One of the many reasons I love bone broth that it’s a super food, but it’s so simple to make, and inexpensive. I’ve been playing around with recipes for years, and recently settled on a tasty (but oh-so-easy) Instant Pot bone broth, ready in just two hours. Don’t have an Instant Pot? No problem, you can make this easy broth in the crockpot as well, just not quite as quickly.
Before we get into the details, let me first answer a question I’m often asked: Why spend time making broth when you can pick up a box at the supermarket?
Store bought broth (often called ‘stock’) is not the same thing as homemade bone broth. It’s cooked at high temperatures to reduce cook time, resulting in a liquid that does not gel, and is missing many of the nutrients available from collagen. Many brands also add MSG and other flavorings. These may add a little something to your food, but there are no health benefits and potential health risks given the additives. See the end of the article for options to purchase broth if making it is not your thing.
Sourcing bones can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
The easiest way to obtain bones is to buy bone-in meat. I like to buy an organic rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods (check which day they are on sale in your store!). Once we are done with the meat, the carcass is perfect for a batch of bone broth. Steaks, pork chops, beef and pork roasts, and raw whole chickens are also great sources for bones. I keep a bag in the freezer with leftover bones after cooking, and once it’s full I’m ready to make a batch of broth, with no cost for bones.
You can also find bones by asking for soup bones, meaty bones, marrow bones, knuckles, and oxtail at:
- Local farms (use EatWild to find farmers local to you)
- Farmers markets (use Local Harvest to find farmers markets in your area)
- Any health food market that has a butcher
- Online retailers like US Wellness Meats
The type of animal doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s great to vary what you are using (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc.) to get a variety of nutrients. You can make a batch of broth from a single animal source or mix them.
In terms of quality, the higher the quality of the bones, the more nutrient-dense the broth will be. Ideally, broth is made from the bones of organic, pasture-raised animals. But don’t let perfection stop you from making bone broth. If you aren’t able to afford high quality bones, use what you can afford and skim off all fat before consuming (many toxins are stored in animal fat and you can reduce your exposure by discarding the fat).
How to Make Broth That Gels
One fun property of bone broth is that it can gel. While fun to poke, it also means your broth is collagen-rich. Collagen (or gelatin), and the amino acids available in it, have many heath benefits. Not all broths will gel, and that is okay. Bone broth is nutrient-dense outside of collagen.
If you want your broth to gel, it’s helpful to use parts of the animal that contain a lot of collagen, like skin, feet, and joints. I find that broth from a whole chicken usually gels because the carcass includes several joints and skin. However, beef bones without knuckle bones don’t often result in a broth that gels.
Adding chicken feet to your broth will produce a gelatinous, collagen-rich broth. Remember that we are only a few generations away from using the whole animal. Your grandmother most likely handled chicken feet at some point. Rather than think of them as gross or disgusting, think of it as respectful. If we are going to take an animal’s life to benefit our health, let’s make use of the whole animal. You can find chicken feet and trotters (pig feet) at the same places listed above.
Why Add Vinegar?
Vinegar is added to broth to help release the nutrients in the bones. Just like we need adequate stomach acid to properly break down food and release nutrients, the acid in vinegar pulls minerals out of the bones.While it may seem intimidating, making a batch of Instant Pot bone broth is actually quite easy! Click To Tweet
Storing Bone Broth
Bone broth will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days; any broth that will not be used by then is best kept frozen. I like to freeze my broth in a silicon muffin mold and in glass jars so that I have options of how much to defrost.
For each batch of broth I fill six ‘muffins’ in my mold with about 1/4 cup broth each (or about 3/4 full). Make sure to place the muffin mold on a cookie sheet or other flat surface first, otherwise you won’t be able to move it to the freezer without spilling broth. Once frozen, save in a freezer-safe container. These are the perfect size for cooking veggies, and will defrost in a pan in just a few minutes.
I store the remainder of my broth in glass mason jars. Storing frozen liquids in glass is safe if you take proper precautions. First, make sure your jars are freezer-safe, like these. Next, allow your broth to cool before storing it in the jars. And finally, never fill jars beyond the max fill line. I freeze broth in 24oz jars, but only to the two cup (160z) line. I find that most often I use broth in two and four cup quantities.
Where Can I Buy Quality Broth?
Perhaps you read about the benefits of bone broth and are thinking bone broth sounds great, but know you aren’t going to make a pot of it yourself anytime soon. There are options for purchasing nutrient-rich, healing bone broth. Buying bone broth is expensive, but if you are looking for a nourishing and healing food and are unable to make it yourself, it’s worth looking into.
While I have not tried prepared bone broth, I have heard good things about Kettle & Fire and Pacific Bone Broth. Pacific Bone Broth is available in local grocery stores, but make sure you are buying the bone broth, not the stock.