How to Make Nourishing Bone Broth to Heal Gut and Skin

I know I’ve been talking about bone broth for a long time now, so finally – here are the instructions (and a video)!

What is Bone Broth, and Why Do I Want to Make It?

You know what broth is, right? The flavourful liquid in soups that, unfortunately, is usually made with water and fake flavour cubes?

Well back in the olden days, people made their own broth and that was done by boiling meat and bones and other random animal parts in order to extract the nutrients into the water and flavour it. Turns out that not only does it taste good, it’s incredibly healing (that’s right – chicken soup really does cure colds).

The broth contains easily absorbable forms of minerals we need – calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfer and numerous trace minerals. Not only that, but it also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine from the tendons and cartilage, which help with joint pain and arthritis. It also contains a substance called gelatin which has its own magical healing properties.

Gelatin in particular is fantastic for healing the digestive system, and if you have acne troubles, you more than likely have got some digestive stuff going on that could use some help. So bone broth is your friend. 

From the WAPF website:

The French were the leaders in gelatin research, which continued up to the 1950s. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Even the epicures recognized that broth-based soup did more than please the taste buds. “Soup is a healthy, light, nourishing food” said Brillant-Savarin, “good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion.”

My Video on How to Make Bone Broth

Written Instructions:

  1. Gather bones together from any animal you wish. You can get these from the meat you eat (save them in a bag in the freezer, till you have enough), the butcher, or a farmer. Grass fed and/or organic is preferred, and they can be raw, or cooked. Some people say roasted give the broth more flavour, so they like to put their raw bones in the oven for a half hour or so before hand. You can use clean bones, but some with a bit of meat on it is best, and so are joint bones, and other bits of animal that have lots of gelatin in them – like chicken, beef, or pig feet.
  2. Place in large stock pot or slow cooker, such as a Hamilton Beach one (because they’re supposedly lead free). Pour water into it until it almost covers the bones. At this point, you can add veggie scraps for your more flavour if you wish, such as onions, leeks, celery. Try to avoid carrots or beets or sugary vegetables as it gives it a weird flavour. I’m usually too lazy to do this, and prefer to just flavour it afterwards.
  3. Add a tablespoon of acidic medium – I usually use apple cider vinegar, but any vinegar will do, or fresh lemon juice. This helps to break down and draw the nutrients out of the bones.
  4. Let soak in the cold water for a half hour to an hour.
  5. If it’s a slow cooker, turn it on to low, put the lid on and let er go. If you’re doing it on the stove in your stockpot, bring it almost to a boil and then turn it down to low so that it isn’t boiling, just simmering a lightly as possible. You don’t want to boil it if you can help it. Lid on or lid off, doesn’t matter… lid off will result in a very concentrated broth which is good if you are short on space. Lid on will retain the water. I prefer lid on.
  6. For chicken or small bones, you can go anywhere from 3 to 4 hours to 24 hours (not longer). Beef or larger bones, you can go from 3 or 4 up to three days! The longer you go, the more minerals get leached from the bones. On the other hand, there is some controversy over whether the longer cooking time breaks down the gelatin, which I’ll talk about below.
  7. After it’s done, strain the whole concoction with a strainer and a pot, or however you want to work that. At that point, you can throw the bones and scraps away if you wish, and store the broth (put it in airtight containers in the fridge, or freezer it for later. Will stay good for a week or so in the fridge). HOWEVER, I suggest that instead of just throwing everything away that you pick off all the meat and soft tissue that is now easily falling off the bones. You can use that stuff!! Once it’s cooled down, pick off the meat and soft tissue and put it aside for eating or adding to soup. You can also break the crumbling bones and eat the bone marrow too (VERY NUTRITIOUS!)
  8. An alternative to straining the whole thing, which can be a little tricky and annoying, is get a slotted spoon and scoop out the bones and meat into a big bowl. When it’s cooled, pick off the meat and throw the meat back into the broth and immediately make a soup with it. Add vegetables, seasoning, and whatever else you want and cook a while longer. Throw the bones away, or you can even grind them up in a blender, and save that.  Add tablespoons of the grinded bones to soups or ground beef or your garden for extra nutrition.
  9. Uses for bone broth: anything. Use it for soup, drink it like a tea (I love this), use it in place of any cooking water (like in rice, for example) – add it to anything you can think of for extra flavour and nutrition!

