Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Make Bone Broth with Serious Gel {GUEST POST}

November 15th, 2011 · 91 Comments · Food for Thought, Monday Missions

When the feasting lets up a little, and the kitchen can be cleaned up a little, I tend to want to throw everything into either the dishwasher or the garbage. Leftovers are quite handy to have, so I’ll make an exception and pack those up for the fridge, and there’s one other thing I’ll do before collapsing onto the couch: gather up the bones from the meat and start a pot of stock.

Note from Katie: Although a very, very early Monday Mission was about homemade chicken stock with all my instructions, I asked Lauren from Leto’s Passion to share her tips on getting serious gel action to help you with this week’s brothy mission. Check out this photo to see why:

congealed stock (475x316)

That is simply congealed liquid stock – not frozen at all! Hoo boy!

What is Broth?

First of all, we need to know what we’re talking about. Most often the words stock and broth are used interchangeably. If you really want to get technical, stock is just the liquid (whether it needs to be from raw ingredients is up for debate), and broth describes the soups you can make out of it. I remember this by thinking of the stalk of a plant from which the various branches (B is for…) grow. Or, “this soup is delicious! It must come from good stock”.

Nonetheless, we always talk about “bone broth” – probably because it sounds better with all those Bs. And you know what? It has a lot of Bs in it too: riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and B6.

If you’re interested in what exactly broth has in it that makes it so good for you, hop over to my blog for the sciency background stuff, but I saved the tips and deliciousness for KS readers!

How Do I Make It?

Stock can be made from raw ingredients or pre-cooked. Since a lot of you are probably staring down a turkey carcass right now, or will be soon, we’ll start with the pre-cooked version.

  1. Set up the pot. First of all, save your drippings! If you don’t need them all for gravy, get them into the pot or slow cooker you’ll use for stock right away while they’re still liquid. Since I often roast a chicken in my dutch oven, I can just leave the juices all in there, carve and plate up the meat, and throw the off-cuts and bones back in the pot as they come along. Not only will the fats in those drippings make for a richer stock, the goodies that are already leaching out of the bones are in there and we want to capture them.
  2. Acid soak the bones. Break down the carcass a little, so it lays as low as possible (without packing) in the pot or crock. Splash a little apple cider vinegar or wine over it (about 2 tablespoons should do it, but I never measure) and put in enough water to just cover everything. Clap a lid on it and leave it there while you go and enjoy your dinner. This acid soak starts breaking down the bones so the minerals can more easily dissolve into your stock.
  3. Quick heat. When you’re ready to face the stove again (at least 20 minutes after the bones started soaking, but not so long that you’re worried about salmonella!) turn the heat up quite high and bring the pot to a low boil, then turn it down as low as it goes. This will get you through the salmonella danger temperature range, liquefy the collagen to produce gelatin, and bring any impurities to the surface so you can skim them off. If you don’t skim, the stock will likely be cloudy, and may taste off.

A lot of the joint-supporting things in stock are broken down by heat, so we want to keep the pot just hot enough that the occasional bubble bloops up, but not let it get hot enough to simmer. The two main reasons that stock might not gel are too much water (diluting the gelatin) or too much heat (breaking it down).

Gas stoves and slow cookers can be tricky with this. If you’re struggling to get the temperature down, there are trivets one can buy that lift pots higher off the gas flame, and I’ve heard of putting a cleaned and empty tuna tin between the inner and outer bowls of a slow cooker to do the same thing.

  1. Now you wait. Anything between 8 and 24 hours is reasonable. After a few hours you can check to see if the bones are soft enough to break. That exposes the marrow and lets its fats and nutrients leach into your stock better.
  2. Add flavourings at the end. I tend to leave my stock “virgin” so I can flavour it as I want when I go to cook with it, but you can throw in or carrot peelings and onion skins, whole peppercorns and a bay leaf a couple of hours before the stock will come off the heat. (More on that in a minute.) Salt is not recommended at this stage because it may wind up too concentrated in your final product.
  3. Strain and store. To strain, line a colander with a piece of cheesecloth, a clean tea towel or a couple layers of coffee filter, and set this over a bowl with a spout. I use my biggest Pyrex jug. Using tongs, fish as many bones as you can out of your stock and put them in a separate bowl (skipping this will overfill your colander and generally causes me to spill hot stock all over the kitchen counter). Pour the stock through the colander to strain it, then into whatever you’re going to store it in. Yes, this produces more dishes than I like, but I have not found a better way. (Do you have a method for straining and storing stock that doesn’t create so many dishes to wash? Share it in the comments!)

