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.
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!
Thanks for sharing the research Larissa!
Sounds like you are making some delicious bone broth! Your bone broth still has some nutritional benefit. However, it likely does not have enough protein in it for it to gel.
This is likely because of your bones to water ratio. You may need to double the amount of carcasses you are using in order to get it to gel. Or else you could try adding in some chicken feet or wings to get more gelatin.
Hope this helps and let me know how it goes.
Since you didn’t source any of your content…I am just going to leave this here.
Only misinformed bloggers complain about other misinformation. People with facts are happy to share them.
Hello, I make chicken bone broth regularly using two full chicken carcasses in a slow cooker. I boil for about 35-40 hours and the broth tastes delicious! I always skim the hard fat off the top after it has cooled. However, while my broth tastes delicious, it never turns to gelatine- it is always a thin runny liquid. So, for the past 3 years that I have been making it, and thinking I was drinking bone broth, have I been doing something wrong? If it never is thick and gelatiney, does that mean it doesn’t have the healthy properties??
Trying my hand now at beef bone broth for the first time so hoping that hardens when cooled…
From a nutrition standpoint, it does not matter whether you roast the bones or not. From a taste perspective, I think roasting the bones does make it taste better with a greater depth or flavor.
It is up to you. For a recipe you can read this article: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/bone-broth-recipe
Thanks for reading and trying out bone broth! I think what you are doing is fine. You can make chicken bone broth with a 5-6 hour boil. It really comes down to how concentrated your final bone broth is after this boil. Does it gel in the fridge? If not, then you could consider boiling a bit longer next time you make it.
Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.
Unfortunately we cannot publish our lab results at this point for ur bone broth.The Canada Food Inspection Agency requires that we keep it confidential.
I am new to Bone Broth making but am unclear about prep’ ie should I roast the bones before slow cooking or put the bones straight in water and cook? Or does it not really matter?
Hi, Thank you for the helpful info!
I make broth regularly, mostly with chicken bones and heavy on the veggies and mushrooms. I’ve always wondered if I should have been adding the apple cider vinegar or blanching/draining and continuing for purer broth but have never bothered so I appreciate your reassurance.
Also I’ve been using a heavy Le Creuset pot with a stainless strainer insert which unfortunately fills up quickly when adding a whole carcass and veggies, if I cover with water I have to carefully monitor it’s boil or it will overflow until it’s boiled down a bit. I continually add water to keep a decent boil and the ability to skim. I continue doing that until everything seems well cooked down and the broth tastes yummy….
My question to you is if cooking broth like this on a heavy boil but adding water only takes 5 or 6 hours, is that enough time to exract the collagen and nutrients or should I plan better and make sure I cook the broth for longer?
Thank you for your time.
Curious if you would mind posting the results of the many lab tests you have done.
You can absolutely use raw chickens to make bone broth. It will make delicious broth!
let me know how it goes.
Can you buy a couple of raw whole chickens and simmer that for a broth?
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.
If using all leg bones with chicken, would cracking the bones before cooking add any benefit?
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.
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.
Is using pork such as pigs feet an okay thing to do? Why do I not see any bone broth recipes using pork bones?
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!)
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!
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.
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?
What’s the purpose of skimming the top? What impurities would rise to the top? I’ve never skimmed my broth before.
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.
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
What about making chicken bone broth in an instant pot better or worse then stovetop to get collagen