The Gelling Up Controversy

So, it’s kind of like an unspoken goal in bone broth making circles that you want your broth to turn to gel when it cools. It’s like the sign of a good broth, because it shows the presence of all the gelatin.

Well, I have a secret to confess – I can’t seem to get my bone broth to gel!!!

Maybe if there’s any bone broth vets out there, you can give me some tips. Why is it not gelling? From what I can tell, it seems like one of these mysterious things that half of the people get perfect gel every time without even thinking about it, and other people can never do it. And SOME people get gel half the time and the other time none even though they did the exact same thing with the exact same bones!!

The first couple of times I ever made bone broth, which was last summer, it gelled. Ever since then, never. NEVER GELLED! Whyyyyy.

I have some theories:

  1. Thinking about it too much somehow jinxes you
  2. Using too much water dilutes the gel. So it’s not so much that there isn’t gelatin, just that it’s diluted so it doesn’t get all jelly like.
  3. Boiling it too much breaks down the gelatin
  4. You’re not using enough joint bones and gelatin rich parts
  5. It’s cooked too long and the gelatin has broken down

I feel like I’m doing numbers 2 – 4 right (at least nothing different than the first times I tried it). The 4th possibility may be my suspect one… the first times I made bone broth when it did gel, I only cooked it for 3 or 4 hours. Every time since, I’ve cooked them a lot longer. And this goes with what I have heard is that a shorter cooking time is better for gelatin, and a longer cooking time is better for minerals.

So maybe the best way to do this whole thing is cook it for 3 or 4 hours, strain it, add more water, and then cook the bones for another 20 or however many hours. That way you get the best of both worlds. I’m going to have to keep doing some experimenting.

Either Way, I Gave up Caring About Gel

I really wanted it to gel, but when I couldn’t get the gel, I gave up caring too much. Whatever you made in that stock or crockpot is dang good for you, so even if it’s not perfect – drink up!

Have you made bone broth yet? If so, can you get it to gel? What are your gelling conspiracy theories? 

photo by Johnny Stiletto

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Comments

  1. Caitlin Grace says

    I am so glad you said that about gelling! The first couple of times mine gelled but not once since then ( even though I feel like I am doing everything the same!!) In fact I read this just to find out what I was doing wrong. Ah well I’m off to make another batch and it will be great gell or not!

    • Tracy says

      Agh, I’ve just totally given up on the gel thing. I’m sure one day it will gel out of nowhere and I’ll have no idea why! And every time I try to read about why it’s not gelling, everyone has completely different theories. I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to it. and that broth that didn’t gel is still excellent :)

  2. sarah says

    i’ve only had mine gel once…i have no idea why it doesn’t…i think it’s because i don’t use enough joints etc….oh well, like you said it’s still really good for us!

  3. anna allen says

    I always add a tablespoon of so of vinegar, and always gels. :) also mightbe too diluted, take the lid off theast couple hours.

  4. says

    I cook mine in a pressure cooker. I use about 5 lbs of beef bones (always joints) in the pot. I’m not exactly sure how large the pressure cooker is but it’s a full size one. I cook it for 4 hours then let it sit in the pot until it cools off (sometimes a few hours, sometimes the next day). It’s always gelled up for me that way. Oh, and I use a tablespoon or two of ACV too.

  5. Martine says

    Maybe try letting the bones sit for a while in cold water. I’ve heard it helps somehow? At least, don’t drop them right into boiling water or anything, but you probably already knew that!

    With chicken stock I’ve had my best luck using carcasses that still have a good amount of meat on them; not all of it but some! My luck isn’t so good when I’ve gnawed down on a pre-roasted chicken unfortunately.

    • Tracy says

      Yep, I do that too :/ As for the carcasses with a lot of meat…. one time I tried doing the entire raw chicken, and it STILL didn’t gel!!

