6 Tips For Bone Broth That Gels Every Time
A technically “correct” bone broth is one that, after cooking and cooling, thickens and gels. Like Jello. That lovely gel is a sure sign that your bone broth is the best it can be — full of nourishing, gut-healing gelatin, collagen, minerals, and amino acids. Here are my 6 tips for bone broth that gels every time!
If you’ve been on the nourishing foods scene for long, you’ve likely pinned something or read about the many, many benefits of bone broth.
Bone broth is a freaking superfood — no debating it!
Got a tummy ache? Drink some bone broth.
A cold or the flu? Bone broth.
Trying to heal a leaky gut? Can’t do it without bone broth.
Want to transform your health in as few as 3 days? Try a bone broth fast.
Seriously, if there’s one food every person on the planet should be consuming more of, it’s bone broth.
And, bone broth is super, super simple. You don’t need any fancy ingredients or appliances (although I have thoughts on making bone broth in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, and on the stove).
It’s just bones + water…
You’ve probably also heard or read that a gelatinous broth is preferable to one that’s just liquid like water. And this is definitely true. Here’s why…
Why You Want Bone Broth That Gels
A technically “correct” bone broth is one that, after cooking and cooling, thickens and gels. Like Jello.
That lovely gel is a sure sign that your bone broth is the best it can be — full of nourishing, gut-healing gelatin, collagen, minerals, and amino acids.
As bones cook in water, the collagen that naturally occurs in bones, tendons, and cartilage leaches from the bones and into the water. Cooked collagen is known as gelatin — the stuff that gives jello, marshmallows, and good broth that jiggle once cooled.
That’s the result you want every time you make broth. That’s how you know it’s going to heal your gut, boost your immune system, and cure that cold or flu. 🙂
So, what if you’ve tried and tried and your broth isn’t gelling? How can you get bone broth that gels every time?
I have tips for you!
6 Tips For Bone Broth That Gels Every Time
I have nearly a decade of broth-making under my belt, so I’ve had time to find what works and how to get bone broth that gels.
Whether this is your first time to make bone broth or you’ve attempted it numerous times, give these tips a try and see how it works!
#1 — Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and helps to break down the bones so the minerals are released into the water. You’ll get more out of your bones this way!
Add up to 4 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to the water + bones. If you’re making broth on the stovetop, let the ACV sit in the water for about half an hour before turning on the heat.
If using an Instant Pot or slow cooker, you can add vinegar and turn on right away. The time it takes the Instant Pot to come to pressure or the slow cooker to heat up is plenty of time for the ACV to begin to break down the bones.
I promise, you won’t taste ANY vinegar in the finished product. The Hubs absolutely detests the smell and taste of ACV, so if there was a hint of it left in the broth, he wouldn’t go near it.
#2 — Don’t Use Too Much Water
Probably the most common mistake people make when making broth is using too much water.
A good rule of thumb is to add enough water to just cover whatever bones you have, and don’t add more water than that.
It’s understandable that you want to make lots of broth, so you think using more water is the answer. This, however, dilutes the gelatin, causing your broth to stay as liquid as water even after refrigerating.
The fewer bones you have, the less water you need.
#3 — Try Adding Chicken Feet
Chicken feet are extremely rich in collagen. So, even if you don’t have many bones, you can make more gelatinous broth if you have a few chicken feet to throw in the mix.
Where to find chicken feet?
I am able to buy them already peeled and ready for broth from my health food store. And they are CHEAP!
If you raise your own chickens or know someone who does, save the feet after butchering. You’ll have to prepare them by peeling first, but it’s worth it to get a lovely, gelled broth.
I do have a tutorial for making a foot-only broth that gels beautifully — Instant Pot Chicken Foot Broth.
#4 — Use An Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker)
The Instant Pot has changed my life in many, many ways… not the least of which is basically guaranteeing that I make broth on the regular and that it always gels.
Because of the magic of pressure cooking, you can cook bones + water + feet for less time and still get broth that gels!
It is absolutely amazing to me that I can put bones and water in my Instant Pot after dinner is cleaned up and have a rich broth ready before I go to bed!
Hands-down, the Instant Pot is my preferred tool for making broth — over the stove top and slow cooker.
#5 — If Using A Crock Pot, Simmer At Least 12 Hours
I no longer use my Crock Pot for bone broth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. 🙂
You gotta give all those bones a chance to release the good stuff, and 12 hours is a fair amount of time for them to do that.
Twelve hours is not the most, but is the least amount of time you should give your broth before using or storing it. And 24 hours is about the longest you should go.
After 24 hours, you start losing liquid and the broth is more likely to overcook, resulting in a dark, bitter broth that you won’t want to drink.
So, in a Crock Pot, 12 to 24 hours, low and slow, and still use ACV and not too much water.
#6 — Always Use Grass-Fed & Organic Bones/Feet/Etc.
The higher quality your bones and/or feet, the better your broth will turn out. Grass-fed and organic bones, feet, cartilage, etc. are known to be higher in all the beneficial stuff — more collagen, more minerals, more healthy fat.
When you’re using food as medicine, you want to use the best.
So, if you’ve been using conventional bones without gelling success, try using higher quality bones next time and see what happens (while following these other tips, of course).
I hope these few tips help you achieve broth that gels if thus far the Holy Grail of health foods has eluded you!
What To Do With Broth That Doesn’t Gel?
Is it a waste? Should it go down the sink?
No way! Don’t you throw it out! You can still use bone broth that doesn’t gel.
Maybe it doesn’t have all the gelatin, amino acids, and minerals that you wanted it to have, but it STILL has more of those things than pure water. So, use it anyway!
I understand if you want to save your “good” broth for sipping and soups. I do the same. 🙂
It may not be the best, but it’s still useful and you should use it anywhere that you’d normally use water in cooking…
- cook your beans in it
- and your rice and wild rice and sushi rice
- and your quinoa
- cook your pasta in it
- if unseasoned, use it in place of water in baking recipes or in pancakes or waffles for a bit of added nutrition
Can’t Make Homemade Broth Right Now?
I get it, Momma. We all go through phases of life when making homemade all-the-things is impossible.
Cut yourself some slack and don’t sweat it!
For those times, when you still want to nourish your family with the benefits of broth, it’s ok to spring for broth someone else has made for you.
I love to keep a small supply of Kettle & Fire broths in my pantry for those busy seasons or when I go to the freezer for broth and come up empty-handed. Hey, it happens!
Homemade is ALWAYS best… but Kettle & Fire is second best when you can’t do homemade. 🙂
Nourishing Recipes With Bone Broth
- Instant Pot Chicken Foot Broth
- Dump & Cook Instant Pot Taco Soup
- Keto Ramen with Poached Eggs
- Instant Pot Green Chile Chicken Chowder (paleo, Whole30, GAPS, keto)
- Instant Pot Spinach-Artichoke Meatball Soup (Whole30, paleo, keto)
- Low-Carb Zuppa Toscana (potato- and dairy-free)
Do you make bone broth? Does yours gel every time?
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