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GAPS Basics: Basic Bone Broth Tutorial: Why and How.

If you are considering the GAPS diet or just wanting to know how to preserve or improve your families health, making bone broth is a simple but powerful culinary skill to master.
Chicken Meat broth

In short broth is one of the best foods you can feed your family. It is a multivitamin, a medicine for all kinds of sicknesses, and a delicious food wrapped up in one. It keeps you healthy, gets you even more healthy and helps you recover when sick. Since you control all of what is in your broth you don’t have to worry about allergies to hidden ingredients or cheap fillers.

Broth is economical and good for the earth. It uses foods that you would be throwing away anyhow and makes more food out of it. It honors the animals who died to bring you the meat and the labourers who worked to bring you your veggies. It also stretches your food dollar since broth is protein “sparing” that is you will be satisfied with less meat in your soup thanks to the broth it is cooked in.

This is the simple version of how to make broth. There are recipes and techniques that can add complication and may taste better but this tastes pretty good and is simple and basic.


Bone Broth

What you will need.

  • a large pot or crock pot
  • bones from an animal with or without meat on them previously cooked or raw (whole chicken, chicken wings, backs, “soup bones”, ribs, bones from previously eaten steaks, roasts chickens, etc. I keep these in the freezer till I have enough to make a pot of stock. You can also ask at the meat counter for bones.
  • water (filtered is best but don’t get hung up on the details.  Use whatever your family drinks.)
  • clean veggies, peelings and tops from washed veggies, nothing rotten. (optional.) I also keep these in the freezer till I need them. Classic soup/stock veggies are onion, carrot, and celery but feel free to add anything you have laying around. Onion peel gives chicken stock its nice yellow color.  Do not add veggies with a strong bitter or otherwise bad flavor unless you want broth that tastes like that. (*LOD see note below)
  • vinegar or lemon juice
  • black peppercorns, cracked or whole (optional)*
  • a spoon and or ladle
  • a strainer
  • containers for your finished broth. It is nice but not necessary for them to be freezer safe.
  • salt (optional)
Put the bones/meaty bones/whole chicken into the pot or crock pot. Fill with water till everything is covered. Add some vinegar/lemon juice (1-4 tbsp depending on the size of your pot). You want the pot to be mostly full of bones but not overflowing. You do not want a tiny bit of bones and a pot full of water or you will have watery broth. All the bones should be underwater. Let it sit for an hour or so.

Turn the pot on high with the lid off (may need to leave the lid on for a crock pot to get hot). Some foam will rise to the top, skim that. (if you forget it won’t taste as good but isn’t ruined). Once it starts simmering and all the foam is skimmed add the veggies and the black pepper (I think it is easier to skim if you wait till this point to add veggies but really it doesn’t matter that much). Turn the heat to low, put on the lid and walk away. You want to have it at a low simmer. Just steaming is fine, some small bubbles are also fine. Leave it this way for 12 to 48 hours for chicken, up to 72 hours for beef, lamb,or pork. Check it periodically to see if it needs more water, is still hot but not too hot etc.  Lately I have been using my wood stove for broth making. It seems to keep it at the perfect temp.

If you are cooking meaty bones and want that meat to eat, check it after a couple of hours and remove the well cooked meat from the bones and put the bones back in the pot. I find the meat to be tasteless if I let it go the full time.  I do think that broth tastes better if there is some raw meat included with the initial bones.  Chicken necks work well for this when you are making broth from mostly cooked bones since most people don’t bother to eat them and they have plenty of meat to flavor the broth.  I have been known to save my chicken necks raw for the eventual broth making.

When your time is up turn it off and get out your strainer and containers. All that stuff in the pot gets strained out and tossed. (Some feed the bones to their dogs, they should be pretty soft and safe for a pet to eat.) If the bones have marrow you can remove the marrow and add that to the broth or not bother. It is very good for you. My youngest just adores the marrow and will eat it straight. The liquid you have left is broth. Add some salt (this is a to taste issue and you can add it now or when you use the broth in a recipe.) The liquid should be pretty clear, depending on how fine your strainer is.