      Although, I do have a secret weapon in my freezer…. a couple of pig feet!!! If it doesn’t gel after that…. I just don’t know what to say.

      • Martine says

        hmmmm, I also heard a higher concentration of bones to water helps–kind of how not putting too much water in jello tends to work better, hehe

        Good luck with the pig’s feet! Wish I could track some of those down.

  6. Ali says

    Tracy I just made my first batch of bone broth! I started it saturday night and I will be taking it off the stove right after I type this, so it will be 48 hours since I started it!
    I did roast my bones beforehand. My family is hating me for the smell and I will probably never hear the end of it! I think they are being dramatic! :) If only they knew how good it is for the body! Let’s see after it cools if it gels…I will let you know!

    • Tracy says

      Well, there’s a farm I sometimes go to that has a little … hut… with a fridge and a freezer, and you pay by the honour system (lol, it’s awesome)… and last time I went by there, they had a lot of bones and random stuff in the freezer, so I snapped that up. And they also had some pig feet!!! you don’t know how excited I was.

  7. Ali says

    Okay so I just cooled mine in the fridge in the pot I cooked it in. I heard after it cools, skim the fat off, then place it in the mason jars. I did that, because I probably just plan on drinking the broth…would you recommend freezing that fat on top I took off to use when I sautee veggies and such?

    • Tracy says

      Yep, don’t throw it away, you can definitely use it for cooking, although I usually just leave the fat with the broth, I don’t mind drinking it with the broth when you heat it up

    • Tracy says

      Yeah, it will, they’re full of gelatin. But I donno where to get chicken feet in Powell River…. althouuuugh… I have not been to the butcher yet to ask them what they could hook me up in the ways of random animal parts so I will have to do that. The farmers market is starting this weekend too, so I might question some farmers there.

  8. Laura says

    I collected chicken bones over a period of a few weeks and then finally made broth for the first time about 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, I don’t have a slow cooker or crockpot at the moment so I had to leave it cooking in a regular pot which was probably not ideal!
    I think I used a bit to much ACV as well, I really didn’t like the taste or smell too much. Anyway, that could just be down to using an unsuitable pot :)
    There’s always next time!

  9. Corley says

    I literally JUST finished making my first-ever batch of bone broth from some grass-fed beef bones (and a li’l meat) I bought at my butcher. Simmered in that good ol’ Hamilton Beach slow cooker for about 48 hours, and in the last two hours added in some red onion, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, celery, rosemary, and thyme. Can’t wait to start drinking it – I plan on trying to just always have some on-hand (also want to try chicken, pork, and fish) so I can drink it regularly, and I think next week I’m going to do a Candida Cleanse/Colon Cleanse and just drink broth to keep me sustained. Really, really hoping it helps clear my skin up, ’cause I know I have some digestive issues. Thanks for the post, Tracy!

  10. Michaela says

    Hi
    We make bone broth may be twice a week it is very traditional here. Also the kind of bone broth that is very very gelatinous and it is eaten cold by spoon with vinegar and onion. You have to put more skin and joint the best is from pork like knee from pork. That what my dad is made from all the time of course you can add any other meat but when you want really gelatinous consistency than pork knee with all skin. and cook for 4-5hours(cooking time does not make different when you overcooked)

    • Tracy says

      About a week… although I would never throw it away unless it smelled bad. If you just boil it when you reheat it, it should be fine

  11. Erin says

    Hi Tracy,
    Maybe a silly question but is it OK to leave raw meat bones sitting out in cold water for an hour before you start cooking? Nervous about trying that part.