Starting from Scratch

If you look in the fridge and realize you’re running low on stock and there is no poultry carcass in your immediate future, starting from raw ingredients is easy.

The best cuts for soup are the cheapest, but not always the easiest to find: wings, feet, and necks. (For larger animals tails are also on the list, and for fish the whole head. I’ll be posting about those stocks later in the week.) Feet need a little preparation, but the rest is the same as with a cooked carcass: acid soak, low boil and skim, then barely blooping for 8 to 24 hours.

As with the first method, bones can be reused, lowering the cost even further. When the broth stops gelling and the bones fall apart, you’re done.

A note on vegetables: When I’m really with-it and planning ahead, I save up my (prewashed) vegetable skins and peelings in the fridge or freezer specifically to add to stocks. Anything is fair game, but I’d advise against brassicas (rutabaga, turnip, kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and mustard) because they’ll make your house small like farts and the stock taste like old socks. If you want to add herbs or very delicate greens, do so not more the 20 minutes before you strain your stock or the heat will kill their nutrient contributions.

For those on GAPS, starting from either raw or cooked bones is acceptable.

And if you happen to have a pressure cooker (or histamine intolerance), here’s a fast method that will give you all the flavour but probably less of the collagen and gelatin found in the slow-simmered versions. It is not a GAPS recommended method.

How Do I Store It?

Strained into tightly-sealed jars, stock will keep for quite a while in the fridge. I can’t really say how long a while, but I can say that two to four weeks is not unreasonable. You’ll know that you’re running out of time if the gel starts to melt. And of course, any protein that is truly gone off will have a smell that instinct will recognize in a nanosecond. Those are the times I’m glad that bones are cheap!

If you’re facing a huge batch of broth and have no plans for soup in the next week or two, freeze it. I use ice cube trays (especially for broths I only ever want a little of, like fish or shrimp) and transfer the cubes to bags when they’re solid, or Ziploc bags with all the air squeezed out and laid flat until they’re frozen. Just remember to label and date your bags; you should have 3 to 6 months to consume your stock, but freezer burn is still something to watch for! I’ve also heard of freezing stock in mason jars (with proper technique to avoid dangerous and messy explosions).

Do not store it in metal, as the gelatin will react with it and cause corrosion.

What Do I Do With It?

Soup

The simplest soup of all (my 3y.o. calls it “plain soup”) is just broth in a mug. I confess that when I first read of that I thought, seriously? But it’s amazing. It was probably the first time that I consumed something and heard my body say, “thank you. That was exactly what I needed”. You can serve it with a meal but we generally use it as a snack or meal replacement; and it makes a great substitute for a coffee-only breakfast.

The next level of fanciness is to add chopped vegetables and/or meat, rice, barley or noodles, and cook them in the broth for soup. How about a real French onion soup, simmered for hours (and possibly served with more marrow goodness)? Alternatively, once the stock is hot you can stir it hard and drizzle in a raw scrambled egg to make egg drop soup, or finely slice a thin omelet and use that instead of noodles.

Needing something that sticks to the ribs, or that a picky eater can’t pick apart? Blend it. There are of course endless possibilities, but here are some I’ve posted on my blog: a thick orange one, a white one, and a stew-style brown one. Towards the end of the week we often enjoy “green soup”, made of whatever is wilting in the crisper cooked in broth and blended.

Sauces and Gravies

A broth reduction on its own makes a flavourful gravy (you can omit the flour, which technically makes it an au jus, or substitute from this tip sheet if you’re gluten free), but you can add whatever suits your palette and budget too: red or white wine, mushrooms, cream, spices. Just be sure to add salt at the end, so that you don’t condense your reasonably-salted stock down to dehydration gravy!

Sautés

Stock can be used anywhere you need both liquid and flavour. Try adding some when cooking rice, steaming vegetables, or wilting spinach. Add a little splash to stir-fries or anything that needs thinning down; you might as well get the nutrition kick rather than use water, right?

Have fun with it, and broth on!

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lauren (475x316)Lauren Matheson is a mother, a reader, an immigrant, a seeker of patterns in chaos, and a geek for many things, including ancestral nutrition and real food, parenting and adoption, international development, breastfeeding, interculturalism, and what it means to be a human and a girl. She blogs about what she thinks and eats at Leto’s Passion.

