How to make and use bone broth

  • Food
  • Friday, 01 Apr 2016

The Crispy Chicken Stew makes good use of bone broth and cleverly incorporates it in the dish. Photo: Christopher Testani

If you’d like to go on a bone broth diet and see for yourself whether it works or not, here’s how to go about it. First, try to use the bones of organically-grown animals if you can. This means wild-caught seafood, organic or free-range chicken and grass-fed cattle.

The rationale behind this is pretty much the same as whatever else you put into your body – the better the source, the better it is for you. Technically however, as authors of The Bare Bone Broth Cookbook say, “You should use any bones you can get your hands on!”

The Harveys however also caution that harmful hormones injected into animals that are not sustainably bred, can leach into the bone broth, nulling its healing capabilities.

Also, while you can mix lamb, beef and chicken bones together to make a broth, seafood should never be added to this mixture. Fish, shrimp and lobster all make great broths on their own.

Broth vs stock

The basic difference between making a stock and making a broth is that broth tends to contain more meat than bones and is cooked for far longer – some broths even take two days to make!

You can use chicken parts like wings or necks and cattle parts like oxtail for the broth, as well as adding bony bits from knuckles, marrow, joints and feet of animals.


Before making bone broth, invest in a couple of basic kitchen implements – a large stainless steel stock pot (or slow-cooker), soup ladle for skimming, strainer and mason jars for storing the broth.

Roasting bones beforehand will result in a fuller-flavoured broth. Photo: Brodo
Roasting bones beforehand will result in a fuller-flavoured broth. Photo: Brodo

Basic process

To begin making your bone broth, fill a stock pot with bones and meat and cover with at least 5-8cm (2-3”) of water. If you want a broth with a richer flavour, roast bones before this step. Avoid using tap water in your broth; filtered water is best and Brodo’s Marco Canora says hot water extracts more protein. The water levels should remain at least 5cm (2”) from the tip of the pot.

The bone-water ratio is critical to getting a gelatine-rich broth as broths that fail to gel once refrigerated are often the result of too much water being added during the cooking process.

Once the pot has been filled with bones and water, bring it to a boil. During this process, continuously skim the impurities off the surface of the broth. Once it comes to a boil, Canora advises that it’s best to move the pot to one side of the burner, which forces the fat and impurities to rise to the surface – so you can continue to skim scum intermittently.

Then it’s a matter of letting the broth simmer for a couple of hours. Much later in the simmering process, vegetables like carrot and celery and aromatics like garlic and onion are added, to give the broth a heightened depth of flavour.

How long?

There is some dispute in the bone broth community about the length of time a broth should be cooked.

According to Canora, the belief that a broth has to be brewing for 24 hours to 48 hours to be worthy of the title broth is “nonsense”.

He says most chicken broths can be made in six hours while even beef and lamb broths made with large bones don’t need more than 16 to 18 hours, as most large bones have given up all the nutrients they have to give after that.

The Harveys on the other hand, say chicken broth should be cooked for 24 hours for ultimate nutrient content while beef, veal and pork bones should be cooked for 30 to 48 hours.

There is little dispute, however, about fish broths, which take no longer than two hours to whip up! Shrimp broths take even less and are done in under an hour.

It is up to you to decide how long you want to cook your broth for, but once you’re done simmering the broth, strain it, add salt as necessary and let it cool in mason jars. Some experts recommend letting it sit in an ice bath before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.


If you’re planning on consuming the broth within the next week, put it straight into the refrigerator. But if you want to keep the broth longer, freeze it. Broth can last in the freezer for at least six months to a year.

Jiggly jelly and floating fat

Another thing to note is that a well-made broth will look like jelly once it sets in the fridge. This is good! This means it has been made properly. You will also notice a layer that has formed on top of the broth. This is called the fat cap and should be removed from the broth before consumption.

Saving the world and self

Making your own bone broth takes time, but ultimately it’s totally worth it. Aside from the health benefits (which you will notice after repeated consumption, if all the hype is true) there is another great advantage: waste prevention.

Off-cuts like necks, knuckles and feet often get discarded by butchers and customers alike but by turning these unwanted appendages into nourishing, protein-rich bone broth, every bit of the animal gets fully utilised and nothing goes to waste.

You can even go one step further and make use of the simmered meat from bone broth. Canora transforms the meat from his hearth broth into fried mini meatballs called polpettone.

Another alternative is to use the simmered meat, bones, vegetables and aromatics to make a weak stock called remouillage. The remouillage can also be used in place of water when you’re making your next batch of broth.

Saving the planet and keeping your health in order? Tell me bone broth doesn’t sound like a legit messiah right now!

Vinegar or no vinegar

Many bone broth experts tell you the secret to extracting the most nutrients out of bones is to add a tablespoon of vinegar such as white or apple cider vinegar – or just any acid such as wine or lemon juice – to the pot for very 500g of bones. Acid helps to pull nutrients such as calcium out, they say.

