Bone-Broth-FAQ2

The Whole9 Bone Broth FAQ

Over the weekend, we posted an Instagram photo of the bone broth simmering on Dallas and Melissa’s stovetop, captioned, “Bone broth for A.M. sippin’ is going down in the Hartwig household. Are you intimidated by bone broth? Ask your questions here?”

We knew some of you thought the idea of making your own bone broth was a little scary, but we had no idea you had so many questions! So many, in fact, that instead of answering them all on Facebook and Instagram, we decided to create this Bone Broth FAQ, with everything you ever wanted to know about broth.

Let’s take the intimidation factor out of this incredibly health-promoting food!  After this monster question-and-answer session, you should be totally prepared to make your own beautiful broth.

The Whole9 Bone Broth FAQ

What kind of nutritional benefits does bone broth offer?

Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)

What are the benefits of consuming a properly prepared bone broth?

Proline and glycine are important for a healthy gut and digestion, muscle repair and growth, a balanced nervous system, and strong immune system. In fact, a study of chicken broth conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. (There’s a reason your mom always made you chicken soup when you were sick.)

The gelatin in bone broth can help to heal a leaky gut, which may be of specific benefit those with inflammatory or autoimmune disorders. These compounds also reduce joint pain, reduce inflammation, prevent bone loss, and build healthy skin, hair, and nails.

Can I just buy broth from the grocery store?

Nope. Broth (often labelled “stock”) from the grocery store relies on high temperature, fast-cooking techniques, which result in a watered down, non-gelling liquid, so you’re missing out on some of the benefits of a gelatin-rich broth. In addition, unnatural additives (like MSG) and flavors are often added. If you just need a small amount for a recipe, store-bought stuff will do, but if you’re interested in the healing properties of bone broth, you have to make it yourself.

Where do I get bones?

Your local butcher, a local farm (ask around at the farmers market), a friendly hunter, your local health food store (if they have a meat department), or order bones online from U.S. Wellness Meats. You can also save the bones if you roast a whole chicken, turkey, duck, or goose.

What kind of bones should I use?

You can use bones from just about any animal—beef, veal,  lamb, bison or buffalo, venison, chicken, duck, goose, turkey, or pork. Get a variety of bones—ask for marrow bones, oxtail, and “soup bones.” Make sure you include some larger bones like knuckles, or feet (like chicken feet), which will contain more cartilage, and therefore more collagen. You can even mix and match bones in the same batch of broth—some beef, some lamb, some chicken—but know that will change the flavor. (Most folks prefer to stick to one animal source at once.)

Do I have to get grass-fed or pastured bones, or organic bones?

You should. The animals have to be healthy to impart the maximum health benefit to you, and factory-farmed animals are the furthest thing from healthy. (And we don’t want to encourage more purchasing of factory-farmed animals.) Do your best to seek out pastured chicken or 100% grass-fed beef bones from a local source.

Can I have a recipe, please?

First, there are a wealth of recipes online—just search for “bone broth recipe” until you find one that looks good to you. However, we like the Master Recipe for Bone Broth found on page 274 of our book, It Starts With Food, created by our friend Melissa Joulwan of Well Fed and Well Fed 2 fame.

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large onions, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 2-4 lbs. meat or poultry bones

Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker set on high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the setting to low for 12-24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes! Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter into a large bowl, and discard the waste.

Even if you don’t have a slow-cooker you can still reproduce this recipe on a stovetop, with a large pot on low heat.

Do I have to skim the fat?

Only if you want to. Feel free to drink your broth as-is, but if you prefer a broth with less fat (as we do), then follow these instructions: After you’re done cooking, remove your broth from the heat, and run it through a strainer as usual. Then let your broth sit in the fridge for several hours, until the fat rises to the top and hardens. Scrape off the fat with a spoon, and your broth is ready to go. We think skimming off most of the fat is more important if you’re using bones from animals that are conventionally raised.

What other kind of things could I add to my broth to help with flavor?

Here is a list of vegetables, herbs, and spices you could add. Feel free to mix and match, or invent your own recipe.