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91 Comments so far ↓

  • Lauren

    So many things I forgot to say in there, but at the top of the list is a big thanks to Katie for the invitation! Looking forward to the comments section, everyone!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Becky

    I know this is a basic question, but what does it actually mean for broth to “gel”? I’ve been making my own stock for awhile now, but I have no idea if it gels??? Thanks for all the great tips!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    If you can scoop it out with a spoon and a hole is left behind, it’s gelled :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • AmandaZ

    I’ve taken to making my stock in a pasta pot. I just lift the pasta strainer out and it gets rid of all but the tiniest particles. I’ve never let that bother me much, although if you want really clear broth, this isn’t the method for you.

    I work full time, so I need something simple and quick, and I don’t have a dishwasher, so every extra dish is a big deal. Thus, I don’t let tiny particles in my stock bother me.

    I’ve only ever been able to get my stock to gel when I used chicken feet. Is that unusual?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    Not really; it’s the joints more than the bones that gives stock its gelatin, and therefore its gel. Feet (and skin, and cartilege) have plenty of all that.

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  • Allison

    Great post! Broth is so interesting to me and it seems I am constantly learning something new about it!

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  • Allison

    Oh shoot I forgot I did have a question! I noticed with my beef broth that after a week or so in the fridge, it starts to dull in color. It didn’t smell off, so I assumed it was ok. Have you had experience with this?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I’ve had that happen – I usually find that a soup in need of a thorough cooking shows up on my menu plan shortly thereafter :)
    How long stock keeps is certainly up for debate (and your stock, fridge, and comfort level are important here) but if you’re not likely to use as much as you’ve made in a reasonable time, freezing is a great solution.

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  • Melanie

    I’m surprised some people are having trouble getting their broth to gel. I never really thought about it because mine always gels. I wonder what it could be.

    Becky, it gels after you put it in the fridge, like jello, only mine’s never been that hard. But because it has gelatin in it it firms up when it gets cold.

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  • Annie

    great post!!! I really think mine gels (or doesn’t) depending on my ratio of gelatinous bones to water. I often use the carcass of a 3-4 lb chicken and getting even 2 quarts to gel is hard. it’s a “soft gel” often, I guess. I do get a great, firm gel when I use a few chicken feet and don’t let it boil too long. I’ve heard, though, that even if the gelatin is broken down by heat, it’s still nourishing (?). Lastly, my most recent stock making has resulted in a rancid – that’s definitely the word – smell. I wonder if I’ve let it cook too long? smells like rancid chicken fat if you can imagine that. yuck!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    Oh ew! Rancid is not good, and how frustrating for you, too! I’ve never experienced this, or come across it before (except in reference to crucifers, and apparently Julia Child says that putting a lid on cooking stock “sours” it), so I can’t say anything helpful. Hopefully someone else can though – I’d like to know!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Annie,
    Right away? Yikes, that’s never happened to me – maybe it was at an unsafe temp for too long somehow? Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Annie Reply:

    it doesn’t smell rancid right away, no, it seems to do so after simmering all night. I usually roast a bird for dinner, take off the meat, and simmer the bones. And the past couple of times I’ve noticed by the next day a rancid odor :( I roasted a 20ish lb turkey today and my 12 qt stockpot was about half full of bones so to my 4-5 qts of water I hope to get some good, gelatinous broth :) and for no rancidity, either. I’m still stumped about what could have caused it. I wonder if something about my simmer is off – too hot? I normally do cover it once I get it down to a really low simmer (bubbles seen underneath just infrequently breaking the surface) but maybe I shouldn’t? I’m not super “safe” about times so maybe too long in the “unsafe” temp zone is an issue, too? I’ve made stock for a few years though and this is a new problem for me.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Annie,
    I’m stumped! I doubt it’s unsafe just overnight…you’d need to have it be in the wrong temps and then store it a few days too to get it to go bad. How odd…I hope you conquer this issue! :) Katie

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    Lauren Reply:

    I’m stumped too, sorry. I know that some vegetables can give an off smell, but you’ve only mentioned bones. Your simmering temperature sounds the same as mine. I’ll keep an eye out for tips for you. Good luck!

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    Audrey Reply:

    It might be your burner. I alwas cooked my bone broth overnight and sometimes let it keep going for another day. Then a couple batches smelled rancid and made me uneasy, so I tossed them. Finally decided to try another burner and it was back to normal. Put a pot of water on the back burner, brought it to a boil and turned it down to simmer. When I checked it a few hours later, it was cold!

    [Reply to this comment]

    sarah Reply:

    You know that just recently happened to me, I cooked my chicken bones too long & they smelled awful – rancid like. I think its the cooking time

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  • Joy

    My Dad was telling me that one way to eliminate the need to skim is to bring the water to boil which brings out the scum. Dump that first batch of water along with the yucky scum and start with fresh water again with the pre-cooked meat. The broth still turns out beautiful without the need to skim! Has anyone else tried that?