The authors of Bone Broth Secret cite a 1934 study on bone broth published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, an international peer-reviewed medical journal that found that vinegar “is not needed to pull minerals or amino acids from bones”.

While they follow it as it is a general practice, they point out that a lot of traditions are passed down “for reasons we may never know” and it’s up to you to decide what feels right.

Others don’t worry over vinegar; if they want more nutrients from the same lot of bones, they just keep on simmering new batches of broth after straining off each batch – adding more leftover meat, bone or vegetable scraps each day – until, as one says, “I am sick of it”. It’s known as the “perpetual broth”.

Bear in mind with each subsequent boil the flavour diminishes along with the gelatine and nutrient. The French tend to boil it just twice and has a word for a “half stock” made by a second boiling of the leftover bones, a “remouillage” or “remy” for short.

The Hearth Broth is the signature broth at Canora's popular takeout restaurant Brodo. Photo: Brodo
The Hearth Broth is the signature broth at Canora's popular takeout restaurant Brodo. Photo: Brodo


Makes 5.6 litres

2 (900g to 1.3kg) stewing (old) hens

2 (450g) turkey drumsticks

1.3kg beef shin

3 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped

6 celery stalks, roughly chopped

3 large carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped

1 (411g) can whole peeled tomatoes

10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp black peppercorns

fine sea salt, to taste

To make broth

Place all the meat in a pot and add cold water to cover by 5cm (2-3”). Bring it to a boil over high heat, about 1 hour, skimming off the foamy impurities every 15 to 20 minutes.

As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low and pull the pot to one side so it is partially off the burner. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming once or twice.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, parsley and peppercorns and push them down into the liquid.

Continue to simmer for 3 to 5 hours, skimming as needed and occasionally checking to make sure that the bones are fully submerged.

Use a spider skimmer to remove the solids. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. Season with salt to taste and let it cool.

Transfer the cooled broth to storage containers (leaving any sediment in the bottom of the pot) and refrigerate overnight.

Skim off any solidified fat from the top and store the broth for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months. – Recipe from Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook by Marco Canora

The Crispy Chicken Stew makes good use of bone broth and cleverly incorporates it in the dish. Photo: Christopher Testani
The Crispy Chicken Stew makes good use of bone broth and cleverly incorporates it in the dish. Photo: Christopher Testani


Serves 4

For the chicken bone broth

2 whole chickens

450g chicken feet

1/4 cup apple cider, white, or white wine vinegar

6-8 cups cold water, or as needed to cover ingredients

4 cups ice cubes

3 carrots, peeled and halved

4 onions, peeled and halved

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 bay leaves

For the chicken stew

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

900g bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tbsp ghee or olive oil

1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup capers with brine

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 cup white wine

2 cups canned artichoke hearts

1 cup kalamata olives

1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano

To make the chicken bone broth

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Remove the wings, thighs, drumsticks, and breasts from the chickens.

Place the carcasses, wings, necks, and innards that came inside the chicken on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. For a lighter flavour, skip this step.

Place the bones, feet, and vinegar in a stockpot or slow cooker, and cover with the cold water. If using a stockpot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. If using a slow cooker, turn the temperature to high.

Once simmering, reduce heat to low, cook for 30 minutes, skimming and discarding the scum that rises to the top. Add the ice and skim off any fat that congeals on the top along with any other scum or impurities. Simmer uncovered for 12 to 15 hours, adding more water as necessary just to keep the bones covered.

Add the carrots, onions, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves and simmer for another 5 hours. Continue to skim off any impurities; add water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered.

Gently strain or ladle the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a container. Fill your sink with ice water. Place the container of broth in the ice bath to cool for about 1 hour. Use the broth right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to one year. Remove any fat that has solidified on the top before using. You may discard this fat or use it as you would any other cooking fat.

To make the stew

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt, and the dried oregano. Add the chicken thighs and rub the seasoning into the chicken until evenly coated; set aside.

You can also cover and refrigerate the chicken thighs and marinate for 2 to 24 hours. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the ghee or oil in a cast-iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat.

Pat the chicken thighs dry. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, in the hot ghee or oil, spacing them evenly, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the skin begins to brown.

Turn the chicken thighs and brown on the opposite side for 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, capers, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon slices.

Add the white wine and deglaze the skillet, stirring to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes.

Add 3 cups of chicken broth, return the thighs to the skillet, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts and olives and continue simmering for 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken thighs from the skillet, pull the meat from the bones, and add the chicken meat back into the skillet and stir to distribute evenly.

To serve, scoop the stew into serving bowls and garnish with chopped fresh oregano.

The stew or any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for up to six months. – Recipe from The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook by Ryan and Katherine Harvey

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