bones before cooking add any benefit?

Jay September 01, 2021

Hi Diane,

Yes pork feet and bones makes for a delicious bone broth! You can follow our beef bone broth recipe to make a great pork bone broth.

You don’t see as many recipes because pork is simply not as popular as chicken and beef. And also, I suspect that the pork industry has more baggage historically with the type of people who are inclined to make bone broth in the west. I think this is a major reason why it is not as popular.

Connor at Bluebird Provisions July 23, 2021

Hi Dave,

Yes I would do exactly what you mentioned. Just remove the tallow at the end once it hardens / cools. Much easier to remove and dispose that way.

On that note: the compost partner we have does accept tallow / fat in the organic compost material. Soo 100% of it gets composted. Perhaps some municipalities don’t, but I am not sure.

It is also a joy to cook with. I cook with tallow and chicken schmaltz all the time.

Connor at Bluebird Provisions July 23, 2021

Is using pork such as pigs feet an okay thing to do? Why do I not see any bone broth recipes using pork bones?

Diane July 23, 2021

Hi Conor, so I think I’m right in picking up that: if one is not concerned about cloudiness, it’s ok to simply not bother skimming and instead, wait until the end and, after cooling, remove the layer of tallow from the top, job done? On that subject, how do you dispose of your fats (whether skimmed or removed at the end)? I am loathe to put down the sink, and have heard that they aren’t appropriate for compost…so do you dispose in the general waste for landfill? (I have no inclination to turn it into moisturising cream or candles or whatever!)

Dave July 23, 2021

Hi Dave,

That is a great question, and one I have seen come up in debates. From my perspective, there is no proof or validity to the fat cap on bone broth being rancid fat. I will say I’m not a fatty acid expert. So if you are concerned, you can always remove the fat to isolate the collagen protein.

Hope this helps!
connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions July 19, 2021

Hi M,

For skimming, the purpose is to remove the fat so that it minimizes the chance of the fat cooking or incorporating into the your broth during your simmer. If this happens, you end up with ‘cloudy’ bone broth. Cloudy bone broth will typically have more fat than clear, but otherwise, there are no issues with it.

I like to skim and remove the fat because our guests prefer a clear, high protein bone broth.

Connor at Bluebird Provisions July 19, 2021

At last, a site that talks about bone broth from a scientific perspective, I like it! Here’s a question that I suspect you will have a great answer to: what’s the lowdown on rancidity of fats in the context of a bone broth? Some say to take your first batch of broth at three hours to capture the fats prior to them becoming rancid, followed by a second boil for the collagen etc. That is, one product full of good fats and a second of pure collagen. Is there any scientific validity to that?

Dave July 19, 2021

What’s the purpose of skimming the top? What impurities would rise to the top? I’ve never skimmed my broth before.

M July 19, 2021

Hi Djane,

An instant pot is not necessarily better than stove top. It is simply a faster way to make bone broth compared to on a stove.

Connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions May 31, 2021

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for your comment. You sound like you are doing things the right way with bone broth!

Regarding extreme heats. I don’t think you there is a risk of denaturing protein or collagen at most cooking heats (ex: stove top of pressure cooker). I would not worry about that. We’ve never seen any protein or collagen lose nutrients due to extreme heat.

I don’t think there is any scientific validity to the claims on the interest about heat.

For skimming. I think that would be a great idea. But as you said, it’s a bit of a nuisance. You are best to keep things simple and don’t bother, especially if you don’t mind cloudy bone broth.

As for adding egg shells, I haven’t heard of anyone trying this. You should give it a go and please report back. I would be very curious to hear what it adds to the broth. In theory it should add some more collagen, which is great!

All the best
connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions May 31, 2021

What about making chicken bone broth in an instant pot better or worse then stovetop to get collagen

Djane May 31, 2021

Hi, Connor! Thank you so much for your really informative article, and I am definitely going to purchase some of your broth to sample! I’m sure it’s high quality and delicious, and I am looking forward to it!
I found you, btw, when searching for info on the dangers to collagen of high heat. A commenter here gave a helpful reminder on the issue of “temperature” w regard to slow or fast boiling (temp remains the same) but also pointed out that heat only increases when pressure increases.
And this brings me straight to my initial question: Is it true that a higher heat, such as one might get on the max or even low setting of a pressure cooker, risks “breaking down” (damaging, destroying?) the proteins in the collagen? I had heard this concern on a YouTube video regarding making bone broth, where it was advised to use only the low setting of an Instant Pot pressure cooker and cook for only 2 hours bcz of the risk to the quality of the collagen. Is there any validity to this?
(I also saw a comment here which claimed to get excellent broth from 5 hrs on a max setting of an IP, so perhaps there isn’t any reason for concern?)
Lastly, for those wondering how to skim when using a pressure cooker, I haven’t tried it yet but was thinking one could just start the broth on the stovetop, skim after 10-30 min at a boil, and then simply transfer the bones and broth to the cooker. This would mean a bit of “stirring,” of course, so maybe not ideal, but at least preferable to not skimming at all for those who care.
(Personally, I skim somewhat but don’t really care about cloudiness, since i assume some of it is healthy marrow anyway and i mostly use my broth for meaty keto soups. I make my broth using water in which I have first cooked 2 or 3 chicken legs n wings and 1 turkey neck, wing or leg. I then remove the meat for use later in soups, return the bones to the water, along w a beef marrow bone, some veggies n herbs, and simmer for 16-24 hrs, which yields a very gelatinous broth!)
Just thought of one last question: Do you think one could also boil egg shells with the bones, in order to take advantage of the collagen-rich shell lining, which is otherwise so hard to remove? And if so, I wonder if adding some acid wouldn’t help extract calcium from the shells, even if not from the bones! (I had been adding ACV until I read your article, but will now just add it before consuming the broth, to enjoy both the flavor (I do) AND it’s probiotic benefits, which heat destroys.
Anyway, thanks again, and thanks in advance for your reply.