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    Lauren Reply:

    I have only heard of that in reference to raw pork, to get rid of the blood that would otherwise make the stock sour. My only thought is that the heat liquifies the gelatin, so I’d worry about losing that. But if it works, don’t fix it!
    A variation on your dad’s theme would be to take the meat off the bones at that point, save it to add to the soup later, and put the rest back on with fresh water.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joy Reply:

    Where does the gelatin come out from? I’m assuming the bones. Is that correct? Thanks!

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    Lauren Reply:

    It’s from the joints and skin (apparently commercial gelatin is made from pig and cow hide) and it does good things for our joints and skin. Nature is cool like that!
    If you’re making stock from ingredients you bought just for stock, be sure to get a good number of joints with your marrow bones. If you’re making it from a carcass the “joint juices” may be in the meat you’ve already eaten, so the stock might not gel as well. BUT it’ll have that delicious roasted bird taste instead :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Julie

    Great post, my last broth came out liquidy so I got some good tips to try again! I think I added too much water. Anyways, I wanted to note that I have read several places that broth is only good 2-3 days in your fridge! It is not a stable product meant to last a long time. I use mine up and freeze the rest. I also freeze in ice cube trays and then put them out into a large plastic bag that just stays in my freezer. This method is pretty awesome because then I always have easily accessable broth by the ice cube!

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  • Lauren

    Julie, you’re absolutely right that it’s not meant to last. Usually in my house it doesn’t, so it’s a non-issue, but I should have made it more clear that *I* have used stock into its third week – but that doesn’t mean everyone should, or all the time!

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  • Eta

    Whats the ratio of broth cubes to actual product? How many would you put in a batch of soup per serving? What about gravies and sautes?

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    Lauren Reply:

    It depends how much you like the people you’re feeding LOL! Sometimes I’ll use only stock for the liquid, it depends on how strong a taste that batch has, how strong I want that flavour in my soup to be, and how thin a soup I want. (Same goes for sautes.) Tonight’s soup was carrot ginger with fish stock, no added water; I used a whole bowl of sliced carrots and about 12 cubes of stock, added coconut milk just before blending and it made a nice thick soup with just a hint of fish taste.
    Gravy can take up a lot of stock, but it depends on the recipe. There’s a ratio table in one of the gravy links that tells you how much stock etc you need for X number of people. (I admit that I haven’t used her recipes, but it looked like a handy resource to include.)

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    Katie Reply:

    Eta,
    I find about 4-5 cubes is 1/2 cup, but best way would be to measure liquid broth as you’re filling the cubes, since I’m sure ice trays are different.
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Emily Winer

    I have been using chicken feet to make stock in my crockpot. While the resultant chickeny goodness does set up into a soft gel, it is nowhere near as firm as yours. You expressed concern with regards to temperatures in slowcookers. I leave mine on Low for the entire cooking process, but do you feel that even at low, my stock may not be as firm due the temperature?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    My crock pot boils on low. If yours doesn’t, then your most likely culprit is too much water. Chicken feet are tricky to break down manually, but I’d try to get them as low in the crock as possible to minimise the amount of water needed to cover them. And I confess: I often do not completely cover the bones at first, but give them a good hard stir once they’re cooked a bit so they settle lower into the water. That was also a 48-hour stock; one of the links I gave above said never to let chicken stock go for longer than 12 hours, but I have to wonder if time helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Emily Winer Reply:

    I don’t think my crockpot boils on Low. The culprit may definitely be too much water. I do let it go for 36+ hours. I will back off on the water. I think I just get frustrated not getting very much stock after all that time!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I know the feeling; as well as the stock in that picture gelled, I was a little miffed that I only got half a jar’s worth! (Mind you, I’d had a few mugs full beforehand.)
    Think of it this way: if the problem is water then it’s the same amount of nutrition whether it gels or not. The only difference is whether you dilute it now or later.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Emily Winer Reply:

    Ah! Glad to know I am not the only one feeling “shorted” in the amount produced!

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    Dawn Reply:

    It seems that newer slow cookers are hotter. Once up to temp, look to see whether it is slowly simmering or rapidly bubbling — or take the temp. Most new cookers are over 212 F on the low setting. I ended up buying a small 6 qt. Nesco oven with a dial thermostat. I now can accurately control the temp, unlike with my slow cookers.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Emily Winer Reply:

    Very good idea! I will check the temp next time. What temperature should I want my stock to cook? My crockpot is ~15+ years old, but I love it!