This liquid you can now drink straight, use as a base for soups, or sneak it into lots of things.

broth gelled smaller
Photo by Jen Pagano used with permission
Some ideas for how to include broth in your meals are:
Cook any veggies your family eats with this for the liquid instead of water,
put a few tbsp into tomato sauce,
add a few tbsp when sautéing veggies.
Make soup with this as the base (you may want to add some water when making soup since the foods you put in the soup will add richness to it.)
Sometimes I boil the strained liquid till it is reduced so that it takes up less room in the fridge/freezer. Then I need to just add some water to reconstitute. The fat that is on the top of this broth is good for cooking with. If making chicken soup you can get the fat off some chicken broth, melt it in your pot, sauté some onion and garlic in that then add the broth any other veggies and chicken and cook till everything is cooked through. Using premade broth and left overs I can make soup from scratch for lunch in 20 min or less.
I recently discovered that broth with a thick layer of fat on it will stay good in the fridge for literally months.  I was given some beef bones a week or so before Thanksgiving that I had no room for in my freezer.  I quickly turned them into broth, cooked the broth down till it was about half the volume and put the broth into 2 qt jars in the fridge (again no room in the freezer.)  These jars had 1-2 inches of beef fat on the top of them.  I was able to use this broth for all of my Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking and didn’t need to make more that whole time.  I opened up the last jar in mid January and it was still good.

To learn more about the benefits of bone broth and some great recipes check out my book Broth: Elixir of Life

1broth-elixir-of-life-250

What is your favorite sneaky way to use bone broth?  I would love a list of your ideas in the comments section.

* Carrots, celery, and black pepper are high oxalate foods and should probably be avoided in broth for those who are sensitive to oxalates.

This was part 1 in my GAPS Basics series.  Go here to see part 2.  How to make GAPS sour cream.


30 Comments

  1. great post, patty.
    couild you please explain why NCM says some people may need to start with meat broth before moving on to bone broth?
    how does one know if bone broth is too much?
    thanks!

  2. Hi GiGi
    Bone both contains free gulamate which some people, esp those sensitive to msg, can have a problem with.
    It is also just very strongly detoxifying.
    Thirdly it can have less gelatin than meat broth and a damaged gut really needs that gelatin to heal.
    You would know it is too much if you have a strong reaction to it. Some will get a reaction like they get from MSG, a headache or joint pain or some other reaction. Some will just feel too ill or like detox is going too fast. Often it is easy enough to stop the broth for a day or two and see if you feel better. It is best to always start GAPS intro using meat broth and move on to bone broth after the first couple of stages are under you belt. Even some people who have been consuming bone broth for years will react to it at first on intro. I am planning another GAPS broth post soon with info about meat broth and some other tips.
    Patty

  3. Thanks Patty!
    I was making bone broth for my kids since the start of intro (almost 5 months ago), but switched to meat broth after I heard this.
    I think we might switch back and forth so that they can get the benefits of both.
    ALso, sometimes the meat broth is gelatinous, other times, it is not. I have heard of some people adding gelatin to the broths. Do you recommend this? f so, what do you recommend using?
    Thanks again!

  4. We do both here too. If the broth doesn't gel that is often because it is too dilute. Sometimes it can also be from boiling it too much.
    I use the Bernard Jensen gelitan that is linked in my amazon side bar.

  5. We're just starting on our GAPS journey here – my son is really more Paleo at this point so we're putting a couple of Tablespoons in his milk to get the broth in him. I can also add a teaspoon or two of kraut juice to his milk without him noticing. We've always put supps and oils in his milk so he's very used to "unconventional" tasting milk. Thanks for the post!

  6. I just started making bone broth, and I have extreme gas pains after having some. My belly feels like one giant bubble! Is this normal at first? Will my body adapt?

    • Hi Katie,
      You should probably switch to meat broth for now. Meat Broth and see if that helps. Also start out slow. Some people get a lot of die off from their broth.

  7. I read in Weston a Price that if you do the bone broth, boil it for only 6-8 hours and it will help with the MSG. Any info on this?

    • Hi Leslie,
      Yes I have heard that. I do not have that problem but I have hear that simmering at a lower temp and shorter time will both help to reduce free glutamate (which many react to as they do to MSG). Many have found that with healing on GAPS they can tolerate longer and longer cooking times.

  8. I ran across your site about bone broth for minerals. Wouldnt juicing vegetables and fruits be better minerals?

    • You can’t beat bones for minerals. That is what they are made of. Vegetables have some minerals but can’t hold a candle to bones ounce for ounce.