  12. says

    When you asked if you say “out” like a Canadian, I literally said out loud as if you could hear me, “YES!” because I’ve been thinking that you sound Canadian every time I watch one of your videos. LOL

    • Tracy says

      Lol, before I started making videos (and started going out with my Aussie boyfriend who makes fun of it for me), I would have sworn up and down I didn’t say out like a Canadian! hhaha… but I guess I was wrong

  13. says

    Hi Tracey,
    I so enjoy your videos and blog…even if I don’t have an acne problem. I really don’t…but it helps me have an understanding for those who do. I just can’t imagine jumping out of bed in the morning and running to the mirror and checking to see if the break out looked better.
    Anyway, the last video I watched you did the broth, and I laughed when you had your technical difficulties…I guess I get way to stressed out in cooking and I wish I could just laugh and have a good time when “technical difficulties” come up:)
    My request is…can you do a video on how to bake a chicken? I seem to dry mine out…or I am afraid they won’t get done enough and I am going to have to treat myself for some strange food sickness….like trichinosis or something.
    Okay…again, thanks for the super fun blog.
    Oh, one more video I like is when you watched your brothers dog..and you put him down and he got up on the bed and sat their like a little toy dog..he was so cute. I am almost inspired to set up a camera and do some videos for my blog.
    Take care…Kristin

    • Tracy says

      Hi Kristin,
      My chicken baking method is not very exact – if it’s a small chicken, 1 hour and ten minutes at 375. If it’s a bigger chicken, like.. maybe… 1 hour and 20 minutes. The trick is that when you take it out of the oven, let it sit for ten minutes before cutting it.

      Mine comes out juicy and tender all the time… I don’t take its temperature though. Maybe that’s bad, but I have never gotten sick

  14. Jen says

    Tracy,

    I just made my own homemade chicken broth the other day in my crockpot and the flavor was SO much better than boxed (which I usually do, organic “free range” chicken broth). However, I experienced extreme bloating/gas/other “bathroom situations” that I had never had otherwise when eating broth based soups. Id this because the homemade broth is so rich my digestive system isn’t used to it? I feel so bloated Im not even hungry at my regular meal times and my stomach aches. Is this normal?

    Also, sort of off topic, yet still about food…I recently went on a gluten/dairy free diet approx. 3 weeks ago, initially my acne cleared up within a weeks time, now I’m having many more breakouts than even before going GF/DF. Is this a detox phase? Im thinking of reintroducing gluten since I feel there has been no progress.

    Thank you for your insight!

    Jen

    • Tracy says

      Hi Jen – well, broth is so healing that it’s a good chance it’s a detoxy type reaction.. and I have heard it can be quite concentrated for some people. I’d give it a chance, but if after a while its not improving then may as well stop. Same with GF/DF… it might be a detox reaction, but I can’t say. If you don’t feel it was beneficial then do what you feel best about.

  15. Caye says

    As a vegetarian, I actually have a veg-friendly version of this that I’ve been using for some time. I wanted to share in case anyone’s interested in using this instead of or in addition to bone broth.

    I save the scraps from the vegetables I prepare: carrot and cucumber/zucchini/eggplant peels, the hard/inedible white part of cabbage, broccoli “tree trunks,” celery ends and leaves, sweet potato skins, parsley stems – whatever you have, really. Then I boil it all in a pot of water with a dash of salt for an hour or two. The vitamins, minerals and nutrients seep into the water and become broth. Strain out the rinds, peels and pulp, then drink it hot, save it for a couple days in the fridge or freeze it for reheating (can freeze in an ice cube tray for use in recipes).

    I love this for making soup, or to drink straight on cold winter days or if I’m queasy and don’t feel much like food. Hope it helps someone!

  16. Diane says

    Hi….new at this…. but was wondering if bones and veggies that were used to flavor broth be put in blender and eaten as a thickened soup. Sounds gross but ? Nutritious .

    • Tracy says

      I’m not entirely sure if eating the bones is a good idea – I think I tried to look that up once and couldn’t find a definitive answer.

  17. says

    Pork hocks/pigs feet will help a lot for a good thick gelatin. I find chicken bones never make a very good gel when used alone. It does gel but not as well as pork hocks or joint bones. I always cook my bone broths from 4-24 hours and it always gels. Sometimes I use ACV, sometimes not. The biggest difference in a good gel is the type of bones, cartilage, skin. Use it all. Too much water will also not gel. Start with water covering bones and just keep it topped up.