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    Dawn Reply:

    I think you’d want a simmer, which would be about 200 F.

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  • Megan

    Great refresher course! Thank you! I usually use a mesh strainer over a jar funnel over 1/2 gallon mason jars. It leaves particles, but I don’t mind.

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  • Mrs. Mac

    I make a similar rich broth with roasted beef bones. It really does make my joints feel great! I often serve small one cup servings heated with sliced scallions before meals. Plain soup! Good for you!

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  • Laurel

    Just to add a few more ideas about what to do with your stock, I use it in spaghetti sauce, chili, and stew and it tastes great!

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  • leah

    I use my homemade stock in everything that I possibly can. When I cook beans in it and take them to potluck dinners, I get remarks like “now that’s what beans are supposed to taste like!” You can’t beat the flavor of real food!

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  • Melissa @ Dyno-mom

    This is such a critical post, Katie! It is amazing to me how many people do not understand the very necessary role of bone broth and are afraid to try it. I think I read on Twitter that you read you could use the bones THREE times? Can you tell me more about that? We use it constantly at our house and it would be even more economical to be able to make more from the same bones.

    I am a slow cooker user for bone broth. Personally, it is a necessary fact that I need the real estate on the stove. I use BIG pots cooking for twelve and can’t dedicate the space to make stock. Also, I have a gas stove and leaving it on that long kinda freaks me out. I would be waiting for a kiddo to come along and stick her finger in the flame! Anyone else have trouble with leaving the stove on?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Melissa,
    I am trying my first multi-batch right now – the first two times in the slow cooker worked fine! No gel, but it boils way too high. Point is, there’s something in that there broth! ;) I’m labeling the second run “2nds”, and we’ll see tomorrow night how the third goes. It’s def. easy, just strain and dump right back in! Here’s where I read about it: http://www.traditional-foods.com/bone-broth/

    I just leave the stove on usually…but my kids aren’t tall enough yet for flame poking. ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kassia Reply:

    Ok, silly question. I just made a batch from our rotisserie chicken from last night, and I was going to use the bones for a second batch. Can I put back in the little scraps of meat and skin, or do I need to pick the bones completely clean? My bones are starting to disintegrate already anyway, but I don’t want to miss any good stuff in the bits around the joints. And is it a problem that my first batch is not clear? It tastes ok, just looks very cloudy.

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    Lauren Reply:

    Not silly at all! Yes, use what you have, and, no, cloudy is not really a problem. It might have cooked too hot or not been completely filtered, but that’s not a problem.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kassia Reply:

    It definitely may be that mine cooked too hot. I got up this morning to find it at a high simmer. It’s a little hard to regulate the temp while you’re sleeping. :-/ Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kassia,
    I’m probably a little late for this batch, but there aren’t really a lot of rules here. If you want to USE the chicken, you’ll want to get it out of there, yes. But if you don’t care about every little piece, then it won’t hurt your stock any. The cloudiness will get you kicked out of the kitchen at a 5-star restaurant, but it doesn’t mean anything nutritionally. ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kassia

    Thank you so much for this post! I had been reading about bone broth on KS for awhile, but did not know what to do or how to go about it. I just pulled my first batch off the stove! One question though: I had read about condensing it so that it takes up less space in the freezer, but I don’t want to overheat it and break down the good stuff. Mine is made from a smoked turkey carcass, and is starting to gel on top as it cools. Thoughts?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I’m glad you liked it, Kassia! Congratulations on jumpingon the broth wagon :)
    I tend to freeze half and refrigerate half. To reduce it only needs to be hot enough to steam, so a low simmer would do it, but I’m generally impatient to get the chicken smell out of my kitchen and skip it! If you do your stock in an open pot on the stove, it will reduce during the cooking on its own.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kassia Reply:

    That’s a good tip. I had the lid on the whole time, and probably used too much water. But it’s great to see the gel even in the bowl I used to strain it…it always thought it was fat before and tried to get rid of it! Lol…how far I’ve come!

    And you want to talk about smell…I will never do a smoked turkey carcass again. It will take days to get that smell out of my house…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I roasted a duck. Once. :P A friend swears she’ll only ever do dick again if her husband builds her an outdoor oven!

