Bone broth is made from animal bones and connective tissue — typically cattle, chicken, or fish — that have been boiled into a broth and slow simmered for 20+ hours with herbs, vegetables, and spices. So why is this seemingly simple liquid something you’d want to drink every day?
Bone broth has a rich history of being used in traditional Chinese culture for its many benefits: to support digestion through collagen, minerals, amino acids, and compounds found in bones and connective tissue. Specific compounds like chondroitin sulphate (used in osteoarthritis supplements) and hyaluronic acid(used in facial cosmetic products) are found in cartilage, connective tissue and bones, in case you were wondering.
Even our hunter-gatherer ancestors realized that drinking bone broth was highly valuable, as its earliest version dates back over 2,500 years. Throwing away anything edible was out of the question back then, so animal hooves, knuckles, bones, and other connective tissues never went to waste. People with leaky gut syndrome have also used bone broth to support their diet. Plus, the collagen found in bone broth makes it the perfect food to support healthy-looking skin.
There are two main differences between bone broth and regular broth or stock: simmering time and the part of the animal it’s made from (bones or flesh). Regular broth and stock are simmered for a shorter period of time than bone broth. The expedited cooking process reduces the amount of beneficial gelatin extracted from the bones, limiting its ability to support the immune and digestive systems. Looking for bone broth recipes? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
Simmering bones for an extended period of time is what gives the bone broth its nutritional benefits, extracting amino acids, minerals, and collagen. This is a Kettle & Fire-tested slow cooker chicken bone broth recipe that features organic chicken bones, sea salt, fresh vegetables like celery stalks, onions, and bell peppers, and herbs like parsley rosemary, and thyme.
What’s the Difference between Stock, Broth and Bone Broth?
One of the questions that seem to perplex both culinary professionals, avid and novice cooks alike, is: “What’s the difference between broth and bone broth?” For most of the 22 years, The Chopping Block has been open. We’ve been posed with a similar but different question: “What is the difference between stock and broth?” You see, the term “bone broth” is a new one, at least to most culinary professionals. I never heard the term “bone broth” until the past few years, nor have I ever used it in over 40 years in the business. Thus far, every chef I have asked is pretty much in agreement that this is a term made up by food manufacturers to differentiate between their product offerings. In other words, it is primarily a term used for marketing purposes.
By introducing the term “bone broth,” the food industry has just added confusion to something that already seems to confuse people. To a chef, the word “stock” is used about as frequently as we might refer to salt and pepper. It is the backbone of cooking. However, we rarely use the term “broth” because the broth isn’t so much an ingredient as something that occurs while cooking a recipe. Home cooks tend to use the terms “broth” and “bouillon” as they refer to the product they purchase at the store rather than referring to its culinary origins.
Stock is an ingredient and is made from primarily bones and vegetables, while the broth is made from meat, possibly bones and vegetables. The beef broth wouldn’t really ever be something that I would make or a term that I would use regularly. Just simmering pieces of beef and vegetables in water would yield a broth technically, but it would not be particularly appetizing.
The easiest way to think about a broth and how it is created and used is to think about the example I used above about simmering beef and vegetables in liquid. I would not use that liquid to make a sauce or as an ingredient in another recipe. But if that liquid were generated during the process of making a dish, it would be an important ingredient in the dish. For example, if I were making beef stew, I might brown all the meat, add vegetables and water in the pot with the meat and simmer it. The resulting liquid would be broth. Another example is that I might simmer a whole chicken to cook the chicken as an ingredient for a soup; I would save that liquid and use it in my soup. That again would be a broth.
On the other hand, a stock is primarily boned with vegetables and sometimes meat trimmings. Many people frown on any meat at all in stock as it can make it cloudy and fatty. The ingredients in stock can sometimes be browned to add colour and flavour and sometimes not. The other difference between a stock and a broth is that a stock is cooked for a lot longer. The bigger the bones, the longer it takes to extract the flavour, so a good beef stock might cook for 6 to 8 hours or even longer. Chicken stock would cook a good 4 to 6 hours. Fish and vegetable stock would even cook for 1 to 2 hours. The long cooking process intensifies the flavour, reduces the liquid and extracts the collagen from the bones. The liquid or stock extracted in this method is what makes the most elegant of sauces and soups or elevates any dish it touches.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Bone broth is a “hot topic discussed in many newspapers, blogs and popular health shows. These sources report that drinking bone broth will make your bones strong, relieve joint pain, improve your digestion, and give you firmer skin. Where did this idea come from? We have a wide range of bone broth benefits at Bone Broth.
Bone broth contains collagen, which is the main protein in your body. Collagen protects your organs, joints, and tendons, hold together your bones and muscles and keeps your gut healthy. In addition to being found naturally in your body, collagen is also found in animal bones, the main ingredient used to make bone broth. Many believe that when you drink broth, the collagen in the broth becomes collagen in your body. This is not true. When collagen is consumed, it cannot be used in its whole form. Instead, it is broken down in the body. According to research, collagen from bone broth does not help with increasing the strength of your bones, relieving joint pain, improving your digestion, or causing firmer skin.
The same sources that promote bone broth as beneficial also report false information about the mineral content of bone broth. These claims include that bone broth is a good source of important minerals such as calcium and magnesium and is a source of toxic minerals such as lead and cadmium. These claims are not true. Scientific research shows that bone broth contributes a very small amount of calcium and magnesium compared to your daily needs. Additionally, the risks associated with ingesting lead and cadmium from bone broth are considered minimal.