  9. Thanks for the information. I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years and am now starting on the path towards the GAPS diet. I have eliminated the foods to avoid plus have started eating eggs and meats about 2 weeks ago, along with cooking my own chicken soup. My meat broth from the chicken soup is a lot weaker than the bone broth, as I’m following the method of putting the chicken in the pot of water, bringing to a boil, skimming off the “gunk”, then simmering for another 2 to 2.5 hours before straining. At that point, I let the chicken cool off a bit, then put the pulled apart meat back into the pot along with various soup veggies and seasoning (been doing onion, zuchini, carrot, parlsley…would like to add celery too, but understand that’s not so good initially on GAPS). And then I cook that until everything is soft, about 20 minutes. I have been drinking this soup at lunch and with dinner. And I have noticed I feel better…digestively speaking, but oh wow am I stiff and achey. I’m guessing this is due to the de-tox/die off process? I have always been very flexible, but trying to stretch, I find that it’s not painful to try to stretch further, my body just won’t even move. I have been saving the chicken bones in the freezer to use them for bone broth. But it sounds like maybe I should wait a bit longer for my body to acclimate to meat before working on bone broth?

    • It is likely that the aching is from detox. The reason that it happens is that you lose a lot of minerals when you are detoxing so you need to replenish them faster than normal. Lots of celtic sea salt in your broth can help. You may find that you start craving it once you taste it. Also bone broth, leafy greens, and juicing can be good sources of minerals. Juicing can also bring on more detox so best to hold off on that most likely. Organ meats are also very good for detox but may be a step too far for you right now. The bone broth may be a problem but for most people it is not so I would go ahead and make a pot of it and see. You can always mix it in with meat broth or freeze it for later if you just can’t tolerate it yet.
      Also don’t neglect detox baths! Those happened at least once a day when we started GAPS and were such an important piece for my family. This postDetox Showers covers the basics.

  10. I’ve been blessed with a hunter friend that is giving me his fresh wild duck he has hunted. Would you use duck to make bone broth with or do you think the taste might be to “gamey”? Thank you.

    • I have not made broth with wild duck but I have made it with domestic duck and it is wonderful!!! So rich and tasty. I’m jealous!

  11. Hey there – thanks for the info. I just made up a batch up beef bone broth by simmering it in the crockpot for about 8hrs. After it was done, I poured everything into the blender (marrow, gelatin, and liquid) and then poured into the jars for storing in the freezer. My thinking was that everytime you have a bit of broth you would be getting all that good for you stuff. After looking at some the reader feedback, doing it this way I should only consume small amounts (ts to TB) to reduce the “die-off” affect. We haven’t officially started the GAPS, just doing the prep work before we do. My husband tasted a bit and said it was incredible disgusting. Any tips on how to make it more palpable. The container I stored in the fridge separated well (white fat on top w/liquid on the bottom) but the mixes in the freezer just froze as white mixes. Was this a broth fail? I had about 6lbs of bones so I have TONS of broth (2 crockpots worth) and just wondering how we are going to use it all up as bad as it tastes. I have made up several batches of chicken bone broth along with chicken meat broth and they all taste great, have great texture but the beef broth was very different experience. Any insight would be great!

    • I store the pate and the broth in separate containers. Then I mix the pate into soups, burgers and things like that. I know some people mix it into their broth but I don’t care for it like that.
      Did you use enough salt? That will make a big difference in flavor.

      There is a bit of an aquired taste to it. My younger dd loved the “pate” the first time she tasted it and continued to for a long time. Her sister has gone off and on liking it. I haven’t ever loved it but I know it is good for me so I hide it in things. My dh has the hardest time with it.

      So my advice is to let that pate float to the top and just drink some broth and save the pate for mixing into ground meat dishes.

      • Great, thanks! I didn’t put any salt in it, just bones and water while it simmered. Do you add the salt when its done or while it simmers? Also, I forgot to ask, how long will a jar of it keep in the fridge? A couple weeks, months?

        • oh and apple cider vinegar.

        • I add the salt to taste when we eat it since I often concentrate it to get more nutrition in less volume. I was thinking for the sake of the flavor when you consume it. My experience is that a jar of broth will only last about a week or less, unless it has a thick layer of fat (unbroken) on the top. Then I have had it last for 6 weeks (but only a few days after I break through the fat on top.)

  12. Hi there!

    Thank you so much for reading my comment and for your helpful blog!!

    I have recently started GAPS to see if it would help with my son’s eczema – he is 5 months old and I am exclusively breastfeeding still (doing full GAPS since breastfeeding). I also want to improve my overall health – I have auto-immune issues that run in the family (Mom has Hashimoto’s and fibro, and I had some postpartum thyroiditis s/s, although my thyroid levels were “normal”).

    I had two questions for you regarding bone broth – I made a big batch about a week and a half ago from beef marrow bones. 1) How long does the broth last in the fridge or in the freezer? The containers I poured it into have a pretty think layer of tallow (at least that’s what I think it’s called! :) – I’m new to this!) on the top, and I think I recall reading somewhere that it lasts awhile if the fat is left intact on top. And 2) I have been drinking chicken meat broth for about 2 weeks now – is it safe to slowly transition into drinking bone broth? I know there are more die-off symptoms with that – should I just watch my body and decrease intake if I have s/s?

