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!
Greetings, Connor! I have never made bone broth. I was thinking about making some chicken bone broth. But after reading your posts I am not sure I have enough bones. I roasted a 5 lb cutup organic fryer in the oven tonight. I removed most of the meat off the bones as I want to use the chicken in chicken salad and probably in a couple other dishes. I kept the bones in a plastic bag. THere is still a little meat on the bones here and there, like in the back and the neck which . And then I have another bag containing some dark meat scraps, and skin. I had brushed a little olive oil on the skin before baking, btw.. Since making the bone broth is basically an after thought, but if it is possible to proceed, I sure would like do that… This chicken cost me about $25 so I sure would like to use it to the fullest. So right now I have 3 containers in the fridge. A container of nice tender cooked chicken, a bag with the bones from the one chicken…and a bag of scraps and skin. I have a large soup pan to use on the stove top. And I have celery, carrots, and onions…and some fresh parsley and rosemary growing in pots in my kitchen and a big assortment of dried herbs and spices. available . My first question is this… Do you think the bones from this one 5 lb chicken is enough to work with or would you recommend me freezing them and adding more to them before attempting bone broth. (No chicken feet ) And 2nd question… did me brushing the skin with a little olive oil before baking the chicken ruin my chances for successful bone broth?
Yes I am curious as well. Magnesium (and most other minerals) levels are very low in bone broth, so my educated opinion is that there may be a 10% or so difference. But the total number is so low that it makes no real difference when it comes to your individual RDA for magnesium (or any other mineral) per day. a 10% increase of a very small number is still a very small number.
As for not listing more vitamins and minerals. Yes you are correct, it gets very expensive and you are charged for each mineral you test for. We are a small business and can’t really afford to test everything.
As for collagen my hunch is that it would not change base on my experience looking at our lab results over the years. It is more about the connective tissue you are using to make it than any acid.
Hello! Thank you for this article. I am curious if there were any changes in collagen connect with added ACV, because that is why I heard you should add it, not calcium, but that is not included. Also, magnesium would be interesting to see, and as many nutrients as possible, really, as there are many dozens potentially available in foods. I don’t know what the process is to check each nutrient, so maybe it is a cost, time, equipment, etc., issue?
Hi David, woah I love your story so much. You are such a thoughtful and generous human to do that.
Sounds like you’ve got the nutrition recipe nailed to make some potent bone broth!
Yes in your case I Would cook it for 3 hours then remove the lid safely and skim all the fat then.
I am not familiar with using blood in bone broth. I wish I had an answer for you but I don’t. You can try it and let me know how it goes.
I started making bone broth when my 90 yr old mom broke her shoulder. Her doc said it would never heal. 3 months later, with chicken b broth.and nettle tea, he was astonished that it had. I used an older recipe, partially adjusted for flavor. It was so delicious I had to stop myself from drinking up her elixir b4 I could make another batch. She drank 1 c/day. It was a slow process, but well worth it. Yes there were 2 tbsp of cider vinegar or lemon juice, because I remember well my gradeschool experiment with the chicken bone in vinegar. I found chicken backs at a local butcher for 67 cents/ lb, Roasted half for flavor, boiled raw the rest, after pulling off fat from both which I rendered into “schmaltz” and learned how to use that, the rest simmered super slow for 24 hrs with a remote thermometer, pulled off the meat as soon as cooked for other things. Most delicious, versatile way to use a discarded part of an animal. Gelled firm every time. 24 hr simmer, stovetop.. Wouldn’t do it any other way. Veggies for flavor in the last hour. I’ve tought this to a few friends. If you want a clear culinary broth, that takes different methods. This was for nutrition and flavor
Thanks for the information. I apologise if this has previously been addressed and I missed it but wondering about skimming when you pressure cook. Can I cook for 3 hours and skim when remove lid?
Thank you Terry.
Thanks for your comment Jim. I understand that 10 vs 12 represents a 20% increase.