  • Onion
  • Green onion
  • Leek
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parsley
  • Bay leaf
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Ginger

Avoid using broccoli, turnip peels, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, collard greens, or mustard greens, as they will make your broth bitter.

Why do you add vinegar to the broth?

Adding an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) will help to extract minerals from the bones.  Use a mild-flavored vinegar, like apple cider or rice wine, as white vinegar may taste too harsh in a mellow broth.

Should I roast my bones first?

You can—roasting will impart a rich flavor and color to your broth—but you don’t have to. If you choose to roast your bones first, place them in a pan in an oven set to 350 degrees, and roast for one hour before continuing with your favorite broth recipe.

Why does my broth look so jiggly?

That’s the gelatin—when cool, it makes your broth look a little like meat Jell-O. No worries—just heat it gently on the stovetop and it will return to a liquid state.

My broth doesn’t look jiggly! Why didn’t it gel?

This article from the Healthy Home Economist lists five reasons your broth didn’t gel, but in our experience, it’s generally one of two reasons. First, you might not be using enough bones (or enough of the right type), or you simply might have added too much water. Bones with more visible cartilage will yield more gelatin. Another common reason is that the broth was not cooked for long enough. The remedy? Set your crockpot or burner to the lowest heat setting and just let it go for at least 8 hours (poultry) or 12 hours (beef)—if not longer. Less than that will likely not draw enough gelatin into the stock from the bones. A good rule of thumb: the larger the bones, the longer you’ll want to cook it.

Can you reuse bones for another broth?

You sure can—Paul Jaminet of The Perfect Health Diet says you can reuse bones to make multiple batches of broth until the bones go soft. (Make sure you use fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices each time, though.)

What’s the longest you can leave bone broth to cook?

Chicken bones can cook for 24 hours, beef bones can cook for up to 48 hours.

What do I do with my broth?

We like to drink a mug of it, just like you would coffee or tea. In fact, a warm cup of broth is a great way to start your morning—try drinking 8 ounces a day, every day. Of course, you can use it in recipes wherever it calls for broth or stock, or turn it into a base for your favorite soup.

How long will broth keep in the refrigerator and freezer?

Keep broth in the fridge for no longer than 3-4 days. It should keep in the freezer for up to a year.

How should I store frozen bone broth?

For an easy addition of small amounts of broth to recipes, store some in an ice cube tray in the freezer. One cube is about an ounce, so recipes that call for 1/4 cup of broth would take 2 cubes, 1/2 a cup is 4 cubes, etc. You can store larger amounts in glass mason jars, but be sure to let the broth cool down before transferring to glass. Finally, make sure you leave enough space in a glass container for the frozen broth to expand—otherwise, the glass could break.

 

Did we answer all of your bone broth questions? Do you feel prepared to go forth and simmer? Share your thoughts in comments.


References:

photo credit: fatandhappyblog.com

Comments

  1. Erika says

    Really great post!! You answered all my questions! Gonna go get my grassfed beef bones from the freezer and get ‘em going! Thank you!

  2. says

    I’m a chili queen – and I can confidently say bone broth has totally revolutionized all my homemade soups and chills. It makes it SO much more savory and tasty! If I know I’m going to cook chili on a Tuesday, I’ll start the bone broth in the crock pot Monday morning so it’s done by Tuesday morning and I can throw it in my “Le Parfait” extra large jars and chill it in the fridge.

    Side note – which I didn’t see addressed in the article… DON’T put your broth into glass containers immediately. It’s best to strain it into a large stainless steel mixing bowl and let it cool for 30 minutes before glass jarring! Made that mistake when I was first starting out and had glass “pop” on me.

    I typically always skim off the fat – just because it’s fat that’s been cooked/exposed to heat for 24 hours. I’m not usually confident (especially with bone broth made from chicken bones) that the fat hasn’t been damaged in some way. When using bone broth for other recipes that will be heated quite a bit again – better to take it off just to be safe.

    Thanks guys!

  3. Linda G says

    If you have a large pasta pot that includes the strainer insert, it makes it a lot easier to make broth. Put all your ingredients in the strainer insert, add water, and simmer away. When done, just lift the strainer out of the pot and the clear broth remains. I like to add a strip of kombu to my ingredients for an extra mineral boost.

