Our post The Five Biggest Bone Broth Mistakes You Might Be Making was very popular. I received many questions about it, so I decided to follow it up with more mistakes and more information to answer many of the questions I have received.
Cooking Too Short
It takes time for the minerals and nutrients to be drawn out of the bones and into the bone broth. If you stop before this happens, you won’t be getting everything you need. It wastes nutrients by throwing them into the garbage instead of drawing them into the bone broth (sometimes called stock).
Cook bone broth a minimum of 8 hours, but go up to 48 hours for chicken and 24 hours for beef if you’re using a crock-pot or cooking it on the stove. The longer it cooks, the more nutrition you extract from the bones, generally speaking.
If you don’t have a crock-pot and don’t want to cook things overnight on the stove, you can instead use an Instant Pot to cook the bone broth. You can produce rich, extracted bone broth in about two hours, using a one hour cooking time with the Instant Pot and your normal stock recipe, being careful not to fill the Instant Pot past the maximum capacity line.
This saves time and energy and it avoids heating your house up in the Summer. When it’s warm outside, I place my crockpot or Instant Pot on the back porch or in the garage. This keeps from adding additional heat to the house.
I recommend the 6-quart or the 8-quart Instant Pot.
Cooking Too Long
But there is a limit to how long cooking remains beneficial. If you let the bone broth go too long, it can turn and the stock can become bitter or have off-flavors. If you go longer than 24-48 hours on the stove or in a crock-pot, depending on how high you have your heat, you can have the flavor turn. This can be an issue in modern crock-pots where the temperature on the low setting has been raised.
Sometimes, you can tell the flavor has turned by the color of the broth. If it turns unnaturally dark, you’ve probably cooked it too long or at too high of a temperature.
If you’re doing a ‘continuous brew’ set-up where you remove the broth and add bones and water daily, make sure you check it daily. You must ensure it’s doing ok and doesn’t need to be pulled. Caution is needed with this method, as the pot is left overnight unattended. I do not recommend using the stove for overnight cooking. It’s best to use a crock-pot or an Instant Pot instead for safety.
Bone Broth Pots
It’s important to avoid aluminum when making bone broth. Aluminum can leech under heat and long cooking conditions, and you don’t want that in your stock! Stainless steel or cast iron are good choices, as is enameled cast iron. Remember, the heavier-bottomed the pot, the better heat distribution you get. This will avoid a burnt or off-flavor developing from hot spots if you’re cooking on the stove.
It’s also important not to use an undersized pot. Crowding can mean you don’t wind up with as rich of a bone broth as you desired.
Personally, I make most of my bone broth in an Instant Pot. I use my massive, 18-quart roaster and crock-pot combo for large amounts of bones. This happens at Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I have more stock to make than my Instant Pot will hold. This allows me to cook the turkey or multiple chickens and the stock in a single vessel without having to wash it in-between. This has the added bonus of freeing up your oven to use for the side dishes.
Bone Broth Gel
Gelling is awesome, but if you cook your broth a long time in order to extract all of the nutrients from the bone, don’t be surprised if the bone broth doesn’t gel. The gelatin has broken down from the long cooking time.
It’s still there, it’s just broken down so it’s more easily absorbed. If you’re really concerned, you can add some high quality, commercially purchased gelatin to it. Or you can pop in some chicken feet the last few hours of cooking. This gives it some gel, even if you’re making beef or pork bone broth. Either way, gelled or not, bone broth is still awesome.Gelling is awesome, but if you cook your bone broth a long time in order to extract all of the nutrients from the bone, don't be surprised if the bone broth doesn't gel. The gelatin has broken down from the long cooking time. Click To Tweet
Using Fat Incorrectly
Using fat after a long cooking time can be a problem because the fat can go rancid. If you wish to reclaim the fat, use a ladle skim the fat once it has liquified (after about an hour or two) and pop it into the fridge to solidify. If you miss any fat and you find it after cooking, be sure to discard that fat before use.
This method has a good and a bad. It’s good in that you can claim the fat and use it. It’s bad, however, in that a nice, thick fat cap on the bone broth can make it last longer in the fridge. So to compensate, plan on using your stock quickly. Or freeze it for long-term storage so you don’t accidentally miss the window and it goes to waste.
Also, I’ve been known to add the fatty trimmings from chickens and chicken skin. Thiss bulk up the fat content in the stock. I could have it both ways- ladle some off for cooking and keep the rest so the bone broth could have a protective fat cap.
Either way, be sure to store your stock in the coldest part of your fridge so it will last as long as possible. Be sure to use the bone broth or freeze it within three days.
How often do you make bone broth or stock? What is your preferred method?
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