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Bone broth - turns from gelatinous to watery when simmered for hours.

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Updated October 22, 2014 at 4:15 AM
Created April 29, 2014 at 8:53 AM

When I make bone broth, it starts off very gelatinous and delicious tasting, but then as I cook it more it loses it and ends up as foul tasting dark water which will absolutely not set.

For instance - I had a pigs' head, which I boiled up for 2 hours to make brawn. I then picked out all the meat etc for the brawn, and took a portion of the water to pour over it. That set wonderfully well and was really gelatinous. I then put all the bones back into the water and put it in a slow cooker for 48 hours, not adding any more water (so not diluting it any more than the bit that I used for the brawn which set fine) but after the 48 hours it just won't set at all, and tastes awful.

Am I overcooking it? When I google for instructions on how to make bone broth, most sources seem to say simmer it for 24-48 hours.

It seems weird that it starts off (after 2-4 hours) setting really well and tasting delicious, but without diluting it any further, just simmering for the extra time stops it from setting completely. It's just horrid tasting brown water now.

Anyone know what I'm doing wrong? Can cooking for too long destroy the gelatin? Or worse - make the fluid bad for you? It sure tastes bad..

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1 Answers

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2944 ยท April 29, 2014 at 12:44 PM

My experieince is that long cooking times seems to render stocks that are not high in gelatin... (that can be after a 1 or 2 batches have been taken though, and the flavour after is very deep and layered... (When I do it I use the pot to cook vegies or some meat and then take them out... ;) )

I think what could be happening with your stock is that the fat is becoming rancid because fo the long boiling. I suggest that after maybe say 8 hours of simmering, or prior, or at the 2 hour point when you remove the meat, that you refigerate the stock and then skim off the fat...

Probably what you will have at this stage will be gelatinous. You could use this for boiling teh bones in again or, as I do, use it for consumption purposes and use fresh water with bones... I find this means that the bulk of the fat isn't being boiled into the water, and anything that does is a small amount leeched from the bones (bones having some fat seemingly...). Flavour and mouthfeel is generally great, very good (even with those that don't 'gel' in the end mostly have some gelatin or fat in there...).

summary: Your stock probably tastes bad because you're overcooking the fat... I'd say, yes, gelatin might degrade, but I don't put stocks in position for thsi to be done... Most caritlage, skin has been eaten or removed by teh stage that the bones are pretty much put at a rolling boil for sustained periods..., or having meat cooked alongside at lower ones... After a couple or few batches there isn't a lot of gelatin visibly in there, but mouthfeel is luxurious so probably there is some... I'm interested to know as well about gelatin, heat and degradation...

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