Our post The Five Bone Broth Mistakes You Might Be Making was very popular. I received many questions about it, so I decided to follow it up with more mistakes and more information to answer many of the questions I have received.
Cooking Too Short
It takes time for the minerals and nutrients to be drawn out of the bones. If you stop before this happens, you won’t be getting everything you need and waste nutrients by throwing them into the garbage instead of drawing them into the stock. Cook stock a minimum of 8 hours, but go for 24-36 hours for chicken and 24-48 hours for beef if at all possible. The longer, the more nutrition you extract, generally speaking.
Cooking Too Long
But there is a limit to how long cooking remains beneficial. If you let stock go too long, it can turn and the broth can become bitter or have off flavors. If you go longer than 36-48 hours, depending on how high you have your heat, you can have the flavor turn. Sometimes, you can tell the flavor has turned by the color of the broth. If it turns unnaturally dark, you’ve probably cooked it too long.
If you’re doing a ‘continuous brew’ type of set-up where you remove stock and add bones and water daily, make sure you check it daily to ensure it’s doing ok and doesn’t need to be pulled.
Using the Wrong Pot
It’s important to avoid aluminum when making stock. Aluminum can leech under heat and long cooking conditions, and you don’t want that in your stock! Stainless steel or cast iron are good choices, as is enameled cast iron. Remember, the heavier-bottomed the pot, the better heat distribution you get, which will avoid a burnt or off-flavor developing from hot spots if you’re cooking on the stove.
It’s also important not to use an under-sized pot. Crowding can mean you don’t wind up with as rich of a stock as you desired.
Concern About Gelling
Gelling is awesome, but if you cook your stock a long time in order to extract all of the nutrients from the bone, don’t be surprised if the stock doesn’t gel. The gelatin has broken down from the long cooking time. It’s still there, it’s just broken down so it’s more easily absorbed. If you’re really concerned, you can take your stock and add some high quality, commercially purchased gelatin to it. Or you can pop in some chicken feet the last few hours of cooking to give it some gel. Either way, gelled or not, bone broth is still awesome.
Using the Fat Incorrectly
Using fat after a too long cooking time can be a problem because the fat can go rancid. If you wish to reclaim the fat, use a ladle skim the fat once it has liquified and pop it into the fridge to solidify. If you miss any fat and you find it after cooking, be sure to discard that fat before use.
This method has a good and a bad. It’s good in that you can claim the fat and use it. It’s bad, however, in that a nice, thick fat cap on the stock can make it last longer in the fridge. So to compensate, plan on using your stock quicker or freeze it for long-term storage so you don’t accidentally miss the window and it goes to waste. Also, I’ve been known to add the fatty trimmings from chickens in order to bulk up the fat content in the stock, so I could have it both ways- ladle some off for cooking and keep the rest so the stock could have a protective fat cap.
Either way, be sure to store your stock in the coldest part of your fridge so it will last as long as possible.