    Re fat: Once the stock is fully cooled (and gelled :) ) the fat will create a hard layer on top. If you’ve used a less-than-stellar bird, you can skim the fat at that point really easily. With organic, free-range birds, leave it on!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    DUCK! D*U*CK!!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kassia Reply:

    LOL! ;)

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. You have been so helpful. What an easy way to nourish my family. Can’t wait to start making my own chicken stock!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jassica Reply:

    OK, now that I’ve stopped laughing…
    …..just a thought on the fat layer on top. I think if you’re going to keep the stock in the refrigerator, it’s best to keep the fat on it until you’re ready to use it. I think it would keep out air and nasties that might want to spoil your stock. Then, you can use the fat or not. I prefer it in soups because it makes it richer and more satisfying and compliments the stock quite nicely.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    Brought tears to my eyes, that did. Too funny!

    Anyway, I make quite a lot of stock, always gels enough to make a noise when I spoon some out – love that. I have heard that keeping a layer of fat makes it last longer, but I render the fat for cooking.

    I strain my stock through a spare permanent coffee filter into the storage jars or a smaller measuring pitcher to get the last little bits out. And I have pressure canned it – this year, but haven’t used it yet until I get through what’s taking space in the freezer.

    I also reduce the stock by about half before I put it away. The one thing I’m never really happy with is that it always seems bland. I have never added salt but hear that may be the problem. When I make an actual soup, I do, along with the other ingredients. About a week ago DH bought a can of commercial big chunk chicken noodle soup for an immediate lunch and shared it with one of the kids. The verdict was that homemade was better, more chicken-y. Now they want homemade noodles!

    I’m also curious about the skimming part. Sometimes I get a grayish brown froth on the surface and remove that, but sometimes there is nothing. What is it, and why is it sometimes there, not other times? Does the vinegar help get that out? That’s one part I don’t always do, not sure if there has been a direct connection.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I’ve hear the froth referred to as “toxins” but I’ve not encountered a more scientific explanation than that. I’m not sure how biological compounds are supposed to self-segregate based on whether a human should eat them or not! If I find out something more, I’ll post it.

    For blandness, you could try roasting the bones/ meat first, or adding a bay leaf and some peppercorns to the stock a few hours before it finishes, or try the saved-up-peelings trick.

    You may or may not be pleased to know that homemade pasta is actually quite easy, and something that kids can make.

    (If there are any typos in here, I really, really didn’t mean them!!)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Karen,
    Two quick notes:
    I’ve heard “always skim” both with beans and broth, and my favorite farmer says the more gunk there is on top, the less “clean” the bird was raised. That would support the “toxins” and junk theory, which comes back to “always skim.” Hope that helps! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    Thanks, Katie. I have just started a new pot, and the kids came in to say it smelled good, even though we just ate. I am using the skin and bones from some marked down breasts from the store today. They aren’t organic or anything beyond ordinary chicken breasts and when I had a look there was no scum on the top. I’ll check again in a while.

    I did a Google search and found a “Ricardo” who has a show on the food network (I know…) and he says it is coagulated water soluble proteins. In the Joy of Cooking it says that you skim the “albuminous material before the first half hour of cooking” if you want a clear soup, but that some nutritionists advise against skimming if you are using the stock for a brown sauce. In the section on clarifying stock, they suggest adding slightly beaten egg white and crushed eggshell which causes a “heavy crusty foam”, and you push this to one side and ladle the stock out through the cleared space.

    I am going to skim, if there is anything to skim, but I wonder what the actual science is.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jill

    With making stock in a crock pot, is there concern of anything undesirable leeching out from the crock into the stock? Like lead or anything? I’m afraid to try using my crock pot because I don’t want any chemicals leeching into my stock, so I always use my big soup pot, but don’t let it cook for much longer than 6 hours… I’d like to try using my crock pot because it would be more hands-off, and that would be very helpful!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I think the issue of lead leaching is not limited to stock. Cheeseslave posted about this and concluded that Hamilton Beach was your best bet in the US, because they made some statement about lead control and backed it up by domestic production. The other option (check out the Nourishing Gourmet for a giveaway right now!) is the Vitaclay, which doubles as a rice cooker and has a delay timer.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Deb

    I’ve been wanting to make some stock again, I did some last year but haven’t had time since then. I would like to know if anyone can’s theirs, I know it probably wouldn’t be quite as good for you, but I just don’t have the freezer space to make a big batch and freeze it…or the time to do it to often, so I’d rather make a large batch of it and then can it. It’s got to still be better for you than what you buy….doesn’t it? Any thoughts on canning it? Thanks for the post! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Deb,
    Lots of people can their stock, and I’m thinking it shouldn’t hurt it one bit, nourishment wise. Go for it! Just make sure you have a pressure canner and follow some real directions as far as timing. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker

    Great post! Could you tell me what is the correct way to store stock in glass jars in the freezer? That’s how I’ve been doing it so far, with no mess–but now I’m a little worried! Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    Thank, Erin! There is a food blogger to whom I subscribe who does this, but of course now I can’t remember who it is. The link in the post takes you to a chat string about it, with various people’s methods. I’d say that if your method is working, don’t fix it!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Barbara Grant

    Non-gauze disk milk filters, available at farm stores, are great for straining broth.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sharing Sunday - November 20, 2011 | Miss Organic's Kitchen

    [...] thought to making your own turkey broth from the carcass?  Kitchen Stewardship has a great post on making bone broth that will come in handy for the day after [...]

