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.
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.
Read the definitive list of bone broth brands you can trust in 2023.
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.
It is important to put things in context in terms of nutritional benefits to you. While 10 mg vs 12 mg is a 20% increase, it amounts to nothing in your daily intake of calcium.
Let me explain why. The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1000 mg.
10 mg serving represents 0.5% of your recommended daily intake.
12 mg serving represents 0.6%
If you want to save time and money in your homemade broth, I would argue it is a waste to use ACV to get an extra 0.1% of your daily intake.
But if you still prefer using it, then go for it.
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!
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.
If you just want to try one and not obsess over making the best one, then read my guide on where to buy bone broth.
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
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!
you can make delicious bone broth in a pressure cooker. Checkout this recipe: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/instant-pot-bone-broth-recipe
Ok guys firstly I am Jewish and for those who makes there broth a good time is right before Shabbat starts and let it cook on level LOW in the crock pot I guess it could be HIGH to draw out the collagen. I added celery carrots onions rosemary and garlic. Three packs of chicken bones KOSHER at 2.50 each . And filled the water level 2" to 3" above the whole thing. Ok the result was a weak watery broth. Next time I will less water as suggested. But the next day I read an article that you should blend the remainder of the mix bones and vegetables and the broth and place in those soup jars. So I reheated the mix and WOW what a difference. Not sure exactly if it’s safe to drink I will find out later today ie toilet run ;). Cheers
I’m new to making bone broth. My brother uses his instant pot (cook at high pressure for 3 hours). Since it is in a pressure cooker, I did not do any skimming. Will pressure cooking like this produce a good bone broth? Thanks!
Thanksgiving time: My mother always took the roaster with gravy and dressing scraps and dumped all the bones and carcass into it. She added onions and celery. added water to almost cover bones and let it simmer all night. after cooling the next day we used a big slotted scoop to remove big stuff. Big pieces meat were saved for the soup. We then used a strainer to remove small bits of bone and other solids. She would Pour it into quart jars, leaving head room, and freeze. scraps of meat were added to the jars also.. We continue the tradition. Experimenting I have found I can make a tasty broth by saving the bones from roasted or grilled chicken and when I have enough i boil it as with the turkey. Have a pot of beef scraps and bone simmering now. Not so easy to get beef with bone.
Hi Luke, I am not familiar with insulted cooking. How much heat is there in this method?
Regarding pressure cookers, they work great. You can see my recipe here: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/instant-pot-bone-broth-recipe
There is nothing wrong with cloudy broth from a taste or nutrient perspective. In Korea and Japan, they exclusively prefer cloudy broths. I would drink it!
As fort he collage without the gel, it just means you have less protein and collagen per cup of broth.
If yours does not gel at all, you most likely have 2-5 g of collagen protein per cup. With a little bit of gel closer to 5-7 g. And a full gel you will have 8+ grams per cup.
hope this helps.
Hi, thanks for the write-up
I am 38 and just following shoulder surgery – turns out I got a lot of osteoarthritis going on in there too! – I’ve been looking into sources of collagen type 2 to slow down the need for a new shoulder.
So I’m planning to make chicken bone broth. I can get cheap bones, but it seems to be very energy-intensive cooking.
I was wondering about your view of insulated cooking ie, heat and boil for 30 mins then leave in a heavily insulated container for 24 hours…. then maybe repeat.
If I was to try insulated cooking how would I test to see if I am indeed harvesting the collagen?
Also how quickly would it be possible to achieve the same results as you with a pressure cooker on the stove top set to high?
Any help would be greatly appreciated
Thanks for the article, Connor!
I had a couple of questions please.
I’ve read all over that I shouldn’t want cloudy broth – from a health-only perspective (taste doesn’t bother me) is cloudy ‘bad’ or still fine to drink?
Secondly, everyone keeps saying it should turn to gel. If too much water is added this won’t happen but will the collagen still be extracted the same either way? I don’t want to eat gel, mine tastes and looks like soup – am I still getting collagen at the same level, albeit not as concentrated?
To the bluebirdprovisions.co administrator, Your posts are always well-referenced and credible.
Yes this is how I do it when i make it at home as well. The bonus of the fat cap that forms as it cools is preservation.
