What is bone broth?
Bone broth is all the hype right now for its health benefits. It contains minerals and nutrients that could support joint and gut health, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is good for skin and hair.
What is the difference between bone broth and regular broth or stock?
There are three different types of broth;
- Broth– meat + vegetables + herbs/seasoning (cook for 1-2hrs)
- Stock– meat + bones + vegetables + herbs/seasoning (cook 2-3hrs)
- Bone Broth – meat + bone + vegetables + herbs/seasoning (cook 8-24hrs) Once chilled the liquid should gel
How is it made?
Bone broth is made by simmering bones and connective tissue, from animals, over a long period of time. This makes for a flavorful nutrient-dense broth. It’s most known for its high content of collagen. By cooking the collagen it turns it into gelatin, which provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
You can use any type of animal bones but the most useful for this type of broth are marrow, knuckles, joints, and feet. The reason for this is, these types of bones are collagen-rich. Always use organically sourced bones. By doing this you know that you are not ingesting those added hormones and antibiotics. You can purchase your bones from local butchers or farms. Bones can also be sourced from your home-cooked meals. After roasting that whole chicken or turkey, the carcass makes for the perfect base for a bone broth. You could also save bones from multiple meals until you have enough to create your broth. Just keep stockpiling them in a zip-lock bag kept in your freezer.
How to store bone broth
Once the bone broth is chilled it can be stored in your fridge for up to five days. By freezing it you can enjoy it for up to 6 months. To do this you can freeze in glass jars, freezer-safe zip-lock bags, ice cube trays, or silicone molds. The benefit to freezing smaller portions, such as in ice cube trays or silicone molds, is you have smaller easy to use amounts. You can heat a few cubes in a mug to sip on or you can add them to your recipes. This way you’re not defrosting a large amount and wasting it or having the stress of using it all up quickly.
How to use bone broth
My favorite way to enjoy bone broth is just sipping it out of a mug. You could also use it as a base for soup or a stew. Rice could be cooked in it instead of water to add extra flavor. Pretty much any recipe that calls for the use of broth.
Pros and cons of homemade bone broth vs store bought
- Fresh = Best Flavor
- Nutrient-dense with minimal processing
- Can be costly if you are sourcing the best ingredients
- Short shelf-life – In fridge 5 days/ Freezer 6months
- Comes in a variety of options such as powder, concentrate, and liquid retort.
- Long shelf life
- Ready to consume
- Loss of nutrients
- Poor Flavor
- Salty due to storing processes
- Possible additives and chemicals
Lets put it to the test!
I decided to try 3 of the 4 options- powdered, retort, and homemade by myself.
I went to Wholefoods knowing they would have the most and best quality options in my area. I decided to give the brand name OM a try. They had three options of broth; chicken bone broth, beef bone broth, and mushroom. I decided on the chicken option.
The first thing I noticed is that the powder had an unpleasant smell when I opened the packet. It reminded me of the smell that is given off when you open a jar of fish food… if you’ve ever had a pet fish you may know what I am talking about. I filled a mug with hot, almost to a boil, water. The powder needed a bit of a good mix and it seemed like I couldn’t get all the lumps to disintegrate.
Taste-wise the first thing I noticed was the salt. I like salt but this was very salty. I looked at the nutrient label to be shocked at the amount of sodium. I looked this up and this is a result of the dehydrating process to create the powder. The next thing I tasted was butter and it also had a nice buttery texture. I could also detect the flavor of chicken and celery. The mushrooms also added a nice umami flavor to the broth. It was a deep beautiful brown color. Again, I did have a bit of difficulty getting the powder to fully mix into that water. The made for a funky last sip full of sediment.
Overall the flavor was nice and I would give it a 7 out of 10 and I would drink it again. I also like how portable the packs are.
For the grocery store option, I decided to go with the popular Kettle & Fire brand name and chose the Classic Chicken Bone Broth.
This version also has a beautiful deep brown rich color. It has a slight buttery/oily texture but in a good way. It has a light chicken flavor. Definitely not as salty as the powder type and about 100 fewer mg of sodium. The liquid version also offers the same amount of 10g of protein. I thought the actual flavor was a bit simplistic and not as enjoyable to sip on compared to the powdered version but I would use this in a soup recipe.
Overall I give this liquid carton version a 6 out of 10.
Homemade Bone Broth
I was the most excited about trying this version. I decided I was going to make it in my Instant Pot instead of on my gas stove top because the thought of an open flame being on for 24 hours gave me anxiety and I am so glad I made it this way because it came out delicious!
I tried it two ways. First, by cooking in the Instant Pot for 3 hrs on low pressure under the Soup/Broth setting. This process made a nice light broth but I was looking for a result with more flavor so the next day I tried again. This time I set the Instant Pot for high pressure under the Soup/Broth setting and the results were delicious!