  18. Patty says

    Hi Tracy,
    So I made bone broth two nights ago and ::drum roll:: it gelled! It’s possible I just had beginner’s luck but my guess is it’s because I used huge beef joint bones (huge!) and I put in 1/4 cup apple cider and half a lemon and let it sit for an hour before (I know you do all of the above, I just put in some extra basically and can’t even taste it).

    I also added 10 sprigs thyme, 2 rosemary, 4 garlic cloves cut in half, and halved a giant onion. I lightly simmered on stove for 3 hours with the top on.

    I’m drinking it now like tea and love it and am realizing that a year ago I wouldn’t believe I’d be the type but thanks to your site I’m continuing to make serious improvements in my
    health and feel so good.

    I said it a ton but thanks so much for your guidance Tracy :)

    • Tracy says

      Hi Patty!
      Yay! Gelly broth! Yes it seems that the more jointy bones you get in there the better. I have some beef joints and bones now that make really good gelly broth :)

      Anyway, I’m so happy to hear that your making health improvements and feeling great about it. It’s also great having you here at the Love Vitamin making thoughtful comments and adding to the discussions! So thanks :D

  19. Kit says

    Hey Tracy! I can’t seem to find an answer online…how many bones would you say is enough for a pot of stock? Enough to cover the bottom? How do you gauge it?? I’ve been saving lamb bones for a bit and would love to make some broth soon!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Kit!
      I don’t think there’s any magic number… you can make a pot with any amount, although more is better. If you have a low bones to water ratio, it’s just going to be less concentrated, but still awesome… I say when you put your bones in the pot, the water should be just below covering them.

      • Kit says

        I’m back to report that broth-making went BEAUTIFULLY. I did lamb bones for seven hours on the stovetop. This stuff is so thick and gelatinous that it’s actually quite gross and unappetizing until I reheat it – but I’m glad to know that’s a good thing. Here’s to hoping it helps my gut. Glad you had this article!

  20. Ann says

    I am a college student and I live in a dorm room. If I made this at home and freeze it, how long should it last? I know you said one week in the fridge, but I have a decent cooler and I only live an hour away from my school and my mini fridge also has a freezer, so I would have the ability to freeze it and then just go home and prepare some more when I run out.

  21. Carley says

    Hi Tracy!

    I’m about to experiment with gelatin and bone broth and found a great article that says this:

    •When making bone broths (a good source of some of these non-inflammatory amino acids including glycine), it’s important to simmer for no longer than 3 hours or you’ll degrade delicate amino acids, while increasing toxic free-radicals. A shorter simmer will however yield a less jelly-like consistency, so to increase the gelatinous nature of your broth but without damaging the nutrients, leave your broth (with bones in) to cool completely, lid on, on the bench over-night, before straining and refrigerating / freezing for storage.

    Here is the link to the full article:
    http://www.thenutritioncoach.com.au/anti-ageing/get-in-some-gelatin/

    • Tracy says

      Oh, interesting! Thanks for the tip… I thought simmering it for a long time gave you more minerals though…didn’t realize it degraded the amino acids (I just made a pot of beef broth and let it it simmer for two days or something in the crockpot lol). I guess it’s a tit for a tat?

  22. Kit says

    Ok I’m popping back into this post to share something exciting I learned from a Paleo-following friend. Don’t throw out the bones! You can actually use them for a second round of broth! I wasn’t sure it would still turn out, but I’ve bone it a few times now and the second-round batches have always gelled and tasted delicious. Double the bang for your buck. Works for me!

  23. rnm22 says

    hi! i am about to make bone broth for the first time and very confused about the gel/layer of fat in the final state of broth preparation, do i skim it off and throw away? I thought this was the gelatin that is uber important to ingest????