  4. Valerie says

    Love this – Thank you! Just getting into making my own broth. It really is easy! Except, I still haven’t been able to get mine to gel.

    If the broth didn’t gel – does it still have most of the nutritional benefits?

  5. Maria says

    Where do the maximum cooking times come from? I have made 72 hour beef bone broth using a combination of knuckle and marrow bones, and it is delicious and QUITE gel-ey!

  6. says

    Valerie, if it doesn’t gel, that means the gelatin has broken down in the cooking process. However, according to Nourishing Traditions, “Even if your stock doesn’t gel it is still extraordinarily rich in minerals and amino acids. It still offers powerful nutrition. It doesn’t have congealed gelatin (which breaks down easily), but it has loads of glycine, proline and other goodies.” So drink away!

    Maria, the cooking times came from my general online research, although I’m not sure why you couldn’t cook for longer. (Once the bones go soft, you’re sort of out of benefits in terms of extracting good stuff from them–maybe that’s the reasoning behind a max cooking time.) If 72 hours works for you, keep it up!

    Melissa

  7. says

    I don’t have a slow cooker, so I need to use the stove. What if I can’t leave the stove on for 12 hours? Can I do 6 hours here, 6-8 hours there? Will the broth be the same if I split up the cooking times?

    Thanks for this useful article!

  8. nickliovich says

    This was wonderful. I am still trying to make connections with local farmers. There are still many working farms where we just moved to; however, I do not believe they are animal farms. I really want to make some of this to freeze…and never have to buy broth again. Of course, I would love to find ways to sneak it into everyday food as well. I wonder if you used it when making chili (and proceeded to let it burn off in the pan while cooking), if you would still get the benefits? Would all the benefits burn off or would the meat and vegetables inside the chili absorb the nutrients?

  9. Jenny T says

    I make grass-fed bone broth almost weekly and have a handy hack/tip for people. (I also second Maria’s question on maximum times – normally I do 3 days for bone broth – does too much cooking impact the nutrients?)

    When I make broth I make a HUGE pot of it, and worry that when I stick it in the fridge that it won’t cool down fast enough for optimal food safety. So I divide it up into two slightly smaller HUGE pots, and then throw a quart of frozen broth I made in a previous batch into each pot. It’s like a big frozen broth ice cube, helping quickly cool the hot broth down.

  10. Robin R says

    I use the oven set to 180 degrees – nice consistent temperature (not just hot at the bottom) and leave it on for 2-3 days. Great broth, and more energy efficient! I just have to remember to check the oven to make sure it hasn’t shut itself off. Turning the oven off for a few minutes in the morning and turning it back on again does the trick with my range.

  11. says

    Noelle — I mostly agree about not reusing the chicken fat, but with beef broth, SAVE THE FAT! After everything’s solidified, scrape it off and reserve it in a separate container. (It’ll stay good in the freezer for a loooong time.) That’s tallow — one of the best fats for cooking! So delicious, and also, b/c of its highly saturated nature, I think it’s okay to reuse for cooking. I saute greens in it ans also sometimes use it for omelets. McDonald’s used to fry their fries in tallow many years ago, before the vegetarians went nuts and convinced them to switch to veg oils. (Not that any of us eat at McDs, but if you’re old enough to remember when they used tallow, you might know the difference.)

    I would even consider doing the same with the chicken fat. After all, that’s schmaltz — the favored cooking fat of old-school Jewish grandmas. :)

    Chanlee — divided cooking time is fine. Just make sure that each time you start it up again, you bring it to a boil before you turn the flame back down to low. (Some people say to skim every time you boil, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Maybe just the first 1-2 times.)

  12. Lisa Jane says

    My first batch of bone broth (grass fed beef bones) did not produce the gelatin due to too much water, imo.
    Question: Can I add new bones to the broth I have, which is still very tasty, and get the highly desired gelatinous consistency?

  13. says

    Amy, I mostly agree with you, but with one caveat–only save and reuse the fat if you are starting with a 100% grass-fed or pastured and organically raised animal. Otherwise, please discard, as there may be unwanted tag-alongs (like hormones, anitbiotics, and environmental toxins from the animal’s diet and environment.) trapped in the fat.

