A customer recently asked me which were the best bones for making a bone broth that gelled up nicely. Yes, bone broth gels up, just like Jello (when it’s cold anyway). That’s because it is full of gelatin (which is extracted from bones).
The answer to this question really depends on what your goal is with making bone broth!
Of course the highest quality bone broth will be made from pastured animals that ate a natural diet. For beef this means not just grass fed, but grass finished, in fact, grass finished is preferable even to organic when it comes to beef bone broth.
Pastured is also the best choice when it comes to pork, chicken or turkey. These animals have had the opportunity to forage for good quality foods, have had access to the sun (we all know how lack of sunlight can result in seasonal depression, right?), and they have had adequate exercise among other things.
Additionally, bones from younger animals will have more gelatin, while bones from older animals will contain more accumulated minerals. This is where knowing your farmer comes in handy, because you can ask this question!
Which bones are best for bone broth?
All bones are great for making bone broth. But different bones give different characteristics to your broth:
-Marrow bones have fats that boost immunity and support fertility, marrow also contributes to growth and development of children, and it has healing properties.
-Knuckle and joint bones contain more gelatin. Feet, both chicken and pork, provide the most gelatin. You should consider adding some joints or feet when you make bone broth.
-Soup bones are a variety of bones that have been sliced into smaller pieces to give greater surface area making them ideal for making bone broth.
-Poultry necks, wings and feet (yes, the feet!) contain the most gelatin and should be included in your chicken or turkey broth whenever possible.
I assure you that the feet are clean! When the animal is scalded, the outermost layer of skin is completely removed. Even for pigs, the outermost layer of the hoof is removed at scalding.
-Choose bones that have been sliced when possible – they have more surface area. This makes it easier and faster to extract all of the nutrients.
Beef Short Ribs have plenty of meat on them which can be picked from the bone and returned to a soup.
Beef Soup Bones are sliced and have greater surface area allowing for maximum extraction of all the good stuff!
Pig Feet are a great source of gelatin for your broth.
Where to get bones?
Obviously, the simplest way is to purchase bones. We offer grass fed and finished beef knuckles (sliced and unsliced), marrow bones, soup bones, short ribs, and osso buco (beef shank). From pork we offer neck bones, various ribs, and pork shanks.
-If you want to make chicken broth, we offer whole chickens with the neck inside of the bird.
-If you do not live close enough to shop with us then please consider searching out a local farm in your area. Get to know them. Make them your farmer.
-Save bones from your meals. Ok. This one sounds weird. But it’s easy. When cooking a whole chicken, save all the bones. Yes, even the ones you chewed on. After all, when you make broth, you will be simmering for many hours or cooking at high temperature in a pressure cooker and there will be no germs left when you’re done.
-Save bones from such cuts as bone in beef or pork roasts, beef or pork ribs, and beef or pork shank. You can save them in the freezer until you have enough to make your bone broth.
-I like to roast a chicken for dinner, save all the bones, and then immediately throw any leftovers and all bones into the crockpot and cover with water. I let it run for 24 hours. I then pick any meat off the bones and set it aside. Lastly, I pour the broth through a sieve to remove any tiny bones and other things (I’m like a nice clean looking broth.).
How to make bone broth:
To make your bone broth you can either simmer beef or pork bones for 48 hours or chicken for 24 hours. Place you bones in your pot on the stove or in your crock pot and make sure they are completely covered with water. You may need to add water as they cook, so keep an eye on your pot.
Sometimes I use the crock pot and sometimes I use a large pot on the stove. This is mostly dependent on the quantity of bones. For a smaller quantity, I use the crock pot.
For larger quantities I have a pot that holds six gallons and I make good use of it!
The other option is to use a pressure cooker to reduce your cooking time significantly. This will also minimize any odors from your cooking bones. (my kids think this smells great, but other folks find the 48 hour odor a bit overwhelming). I have not used this method and will have to do some research and write another blog post! Though I suspect that if you own a pressure cooker your manual will have some instructions.
When your broth is done, pour it through a sieve to remove any small bone fragments (especially from sliced bones!). This also results in a beautiful broth with no “floaters” that the kids can question.
How to store bone broth:
You don’t want to leave your bone broth in the fridge for more than a week tops. Bone broth is a great medium for the growth of bacteria – in fact it was used to culture bacteria for a long time. So what do you do with it if you can’t eat it all in a few days?
Freeze Bone Broth
Use wide mouth pint canning jars. You can purchase plastic reusable lids for these. You don’t want to seal them up too tightly as when the broth freezes, it will need room to expand. Fill the jars leaving about an inch of air at the top. Again – this is important to allow space in the jar for expansion during freezing.
DO NOT stick hot or warm jars in the freezer. Cool them on the counter first. Then chill in the fridge before placing upright in the freezer. Do not screw the lids on super tight. You want a snug fit, but not a super tight seal.
You could also use pint or quart freezer storage bags. Fill the bags and then lay flat on a baking sheet or other pan to freeze. These stack nicely and you don’t have to worry about glass breaking. You don’t want to set an unfrozen bag directly onto your freezer shelf. It will freeze around or to your shelves! Trust me on this one.
Pressure Can Bone Broth
I won’t go into the details here. Pressure canning is another blog post topic altogether. The advantage of pressure canning is that you do not have to rely on electricity for preservation, it will last for years, and it won’t take up valuable space in your freezer. It is also ready to use and requires no defrosting.