It will keep longer in the fridge if you do not remove the fat cap.
Hi Kathleen, yes you can absolutely use it!
In your case you do not need to roast them a second time.
After simmering my bone broth for 24 hours in a slow cooker, I refrigerate it overnight and remove the layer of fat that forms on the surface. The beef fat is very solid and easily lifted off. The chicken fat is a little softer but still easily removed. There’s always a lot of fat. Does anyone else do this?
u mention ACV not impacting the calcium etc, but what about the protein and gelatin levels in the broth! that is the whole point of the broth.
So does it affect?
Can you use a prosciutto bone for bone broth?
I often make bone broth using chicken carcasses and drumsticks. My question: if the chicken and drumsticks have been roasted with the meat on to consume for a meal, do I need to roast them again after the meat is removed? I’m assuming the blanching and roasting directions apply to raw bones.
I think in your case you had the temperature on too low so that the fat did not rise to the surface. The fat, form and oil should always be on the surface, or else it is not hot enough.
hope this helps and let me know how it goes.
Hi Sherry, yes I am familiar with what you are referring to. I’ve written at length about it in this article: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/is-bone-broth-bad-for-you
There are a few recommendations in there you can try. But mainly you need to cut your consumption to 1/8th of what you tried before or else it might not be a fit for you.
please let me know how it goes.
Hi Megan, thanks for sharing you info!
In my experience in troubleshooting, it is almost always a bones to water ratio issue when it comes to weak broth.
Consider waiting until you have 3-4 chicken carcasses or supplement a carcass with lots of chicken feet, wings and drumsticks. This should work.
If you are using a slow cooker, I would recommend it on high.
hope this helps and let me know how it goes!
I made bone broth for the first time a couple days ago. Followed the advice on this page to skim during the first two hours, except there was not much to skim! I did do this in a slow cooker and had it on low for basically half the night (I’m an insomniac). It still ended up very cloudy even though there were no fat or meat bits to take off. Would you know what I did wrong?
I am wondering if cooking on high heat for long period if time is the ONLY way to get what you called “beneficial” healing broth. I ask because I have a strong sensitivity to anything thays starts with “gluta…”
Now this could be different, but I bought a processed bone broth powder from Dr. Josh Axe. I used half the recommended serving size. It caused a very negative neurological response. I have a friend that it happens to as well. Glutamine turns into Glutamate in the body. A known neurotoxin for a lit 8f people. So it was recommended to cook low (heat) and less hours when making homemade. High heat for longer periods creates the glutamine release. But I NEED the benefits. Thoughts?
Hi there. Thank you for these tips. I kept wondering why I’d seen so many broths requiring ACV when I hadn’t added it before, though I hadn’t made my own bone broth in awhile and also wondered if I had forgotten that ingredient and if it had anything to do with why my broth turned like a thin, grey-green brown instead of the nice thick golden brown I normally achieve. Would you please help me troubleshoot?
I also used an Instant Pot on Pressure Cook (2 hrs on high), though I used to use a slow cooker on low (about 8 hrs), and wonder if that could be the issue. The other thing I did different was add fresh herbs (thyme & sage) in addition to the vegetables (onion, carrot, celery) l usually use, so maybe the herbs broke down too much? My other guess is that I didn’t have enough bones. I usually freeze a couple-few chicken carcasses to get enough or use a turkey one, but this time I only had the carcass and not even all the bones of one 5 lb chicken.
I’d appreciate any advice you could give. My own thought is to go back to Sally Fallon & do some rereading. ;)
That is great that you like cloudy broth with all the fat. By all means don’t listen to my advice then.
The olive oil will not have any effect on the bone broth. IT should add a bit of nice flavor.
Regarding the chicken, I am assuming it was 5 lb with all the meat on it? Now it is likely substantially less with the meat removed. Maybe 2 lbs or so.
This might not be enough to get be worth your effort. You can make a good bone broth with it, but you won’t get a lot of it.
I would freeze it and wait until you have another carcass to use.
I don’t agree with any of this. Especially the skimming part, keto lifestyle folks want that fat etc… I don’t give a crap about cloudy broth!