  • Telitha Anderson

    My way of draining — I start by putting all my “stuff” in a deep fryer basket (well, it’s like an aluminum pan with holes more than a basket) that fits in my pot. I got it from an old electric frying pan. I’m not sure what it was SUPPOSED to be used for, but it just lifts most of the stuff out when I’m done cooking. It works GREAT! Saves time anda lot of digging out bits and pieces and a lot of dangerous pouring from place to place with bits and pieces falling around. Once the cooked bird and plants are out, pouring the liquid is a lot easier.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    That sounds like a VERY clever solution! That would be a good use for any asparagus steamer or spaghetti basket that someone might have around and otherwise rarely use. I have a steamer pot insert thingie that would be great, but unfortunately it came from some other set and doesn’t fit ANY of my current pots!

    You’re not using your repurposed basket constantly or with acidic foods so it’s not such a concern, but I’ll put this summary on aluminum up there for anyone who’s reading along: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/08/21/food-for-thought-why-analyze-aluminum/

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Deb

    Thanks Katie! Yes I have a pressure canner, love my canner, it’s so much nicer than the one my Mom had when I was growing up…that one scared me. LOL

    I cooked my turkey early this year, because it makes for less cleanup on Thanksgiving…so I can actually have some of the afternoon to ENJOY myself. (I might not do that if we were having a big family get together, with plenty of cleanup help…but since it’s just us and a friend or two I do it early.) So….I’ve got my first batch of stock in the crockpot now! Think I’ll do at least one more batch, with the bones, if not try for a third. Thanks for the push (and reminder) to use the bones for stock!! :-))

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Traci

    Thank you so much! I just cooked my turkey, and reduced the liquid down to 2 cups from 2 quarts. It’s concentrated, easy to store and as firm as any Jello I’ve had. Thanks for the tip on breaking the bones- can’t wait to use it!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • SaundraCounce

    Alton Brown explains a lot:
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=531v0T_LD1E
    Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpnJsclfUj4&feature=related

    I bake thigh/leg quarters…pull the meat.
    Toss the meat in when ready to eat…
    otherwise it falls apart.

    Cover the cooked bones w/water; simmer 12h & strain. Makes great gel…because the bones are
    cooked and softened…and good flavor too.

    Seems I’ve read to bring to a boil, cool,
    and refrigerate again if not used within
    two-weeks.

    Great thread and pictures.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jill

    What, if anything, can be done with the layer of fat that hardens on the top of the broth once cooled? Can it be scooped off, and used for sautéing, for example, or for other things? Do I have to do anything to it before using it (if it can be used)?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jill,
    If your chicken was raised cleanly, you bet you can scoop and use the fat! Just like it is, or just leave it in for immune boosting properties. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Debby Reply:

    I’ve just found that the beef tallow that I scooped off of my 48-hours cooked bone broth makes a fantastic skin moisturizer ! My hands were already showing signs of the dryness that happens once the heat in the house comes on, and today they are soft and smooth… all from the beef tallow! Debby

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katherine

    I’m surprised that you discourage people from using cabbage to boil! Cabbages do smell a bit funky when they boil, but they are full of awesome vitamins – C, sulphur, beta kerotene, and folic acid to name a few. Cabbage broth can help you detoxify your colon and prevent colon cancer, ease and heal stomach ulcers, soothe gout, eczema, and arthritis…..I think you should give cabbage a second chance!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    As a tonic or soup unto itself, I’m sure it’s great (I’ve also read that a tonic from potato peelings is great after giving birth) but it’s not really the kind of taste *I* want in my all-purpose soup base!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    I thought that I would also throw in that you shouldn’t use mushrooms as something extra to throw in fo rnutrients (which maybe most people wouldn’t even think of, since its not a vegetable). I did after Thanksgiving and completely ruined my stock. I mean, maybe it was still edible, but completely funky looking AND smelling. I had a layer of something that refused to leave, even though I would continuously skim it off.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Shawna Lee