When making your own bone broth it is important to source your ingredients from the best quality products. Where I live, there are no local butchers, so I went to Whole Foods. There in their freezer section I selected beef marrow bones and chicken backs. Both of these type of bones are rich in collagen.
To begin the process I blanched the beef marrow bones. This is not necessary, but by taking this extra step you help to rid the bone of any impurities.
To begin blanching, I placed the marrow bones in a stockpot and covered them with cold water. You then bring them to a boil, at medium heat, and let them go for 20 minutes. This is what the result looks like. You can see all that yucky scum floating on the top that would have been in your bone broth.
Now it’s time to roast the bones. Again, this is not a necessary step but gives so much additional flavor I recommend doing it. I used a deep roasting pan with a metal rack in it. If you do not have a roasting pan you could use a cookie sheet but double up on tinfoil because it could get messy. I placed all bones and vegetables into the pan and roasted for 30 minutes at 425 degrees F. You want the bones to get a nice brown color and caramelize the onions.
Take everything from the roasting pan including any brown bits or juices and put it in the Instant Pot stockpot. Then, fill the pot with water so that it covers all the bones by an inch. I have the 8 quart version of the Instant Pot but you could use any size pressure cooker as long as there is enough room for the bones to be covered by water. Then, fill the pot with water so that it covers all the bones by an inch. To heighten To heighten the flavor I have added whole peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves).
Place the Instant Pot lid on and turn to lock. Make sure you have the steam release knob in the “seal” position so that the cooker can build up pressure. For best results choose the Soup/Broth option and high pressure. Set the timer for 2.5-3hrs. When the Instant Pot alerts you that it has finished the cycle allow for the steam to naturally release for a half hour.
Hit the release knob to make sure all steam has exhausted and the indicator button shows that it is safe to open. Using a slotted spoon or tongs remove all the bones and vegetables. Remove the pot from the Instant Pot cooker and pour over a bowl with a strainer to remove any left over particles. If you want to further clarify the broth you could also pour through cheese cloth but this isn’t necessary.
You will want to cool and store your bone broth as soon as possible to avoid any bacteria growth. You can do this by putting a hand full of ice into the broth and stir. I also filled my sink with cold water and then submerged the pot filled with the broth in it. This cooled it down very quickly. I opted to store half of the broth in freezer-safe zip-lock bags with measured amounts of 1 cup and 2 cups for later use in recipes. The other half I stored in a glass tupperware container and placed in the fridge. Overnight the bone broth should gel and this will indicate that it is full of that wonderful collagen.
I hope you decide to give the homemade version a try because it is well worth it!
- 1 8 Quart Instant Pot You could use any pressure cooker and any size, just make sure it's large enough to hold bones and cover with water.
- 1 Roasting Pain
- 1 Soup Pot
- 3 lbs Bones I used a mixture of beef marrow bones and chicken backs
- 2 Carrots Halved or quartered
- 2 Stalks Celery
- 1 Onion Cut in half and leave skin on
- 2 cloves Garlic Leave skin on
- 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Whole Black Peppercorns
- Herbs of your choice I used a mix or rosemary, sage, thyme, and bay leaves
- Blanch Bones- Place beef marrow bones in a stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 20 mins. Preheat oven to 425°. Drain bones and rinse them with water.
- Roast Bones- Place all bones in a roasting pan along with vegetables. Roast for 30 minutes until bones are a nice brown color.
- Transfer all roasted ingredients to your Instant Pot- Include all juices and brown bits from the roasting pan. Pour in whole peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, and herbs. Fill the pot up with water to fully submerge all ingredients.
- Cook- Lock lid and make sure the steam release knob is in the "seal" position. Select the Soup/Broth option on your Instant Pot and select high pressure. Adjust time to 2.5 hours. It will take about 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to Full Pressure. When the timer alerts that the cycle has finished, allow for the pressure to release naturally for about 30 minutes.
- Strain- pour pot contents over a strainer and if need be, strain again through cheese cloth.
- Cool- You will want to quickly cool the broth's temperature to avoid any bacterial growth. You can do this by adding a hand full of ice and then covering the pot and place in the fridge to finish the cooling process.
- Store- Scrap off the top layer of fat ( this is optional) and underneath you should have a nice gelled result. You can store it in the fridge for about a week. You can also freeze for later use in jars, freezer bags, or cube trays. If you use cube trays, freeze liquid then empty cubes in a freezer bag.
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I could earn a small commission if you make a purchase using one. This comes at no additional cost to you and I will only ever share items I have used myself and tested out.*