Cheryl H May 31, 2021

Hi Viv,

There is no problem with cloudy broth. It tastes great and has all the nutritional benefits of bone broth.

As for blanching your bones, I’m not sure I agree that it removes impurities and results in cleaner broth. You can remove these impurities via a proper skim process. If you have the time then you can blanch, if not, don’t worry about it.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.
Connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions March 31, 2021

What is the problem with cloudy broth for home use? I fully understand why you would have to toss cloudy batches for your business, but I am unclear what the issue is for those of us making bone broth for drinking.

Also, I have seen some sites that recommend blanching beef bones before roasting them. “The purpose of blanching is to remove impurities, coagulated protein, and blood which ultimately results in a cleaner, better tasting broth.” What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks for any insights you can give.

Viv March 30, 2021

Hi Carmen,

I would recommend storing your bone broth in glass jars or containers. They are safe for about 5 days in the fridge, or 6 months in your freezer.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.
Connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions March 16, 2021

Thank you for this easy to digest to the point info. I m am going to be making my first batch of bone broth today! Quick question…. How do you store your broth and how long does it stay good? Thanks!

Carmen Contreras March 16, 2021

Hi Sheena,

Glad you found the article useful. You can certainly reuse the bones for second and even third batches of bone broth. However, you will not get as much out of the bones a second time. I’d recommend trying to get approximately half as much bone broth from your second batch, so use less water at the beginning.

The reason being that a lot of the connective tissue has already broken down during simmer #1. There is still some left for subsequent batches, but not a ton.

Beef bones in particular work great for a second batch. Chicken bones generally break down much quicker and would not work as well for second batches.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.
connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions February 07, 2021

Thanks for this article, very enlightening especially wrt the apple cider vinegar!

Can bones be reused to make bone broth and if so, how many times? I’d imagine different times for different types of animals bones?

Sheena February 07, 2021

Hi, Claire cole

Glad to hear you are making bone broth that is setting properly!

We did include collagen and amino acid testing in our experiments. They were the same with and without vinegar. I’m not sure how to make sense of your bone broth setting better with vinegar. If it works for you then keep your process the same.

Connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions January 31, 2021

Hi Pat,
Thanks for your thoughtful comment and information. In regard to your first point, I think we will have to agree to disagree and leave it at that. I’ve mentioned my evidence in the article, so writing anything more likely won’t change your mind.

On your second point, yes I agree that altitude and pressure has a large effect on boiling temperatures, heat and cook times. I guess my point is to illustrate than many home cooks are frightened to let their bone broth truly boil. Many guides and videos I read mention you can’t boil your bone broth. My aim is to dispell that myth.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments . I appreciate it!
connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions January 31, 2021

Hi Shelly H

Yes 5 hours at max on an instant pot will be enough to get a very thick and gelatinous bone broth. If fact, I have published an instant pot bone broth recipe here: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/instant-pot-bone-broth-recipe

Looks like you are already doing a great job with bone broth, so keep it up!
connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions January 31, 2021

Great blog post! I make my bone broth regularly using my Instantpot MAX which I bought specifically for making bone broth (I cannot sleep when I smell soup!). I do 5 hours on MAX and get a nice gelatinous broth and my bones comes out very soft. I’m curious as to your opinion if that would be long enough to get all the goodness out for the health benefits?

Shelly H. January 31, 2021

I don’t know much about making bone broth. I’ve only made it once and it was a small batch. But I question one or two of your statements. One being that vinegar is not helpful. I would think that the collagen and calcium in the bones is not significantly affected by adding an acid, as in vinegar. The calcium in the bones is leeched out better with the acid in the water. Same goes for the hyaline cartilage found on the ends of some bones.
With regards to the temperature of the water that the bones are boiled in. Water at sea level boils at 212 F. and turning up the heat under the pot just makes the water boil harder, NOT HOTTER! So the slower boil or simmer as apposed to a hard or rolling boil makes no difference to “harvesting collagen and gelatin”. The only change achieved at a slower boil is less water evaporates or boils away over a set period of time. (For example, overnight.) If you want water to “boil” hotter, than increasing the amount of pressure it’s under will accomplish that, just as decreasing the amount of pressure it’s under, as at higher altitudes will make the water boil at a lower temperature. (Any cook will tell you that.)

Pat in Seattle January 31, 2021

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