    • Tracy says

      The white gelly stuff that settles on top when it cools is the fat, the gelatin is within the broth part. When you go to drink it/eat the broth, you can heat up the fat and eat it with it (it will dissolve), or you can just get rid of it. I don’t get rid of it if it’s chicken broth, but when I make beef broth, I find that the layer of fat is so massive that it makes the broth way too oily to eat in it, so I throw some of it away

  24. Rick says

    hey Tracy,
    when it comes to chicken bone broth, is the high omega 6 content from chicken fat a concern when consuming chicken bone broth? would it be better in your opinion to consume beef bone broth over chicken?
    Thanks

    • Tracy says

      Hi Rick,
      It could be a concern. I wouldn’t avoid chicken at all costs, but it is good to get a variety of different types of bone broth if possible

  25. Evan says

    I used to have problems getting it to gel but now it gels every time. I figured out the two things I was doing wrong:

    1) I did not (after roasting) let it sit in cold water with apple cider vinegar for an hour
    2) I cooked it longer than it should have been.

    Heres what I do for perfect gelled broth evertime:

    1) Roast in oven for 45 min
    2) Put cold water and bones into pot with apple cider vinegar and let sit for one hour
    3) Put crock pot on low and let it go for exactly 72 hrs/3 days and absolutely no longer.
    4) Put in fridge overnight and BAM got me some gel in the morning.

  26. kait says

    In my household, we usually take some of the stock we’ve made and freeze it into ice cube trays or one cup Tupperware containers. When using the ice cube trays, ten cubes is about one cup. This is very useful for making rice or Quinoa.

  27. Eddie says

    So bone broth that does not gel still has all the benefits of gelatin, collagen and all that good stuff right? Or no? I made my very first batch of bone broth a couple weeks ago and it gelled beautifully! I started drinking one cup a day as a tea in the evenings and it made my Gerd almost go away entirely. I heard the gelatin in the broth helped with our gut lining which in turn helped with acid reflux and it seemed to work for me so I was pretty exited. Anyways, this last batch (3rd batch) I did didn’t gel and now I’m not sure if it’s just me, but slowly my heartburn has started to come back. I’m still drinking the broth that didn’t gel and my heartburn isn’t as bad as before but do you think it has anything to do with the fact that it didn’t gel? Just curious as to what your thoughts were.

    I heard chicken feet was good to make it gel and as I read through your post, apparently pig’s feet work as well so im gonna try that and see if i see any improvement :)

    • Tracy says

      Hi Eddie,
      Well I think it depends on the concentration… it should have all the same benefits if the only reason it didn’t gel is because there was too much water. But if it was because there weren’t enough bones with gelatiny bits, then it might not be as powerful. I’m not sure… sounds like your gut knows the answer though!! And yes, chicken feet or, well, any animal feet, really will gel it right up I think!

  28. Christen says

    Thank you for this! I’m gonna do it, and I want to roast the chicken too. What kind of oil should I use? Cause the traditional olive oil becomes toxic at that temperature, right?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Christen, you shouldn’t need to use any oil to roast a chicken. Just make sure the chicken isn’t sitting right in the bottom of the pan, prop it up on something so air can flow under it otherwise the bottom will get soggy and it might not cook evenly… either like a metal grate that fits in the pan, or cut a couple onions into fourths and build it a little platform for the chicken to sit up on

  29. me says

    Mine gels sometimes and sometimes not. I make only chicken broth, though. I think it depends partly on how much water I use and partly on the amount of bones.

  30. Katy Flick says

    You know what always gels? The broth from baking a ham. I used it in my bean soup, but it’s SOOO salty. Does this broth have any nutritional value?

  31. says

    It depends on the bones. You need a lot of collagen to gel. If you are using more marrow bones (like middle of the leg) bones, you get the benefit of the marrow, but not much collagen. You need knuckles to get collagen. I have found it much harder to get this type of bone.

  32. Sonya says

    Just made bone broth for the third time and it was all gelled up like jello! I was so excited.

    Anyway.. I used a pressure cooker.. stacked it up with about 2.5 lbs of bones I packed as much as I could, filled water just above the bones to cover, splash of apple cider vinegar, and let it reach its high peak in the pressure cooker for about 30 minutes, then left it on low for about 4-5 hrs (longer than usual in a pressure cooker)

  33. Wendy Haylett says

    Mine always gels and the secret is chicken feet and necks. That’s all I use now. Pork hocks always do it, too! :)

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