    Lisa, I’m not sure I’d bother. The broth you have is still nutrient-dense, so go ahead and consume it, and “transform” bones + water into the nutritious, gelatin-y broth with your next batch. Then you have twice the broth.

    Best
    Melissa

  14. Kristin J. says

    This is perfect! I finally tried my hand at bone broth last week, unfortunately before reading through this article, and wondered why mine had ended up so watery. Additionally, I finally got a pressure cooker and was excited to make some quickly so I could both drink and use in a stew recipe. However, am I cheating myself by not using the slow cooker method? I went 90 minutes but usually end up letting it sit for another 2-3 hours just because I get distracted easily in the kitchen. I definitely want to try slow the next time when I’m not so eager to use a new kitchen toy.

  15. Tracy H. says

    I have a question for the bone broth experts…

    I finished my very first ever batch of bone broth yesterday and put it in the fridge, today I went for a cup and found it had gelled beautifully – yay! However, as I was watching my mug-o-gel heat up in the microwave I was wondering if this, in fact, negates the benefit of the slow cooking process. In other words, am I ruining my broth by microwaving it?

    It still tastes good, so obviously I’m just wondering about health benefits…

  16. says

    Tracy, we aren’t huge microwave fans, but I also don’t believe you are negating the benefits by “nuking” your broth for 30 seconds. However, if you’re worried, it’s really fast just to take a tiny little pot and heat up 8 ounces at a time on the stove.

    Best,
    Melissa

  17. Albin K says

    Hello, such an great article! Im cooking bone broth on wild game. Right at this moment, i’m cooking on deer and red deer. I always get gel when I cook. I use pretty much bone and I make sure all the marrow leaves the bone. I think my fat from wild game if healthy, but I do skimm it with a towel sometimes, guess I will try to get rid of the fat your way this time; with a spoon.

    Thanks for an awsome article!

  18. says

    Thank you for sharing so much wisdom. I have bad osteoarthritis in my hip and it seems that bone broth makes great sense as a possible food as medicine. If anyone knows of anecdotal stories involving bone broth and joint health, please do share.

    From reading Stephanie Seneff’s research a little, she has really impressed on me how important sulfates are to our good health and what a great source bone broth can be for sulfates. It is especially the gelling component, which is full of sulfates, that appears to be most useful. I just finished writing a book about arthritis, and personally discovered that there is a mouse knockout where a sulfate transporter was eliminated. The result was that the mouse had no cartilage.

    So, here is my 2nd question: Which is likely be the source of greatest gelling bone broth ? Beef or chicken ? Knuckles, oxtail, or bone marrow ?

    Thank you again for such wonderful material !

    Todd

  19. says

    Todd, large bones with lots of cartilage (typically joints) will yield the most gelatin. Look for beef, ox, or lamb bones–if you’re using chicken, you can incorporate a few chicken feet to add more gelatin to your broth.

    Best,
    Melissa

  20. says

    Safia, did you actually read the whole article? He says in conclusion, “It seems to me that it’s quite safe to consume 2-3 cups of bone broth per day. This is likely to be even more true if your broth is made from pasture-raised chickens.”

    Melissa

  21. zeph h says

    Turkey necks yield a huge amount of gelatin.
    For faster cooling, place your big pot ‘o’ broth in a sink NOT full of cold water (displacement); repeat till fridge-ready.
    Beef marrow will escape in long cooking so fish out the marrow bones once it’s done, have anice meal of the marrow, and return emptied out bones to cook further.

  22. Mia says

    I made the bone broth with chicken and beef bones. Is it okay to eat the bone marrow when it melts away from the bone? It’s tastes so healing, but not sure if there is too much cholesterol/fat in it to harm. I know it’s a delicacy even in high end restaurants, but is eating it in the broth too much?

    Thank you!

  23. says

    Mia, as long as the bones come from pastured, organic animals (raised in their natural environments, fed their natural diets) I see no reason not to eat the bone marrow, or any other portion of the animal, for that matter! You just want to make sure the animals weren’t given hormones, antibiotics, or were exposed to toxins in their environment first, to ensure the fat you are eating is the healthiest.

