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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about how long will it last in the fridge?
3-7 days in the fridge. Longer with a nice, thick fat cap.
That’s what I thought -thanks!
Thank you. I had a chicken bone broth taste awful and wasn’t monitoring my continuous crock pot brew enough. Now I understand what went wrong and will also watch the color. It makes sense.
Thanks for the great info. Lately I keep reading that people are making bone broth in a pressure cooker, that only takes 20 minutes. What are your thoughts on using a pressure cookers?
I use one when needed, yes. However, I don’t believe 20 minutes is long enough. I personally go for an hour.
I love this website! I just have a quick question… I’m just about to start my 2nd batch of bone broth, but my 1st with beef bones. Should I soak them in the water/ vinegar mix first, or should I bake them in the oven to get the maximum benefits 1st?
You can roast them, cool, then soak in the water and vinegar mixture. That gives the maximum nutrition and the best flavor and color.
amber b says
so, i cooked my broth too long or too high and the flavor turned. can i still keep the bones for a second batch, or do i need to toss them with the broth?
Amber, you can go ahead and try with a second batch. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I read on the WAPF website that broth can simmer up to 72 hours. Is this wrong? I have always done about 2 days, and I did 3 with my first batch of beef broth.
I have done a lot of chic broth, but new to beef broth. I did roast the bones. Can I use them again like I do with the chix broth?
How do I know if it has turned? And how do I know if the fat is rancid from cooking too long??
Can I start cooking the broth and then put in the fridge and then resume again later? I often find I don’t have enough 8-hr blocks to cook broth.
Betsy, you can. Another option is to use a crock-pot.
What are your thought about suitable instant pot for making this? I made some and cooked it 1 hr and 20 minutes it turned out good I thought.
Teresa, I now use the Instant Pot exclusively for making stock. I adore mine!
I am currently cooking stock in the instant pot, using beef bones. It smells good, but it’s very pale. Any idea why this is or how to darken it?
Roast the bones before you cook them. Roasting darkens the stock and makes it look like what you would expect coming from a carton. It also deepens the flavor.
I am burning my broth in the slow cooker. I cook on low for 24 hours. It stinks and is brown. I don’t understand what I am doing wrong.
Carroll, it’s possible your crock-pot cooks at too high of a temperature. Newer crock-pots tend to cook a lot hotter than the older ones. It boils constantly instead of simmering. Does it taste burnt?
I used to make great chicken broth. Lately i have made chicken stock and it tastes sour and stinks bad. I cook it overnight (total of about 24 hrs) on the back burner of my ceramic stove. Is this too long or perhaps the heat is too low. I hate going throuh all that work and throwing it out.
The sour smell could be from a change in chicken suppliers? I find that the bones from some brands smell far better than others.
I did an experiment and after about 3 days of cooking the stock, it starts to smell like microwave popcorn. After a week, there is a distinct ammonia smell. Too long is really possible. The “turn” is probably due to protein breaking down. Thanks for explaining why things don’t gel. That explains a lot about why you only cook fish stock for a brief time also. I wondered why mine didn’t gel.
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