While bone broth will only provide small amounts of minerals, many home cooks are making their own broth which is very time-consuming. Many recipes recommend cooking bone broth from 8 hours to 24 hours. Is it worth making? Bone broth provides more protein per serving than regular meat broth. On average, chicken bone broth provides almost 9 grams more protein than regular chicken broth, making it a good source of protein.
Most bone broth has at least trace amounts of several nutrients. Adding vegetables to bone broth can also significantly enhance its nutritional benefits.
Broth and broth-based soups can help you feel full despite their low-calorie content, making it an excellent choice for people following a weight loss diet plan.
The high water content in bone broth helps you stay hydrated. Water makes up 70 per cent of the body and impacts virtually every bodily function.
Bone broth contains small amounts of amino acid glycine, which may promote relaxation and deeper, more restorative sleep.
Bone broth is easy to make and a flavorful part of many complex, delicious recipes. It’s also a great way to use otherwise inedible animal bones and tissues.
Nutrients per Serving
Every batch of bone broth is unique, so it’s impossible to calculate the exact nutrient content. However, since the beef stock is among the more common broths around the world, it’s a decent reference point. One cup of beef bone broth contains:
- Calories: 31
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 12 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Fibre: 0 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
The protein content in bone broth may support your body as it builds bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Bone broth also contains small amounts of:
Things to Watch Out For
As broth ingredients simmer over long periods, small amounts of nutrients from the bones or tissue release into the cooking liquid (usually water). Because they appear in such small amounts, it is unclear if the nutrients in bone broth are beneficial to the body.
Several popular claims about the benefits of bone broth may be overstated. So far, we don’t have scientific evidence that bone broth can relieve joint pain, make skin firmer, improve digestion, or strengthen the bone.
6 Tips For Bone Broth That Gels Every Time
I have nearly a decade of broth-making under my belt, so I’ve had time to find what works and how to get bone broth that gels.
Whether this is your first time to make bone broth or you’ve attempted it numerous times, give these tips a try and see how it works!
#1 Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and helps to break down the bones, so the minerals are released into the water. You’ll get more out of your bones this way!
Add up to 4 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to the water + bones. If you’re making broth on the stovetop, let the ACV sit in the water for about half an hour before turning on the heat.
If using an Instant Pot or slow cooker, you can add vinegar and turn it on right away. The time it takes the Instant Pot to come to pressure or the slow cooker to heat up is plenty of time for the ACV to begin to break down the bones.
I promise you won’t taste ANY vinegar in the finished product. The Hubs absolutely detests the smell and taste of ACV, so if there was a hint of it left in the broth, he wouldn’t go near it.
#2 Don’t Use Too Much Water
Probably the most common mistake people make when making broth is using too much water.
A good rule of thumb is to add enough water to just cover whatever bones you have, and don’t add more water than that.
It’s understandable that you want to make lots of broth, so you think using more water is the answer. This, however, dilutes the gelatin, causing your broth to stay as liquid as water even after refrigerating.
#3 Try Adding Chicken Feet
Chicken feet are extremely rich in collagen. So, even if you don’t have many bones, you can make more gelatinous broth if you have a few chicken feet to throw in the mix.
Where to find chicken feet?
I am able to buy them already peeled and ready for broth from my health food store. And they are CHEAP!
If you raise your own chickens or know someone who does, save the feet after butchering. You’ll have to prepare them by peeling first, but it’s worth it to get a lovely, gelled broth.
I do have a tutorial for making a foot-only broth that gels beautifully — Instant Pot Chicken Foot Broth.
#4 Use An Instant Pot (or another electric pressure cooker)
The Instant Pot has changed my life in many, many ways… not the least of which is basically guaranteeing that I make broth on the regular and that it always gels.
Because of the magic of pressure cooking, you can cook bones + water + feet for less time and still get broth that gels!
It is absolutely amazing to me that I can put bones and water in my Instant Pot after dinner is cleaned up and have a rich broth ready before I go to bed!
Hands-down, the Instant Pot is my preferred tool for making broth — over the stovetop and slow cooker.
#5 If Using A Crock Pot, Simmer At Least 12 Hours
I no longer use my Crock-Pot for bone broth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. 🙂
You gotta give all those bones a chance to release the good stuff, and 12 hours is a fair amount of time for them to do that.
Twelve hours is not the most, but it is the least amount of time you should give your broth before using or storing it. And 24 hours is about the longest you should go.
After 24 hours, you start losing liquid, and the broth is more likely to overcook, resulting in a dark, bitter broth that you won’t want to drink.
#6 Always Use Grass-Fed & Organic Bones/Feet/Etc.
The higher quality of your bones and/or feet, the better your broth will turn out. Grass-fed and organic bones, feet, cartilage, etc., are known to be higher in all the beneficial stuff — more collagen, more minerals, more healthy fat. We have a wide range of the best beef bone broth at Bone Broth.
When you’re using food as medicine, you want to use it the best.
So, if you’ve been using conventional bones without gelling success, try using higher quality bones next time and see what happens (while following these other tips, of course).
I hope these few tips help you achieve broth that gels if thus far the Holy Grail of health foods has eluded you!