    Best,
    Melissa

  24. Kristi says

    Are the bones from one roasted chicken enough for the master recipe in the book? I don’t want it not to gel!

  25. Hannah says

    Hello all! I love love love bone broth, quick question for you though: Can you eat bone broth cold from the fridge in the “jello” like state??

  26. Chelsea says

    Always such great info on the Whole9 blogs – thanks for compiling it all in one place!

    I’ve been researching ways to clear up my (very) acne prone skin, which led me to the Whole9 Canada article about skin breakouts and consuming gelatin. I just started taking the Great Lakes Gelatin (Hydrolysate). Is there any significant difference between consuming the powdered gelatin versus bone broth?

  27. charity says

    Do I need to add onion and veggies? I try to hide broth in my toddlers food and sometimes it doesnt go well in everything when I do.

  28. says

    Charity, you certainly don’t have to… but remember, you’re straining out all of the vegetable matter before you serve the broth, so all you’re getting are the nutrients and a tiny bit of the flavor, not the veggies themselves. Melissa

  29. says

    Bone broth is a great source of lots of nutrients–vitamins and minerals, not just gelatin. So you can certainly consume the Great Lakes stuff (that’s what we use too), but if you can include some bone broth too, you’re getting extra benefits there. Melissa

  30. kevin says

    If I cook my bones ( cut lengthwise to expose the marrow ) in a pressure cooker how long should they cook.

    Regards kevin

  31. T. says

    Question: When you use the carcass from an already roasted chicken, is it ok to leave the flesh on? How much of the meat do you need to remove from the carcass b/c it’s difficult to get a lot of it off. I figured the meat that’s still attached to the carcass will fall off anyway–or is there a safety issue with re-cooking already cooked meat? Thanks!!

  32. Lacey says

    @T. – I would definitely check out the Whole30 forum (forum.whole9life.com) and ask this questions and one of our moderators or experienced members can answer this for you.

  33. diana says

    hi there,thankyou for all the useful info,very helpful to me as i have leaky gut.my question is it ok to add water to the bones as they cook and the water evaporates,even cooking for three hours the water diminishes.not sure what to do.thanks again, diana.

  34. says

    I’ve been wanting to make my own bone broth for a while now. Unfortunately, a fractured elbow has quickly made this “to do” goal a priority now. Do you HAVE to strain the broth before serving? Also, can you use bones that have already been cooked like the bones from a cooked rotisserie chicken?

  35. Karen says

    I have CKD and was told bone marrow stock was very good for my kidneys. However, the minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium) I’ve been told by modern medicine to avoid, as well as protein. Is there any links for me to research the benefits/risks more thoroughly? Thanks!

  36. Sheila says

    OK, I cooked my broth for 12 hours and it tasted great. I cooked it longer since most recipes said to cook it for 24 hours. After 24 hours it tasted flat. It certainly did not taste better. ANy ideas why? Anyway to know when bone broth is done?

  37. Samantha says

    Hi! What’s the nutritional information? Protein, fat etc using recipe similar to balanced bites with beef.. That shows 11g carbs and i can’t imagine that.. thanks!

  38. Nick says

    Can I use a whole chicken to make the broth? Or do I have to boil the chicken, remove the meat, and then put the bones separately into a new pot to boil?

    -Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Diet Education, Paleo Nutrition Workshops, Whole9 | Paleo Nutrition / Posted on: January 01, 1970Whole9 | Paleo Nutrition, Paleo Diet Education, Paleo Nutrition Workshops, Nutrition for Health and … – Over the weekend, we posted an Instagram photo of the bone broth simmering on Dallas and […]

  2. […] Now that that’s over with, I am making my favorite tonic — beef bone broth. We stopped at the butcher on the way back into town today and they had soup bones, so I got a huge, 5 pound beef bone. I am just using half of it. Bone broth is my new obsession; it is insanely good for you — promoting gut health (including an ability to help heal the disgusting sounding Leaky Gut), and joint health of course, plus it is good for your skin and hair and nails, and it’s got valuable amino acids in it that you don’t get from muscle meats. There is a summary of its benefits here. […]

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