But these numbers are so small, it represents a rounding error in terms of nutritional benefits when it comes to calcium.
I think context is very important here. Perhaps I should have given more in the article.
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%
My goal is to help people save time and money in making bone broth themselves and minimizing mistakes while maximizing the nutrition quality of their homemade broth.
Do you think that 0.5% compared to 0.6% for one serving makes sense for budget conscious shoppers to spend more money on adding apple cider vinegar? I would say no.
If you prefer using apple cider vinegar to get an extra 0.1% of your recommended daily intake of calcium. By all means, go for it.
12 vs 10 mg calcium is 20% more. I would call that very significant! Use the vinegar!
Can I use the blood from the turkey I bought at WinCo in making my bone broth?
Thanks for posting Melissa. After some thought I do believe you are right. I’ve spoken with our QA team and am now comfortable sharing the lab results. They’ll get pasted into this article this week.
I just read that paper again and appreciate the reminder. Ill paste the conclusion here so people can see:
“The calcium and magnesium levels in home-made or commercial broth/soup, according to the literature and current study, are no more than low tenths of a milligram per serving. These levels are generally a few percent of the DRIs, and so their contributions to daily Ca and Mg requirements are considered to be small.”
I just think it’s hilarious that these folks know so much but as one person asked them to share their lab results they’re reply is that Canada won’t allow them it’s all a load of bull sh*t. Apple cider is good. It’s good for a lot of things. Whether anything they say is true or not to me is in question. But I’m learning more from the comments. I’m going here to see what this commenter shared https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5533136/
You’re welcome J!
I love how sensible this is. Thanks for posting.
No you do not need to blanch if you are skimming.
Thanks for the info…. So we do not need to blanch if skimming…. Right??
Thanks for your message.
You can find a great recipe for instant pots here: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/instant-pot-bone-broth-recipe
There’s also info in that article about nutrition if you are using pressure cookers.
Thanks for this quite unique education! I work at a butchershop (organic for the matter of fact) and we are about to sell homemade broth. Does pressurecook broth affect the quality you think? Since the process is way less time consuming. And if not so, what would be a good time for pressure cooking?
Have a great day!
Sjoerd from the netherlands
Here is a great recipe you can use linked below. It would usually include thyme, parsley and pepper.
let me know if you have any questions.
I really appreciated your article, thank you for educating me! I want to make homemade beef bone broth. Realize you have a product to sell, but my question is, would homemade recipe include carrots onions celery thyme salt peppercorns, anything else? Thank You!!
Sounds like some good bone broth! Having your bone broth white means the fat coagulated into the broth during the summer. Once this happens its; impossible to fix for this particular batch.
There is nothing wrong with white bone broth. It just looks different.
In the future I would advise a few things.
1. never stir or touch your bone broth while it is simmering. Be gentle when you re-add water as to not disturb it too much.
2. Be diligent with your skimming of the foam, fat and impurities during the first 1-2 hours of the simmer.
These two things usually fix any cloudy bone broth. Please keep me updated on how it goes.
I made beef bone broth this weekend and was told to blanch the bones. It was my first time doing that. After that I roasted them high and long like instructed, (no, they never burned).
I brought them to a boil, and then simmered for 48 hours.
There were lots of bones and enough filtered water to cover, and I added more as it simmered down over two days. It was cloudy from the beginning.
At the end I strained it, cooled it and popped the fat off the top.
I wish I could show a picture because it’s pure white and super gelatinous!!
I will still use it in smooties as I’m sure it’s full of nutrition. But how can I prevent this in the future?
BTW, flavour is not the best when it’s on its own, I pack my smoothies with other superfoods.
Thanks in advance for any advice and reading this to the end:)
That sounds delicious! Save some for me next time :)
As long as you are getting a bone broth that gels at fridge temperature, I would not worry about nutrient loss due to the pressure cooker or extreme heat.
We are nit-picking when you get to the level of performance you are what with your bone broth.
I would enjoy it and not worry about getting anymore nutrition out of it.
Hope this helps.