    Thank you so much! Blessings as you continue to peruse your own health!
    Megan

    • Whoops – pursue! :)

    • I would go ahead and try it and see how you do. As far as how long it will last, my experience when I had a lot of bone broth last fall and an absolutely full freezer was that it lasted over 6 weeks in the fridge with a thick layer of fat (unbroken). I can’t promise that you will have the same experience but that was mine.

  13. Do NOT feed cooked bones to your dog!!!! They are too soft and dangerous ! They wont chew them up properly and they can rip their intestines. Throw them out.

    • Lisa,
      the bones that are left over after making bone broth are soft and crumbly. They will not rip up a dogs intestine. I know lots of humans who eat them by pureeing them and mixing it into their food. No need to even chew them to make to break them up.
      Now it is true that hard bones can splinter and are not safe for anyone to swallow so be sure that your bones are nice and soft if you want to feed them to your pets. And of course not in unlimited quantities or instead of regular food. Treat them like a treat or a supplement.

  14. As a chef, these are OK basic directions. Here are some pointers.

    - Brown the bones in the oven. Adds flavor and color.
    - Use only bones and water if you want it to keep. Reduce to thick jelly, let cool until solid, the faster it cools the better so use a shallow wide dish, then store air tight. Traveling or portable soup as it was known, will last quite well. Very concentrated so I do not season it until used.
    - Adding vegetables and seasoning make it spoil faster.
    - You can clarify before you reduce to make it sparkling clear. The cubes look like jewels. I want to get a jewel shaped ice tray to make them actually shaped like jewels for gifts to my hunting and camping friends.
    - The older the animal the better the flavor. The old recipes say 8 years old is best for beef. Good luck finding that at a butcher shop these days. If you even asked for it they would think you a nutter.
    - cold water was used to control boiling and helped to clarify as well.

    Stocks, both white and brown, had veggies as did ordinary consomme traditionally, and could also be clarified.
    An old recipe I have calls for shin of beef, chicken bones,lean beef, leeks,celery,carrots,turnips parsnips, onions and a few cloves. It is very clear most of the time with good skimming, and I do not bother to clarify it. Salt and pepper are added at the end to taste.

    There is also game consomme that had venison,hare,pheasant or partridges all roasted first. mushrooms, carrots and onion were browned in butter, and leeks and celery with herbs like bay, thyme, etc. and salt and pepper.

    These are old recipes from around 1900. They are all quite tasty, and I made the game consomme, but I used grouse instead of partridge. I used a jackrabbit for the hare. They had different European deer, roebuck, but I used whitetail. It was very good.

    Consomme was one of the most important foundation preparations in a formal french kitchen, and is still one of the “leading” sauces taught today.

    Many cooks,in a less formal kitchen, always had a stock pot on the back of the stove and added scraps and bits to it until it was rich enough to use. Veggies boiling water, leftovers, etc. This method makes a cloudy stock, but it can be clarified. It used to be done by grinding lean meat,egg whites, and a chicken carcass up finely and mixed with a little cold stock, and then pouring the hot stock over it. It was heated gently but not boiled. The raft formed floats up and clings together, and is then removed carefully.
    Most recipes nowadays say to just use an egg white and maybe cold water.

    • Thanks for all that information! Fascinating! I had not realized that adding veggies makes it spoil faster. I’ll have to add that information into the next edition of my book.

      I left out browning stuff because a) I wanted to keep this as simple as possible for people who are unfamiliar with making broth/cooking and b) I rarely do it myself and don’t think it makes enough of a difference in the flavor personally to bother with it. Plus I usually end up starting my broth using frozen bones and that would require taking the time to thaw them first.

      I made some broth using old laying hens that were beyond their useful years recently and the flavor was superior to the flavor from the weeks/months old chickens that I can usually source. It’s tough to find wild game here in the city where I live although I did once have a farmer I know offer me a butchered coon. I turned her down because it sounded like too much work. I wonder what kind of broth that would have made.

  15. Hi Patty

    I love the idea of the bone broth and really want to get on board but I just can’t stand the taste of it. Is there anything I can do make it taste less fat and meaty? I have frozen a heap for stock but would really like to get into the GAPS diet more so want to be able to enjoy the bone broth

    Mands
    Mands recently posted…Caramlised onion, spinach and three cheese frittataMy Profile

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