    I do not like a “fatty” broth. Can you skim the fat off and still get a broth with gel? Or should I skim the fat after it’s chilled?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    Fatty broth retains heat like nobody’s business, making it a guaranteed mouth-burner. Once it’s chilled, the fat solidifies into a layer on top of the broth and you can lift it off – much easier than skimming hot broth! If it’s from a trusted source, you can reserve the fat for cooking. We’ve found that tallow from beef or lamb is nicer over green beans than butter, for example.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • GrandmaGirl

    My Daughter passed on 2 tips from Alton Brown. Strain the scum using a brand new fish net that you reserve just for this purpose. Also for those of us using very large pots (mine is 3 gal) which are too heavy to move when full – Get a piece of water line and siphon the somewhat cooled stock into jars.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • How to Make Bone Broth with Serious Gel {GUEST POST} | Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition | Established Health

    [...] How to Make Bone Broth with Serious Gel {GUEST POST} | Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach t…. [...]

  • Ingredient Spotlight: Gelatin | Modern Alternative Kitchen

    [...] great source of gelatin is homemade bone broth. This is a great base for making your soups taste even more [...]

  • Christiana

    I was hoping someone could answer my question! I use TONS of stock, and am starting to get into the habit of having a mug each day. I would love to pressure can it to free up room in my freezer. Does anyone know if that would destroy all the healthful nutrients and gelatin??? Thanks! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Christiana,
    Sorry I let your question get so buried, yikes! I’m fairly certain canning broth is not a problem for the nutrients – some say that the gelatin is broken down over high heat, BUT I’ve boiled the heck out of my broth sometimes and it still gels. I’d can a batch, following official directions, if I were you, then refrigerate and see if it gels the same (refrig first to see if you got gel initially). :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nance

    Thanks for the instructions. Several additional ideas:
    -I use fresh lemon juice instead of vinegar to help break down the cartilage and bones. Same pH, better smell.
    -When using the broth and it’s hot, I test with a tiny bit of baking soda. If it bubbles wildly, I add more soda to bring the pH back up so it isn’t sour. I count the soda as part of the salt.
    -Once I refrigerate the finished broth, fragments settle at the bottom. I just compost that part when scraping out the rest of the gelatin/broth.
    -Once finished with the bones, they make great bonemeal for the garden. No waste!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nance,
    I’m totally fascinated by the bonemeal thing – do you have to blend them up before adding to the soil, or what? That’s awesome!!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nance

    I throw the bones into the compost pile in whatever shape they’re in after making the broth. They break down further, and after several times, I can crush them with my hands or a brick. I include the bone fragments or dust with the finished compost. Great for the plants!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Karen Lo

    How long does it normally take for broth to actually gel? I was disappointed that one batch didn’t gel – only to find it congealed (soft) on the 2nd day. I am looking forward to the day when I’ve finally figured out the perfect broth process! :)

    Great post…thanks for your help!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Karen,
    It generally does have to cool completely – :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lauren

    If it’s going to gel, mine usually does when it’s fully cool. In most cases that’s after it’s been in the fridge overnight. After a week or so the gel starts to melt, but can be perked up with a brief rolling boil if you want to keep it longer. No gel at all is usually either a problem of too much water (you can condense it further and see if that helps) or too high heat.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kris A. Kramer

    I’ve heard so much about the gel. Sounds like that’s what is the most nutritious part. Yet, I’ve read to remove the gel. Would that mean remove and only eat the gel–not the broth? I’m thinking of just eating it all together. Thoughts?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    I’ve never come across the suggestion to remove the gel, and I can’t work out the logic… maybe it’s a fat-phobic spill-over? I’m also not sure how you would do it, since it’s not a “part” of the stock, but a property of it; that would be like skimming the coldness from the ice cream! There are many things in broth that both taste and do good, gelatin being only one of them, which is why it’s worth making and cooking with even if it’s not gelling for one reason or another. Any leftover sauce, dripping or gravy from a bone-in, slow-cooked meal is instant BAM! in a quick meal later. I’ve got a roasted chicken carcass coming up to heat in my cast iron pot right now, as I type, and we’ll be having cream of mushroom soup with duck stock (from Sunday dinner) tonight for supper. Leftover lamb shank sauce will be the basis of tomorrow’s lunch stew, and this pot of chicken stock will be ready tomorrow so there’s always some in the fridge – especially important as yesterday we had our first SNOW and both kids have runny noses!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Paloma

    You can get chicken feet at nearly any Asian market that has a meat counter….. I always buy mine at Ranch 99, for $0.99/lb. The claws look creepy but makes the best stock ever!!!!

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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