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Is perpetual bone broth safe?

by (346)
Updated about 3 hours ago
Created February 09, 2012 at 10:15 AM

I'm always trying to make healthy cooking more convenient for myself and was inspired by this article: http://nourishedkitchen.com/perpetual-soup-the-easiest-bone-broth-youll-make/

Basically the author has a bone broth (with vegetables) cooking in a slow cooker constantly for one week. Her family are constantly downing the stuff, and she just adds more water as necessary.

I've started doing this myself, but am concerned about vegetables being in there for a week. Is the temperature enough to keep the bacteria at bay or should I be concerned?

What about if I occasionally cooked meat in the perpetual broth too. This would just be for a short time, not the whole week, but then little scraps would inevitably get left in the broth for the whole week.

If the bones last longer than a week, do you think it's safe to carry on cooking the same broth or is there a time-limit?

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37177 · October 08, 2012 at 5:55 PM

I've done all of those, plus the oven, but nowadays I use a crock pot.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Indeed I can see that. Just take a little gelled broth and beat with a vinegar or a citrus. Sounds awesome. You just made me a recipe, anand.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:14 AM

Stewing over a gas or electric flame or crock pot?

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Whenever I make a broth I always skim the fat and try to use it for something.

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5132 · March 29, 2012 at 12:01 AM

The reason people are throwing away the fat is just for the smell? That's it?

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78407 · February 10, 2012 at 3:35 AM

You're the pro Nance! Just doesn't sound good to me.

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10919 · February 09, 2012 at 9:58 PM

I only save it if it's beef or duck fat. I don't really like chicken fat.

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37177 · February 09, 2012 at 8:27 PM

@sage, I remove the bones and I can't cite science but in my anecdotal experience a broth/stew is more likely to go bad if the large bones remain. Once they're totally clean, I remove the bones but all the gooey and meaty bits are fine.

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37177 · February 09, 2012 at 8:25 PM

I respect your opinion, AnnaA, but in my actual practices it's the opposite. A fresh one-skillet meal is nothing compared to the prep and care I invest over a 2-week period with my stews, cooking/re-heating/adding fresh veggies, etc. And definitely worth the effort.

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4111 · February 09, 2012 at 8:02 PM

I'd save that fat for cooking vegetables. In a separate plastic bag or container though. It makes bell peppers taste even better if you use it as a cooking fat.

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24528 · February 09, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Both good ideas.

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10255 · February 09, 2012 at 3:22 PM

is it safe to assume you leave the bones in the entire week?

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18635 · February 09, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Looks to have plenty of nutrition at weeks end to me....tip: use the joint bones (cow knuckle and such). http://www.traditional-foods.com/bone-broth/

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4991 · February 09, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I can't see there being much flavour or nourishment by the end of the week! I use a chicken carcass to make broth and then chuck the bones - one good cook and I reckon they are depleted.

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10 Answers

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843 · February 09, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Well if we talk about traditions, Thai people have a tradition of broths. Some vendors in Bangkok would have their broths running for years. They just serve from that and replenish it whenever needed. Will that be unhealthy? I don't think so.

There are so many things that you want to get from food. Minerals and vitamins. Vitamins you get from fresh things, minerals from cooked foods. Ofcourse there will be an overlap.

Think of bone broths or even vegetable broths as mineral sources rather than vitamin sources. Cook the broth and then use it with fresh sauteed vegetables, or as dressings.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Indeed I can see that. Just take a little gelled broth and beat with a vinegar or a citrus. Sounds awesome. You just made me a recipe, anand.

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10919 · February 09, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I make perpetual broth. The best way to keep it from going funky is to skim the fat within the first day or so and bring it up to a boil once a day for a few minutes but not longer.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Whenever I make a broth I always skim the fat and try to use it for something.

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5132 · March 29, 2012 at 12:01 AM

The reason people are throwing away the fat is just for the smell? That's it?

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10919 · February 09, 2012 at 9:58 PM

I only save it if it's beef or duck fat. I don't really like chicken fat.

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4111 · February 09, 2012 at 8:02 PM

I'd save that fat for cooking vegetables. In a separate plastic bag or container though. It makes bell peppers taste even better if you use it as a cooking fat.

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24528 · February 09, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Both good ideas.

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10255 · February 09, 2012 at 3:24 PM

i could never reconcile the use of electricity. but i'm old and still shut down my computer when i am not using it.

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37177 · February 09, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Most of my bone broth stews take closer to 2 weeks than one to finish.

I strongly disagree with andrew about "I can't see there being much flavour or nourishment by the end of the week!" because the stew gets yummier and yummier and I scrape the final bits out of the pot with relish.

My large batch of stew winds up in 2 glass keepers in the fridge. I eat out of them alternately, re-heating my portion in a skillet with gentle heat while I eat fruit and a salad. If they last a week (they usually do) I give whatever's left at the one-week point a brief boil and 15-minute simmer and it goes back into the fridge, perhaps in one keeper. During the second week, I tend to add new vegetables to the re-heated portions but the meat and veggies in the "old" part only taste better to me with the additions.

It boils down to what you like. I like stews with lots of different vegetables, some barely cooked and some cooked to within an inch of their lives. Since I greedily drink and eat the whole thing and totally thrive on it I don't believe for a minute that it's either nutritionally exhausted or unsafe.

Note: When I put my finished stew into the keepers, the bones are already gone. I always slow-cook the bones and gristle and remove the clean bones before adding any vegetables. Any small bits of bone that remain are so soft that I just chew them up and eat them.

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37177 · October 08, 2012 at 5:55 PM

I've done all of those, plus the oven, but nowadays I use a crock pot.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:14 AM

Stewing over a gas or electric flame or crock pot?

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2240 · February 09, 2012 at 1:32 PM

I tried making it once, but found that it was stressing me out having something I was cooking "run in the background" for days at a time like that.

So far I'm having satisfactory results with 20-24 hour broths once or twice a week which I usually start in the evening after dinner. Half the time this involves just adding to whatever I cooked for dinner in the crock pot.

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15 · September 04, 2013 at 8:12 PM

I have had a crockpot of perpetual broth going for over two years now. Same crockpot, I keep waiting for it to quit but it doesn't! I have a constant & deliciously warm supply of broth and have seen zero change in my electricity bill. There must be some cost but it is not showing up. Perhaps not having to keep warming up cold broth all the time is helping. Each evening I full with water again. Sometimes in the middle of the week I will add more gelatin, salt, tumeric as mentioned in ingredients.

Here is my method:

Ingredients are bones (my choices - chicken, goose, duck - can be combined), turmeric, salt, apple cider vinegar. I do add grass raised powdered gelatin to give it & my insides a boost. Often I will add well washed eggshells for calcium, dry kelp flakes for iodine. That is it - no veggies for they turn to mush which collects on the sides of the pot in a most unattractive way.

Once a week, Sunday being my rhythm, I add another chicken carcass, or bony pieces (neck bones, thighs, etc) and some of each of the ingredients mentioned above. On occasion, when I notice that there seems to be more bone than liquid in the pot I use a slotted spoon to scoop out the bones before the weekly refresh.

I am a health care professional who works with people with digestive issues. I have a tricky tummy myself if not cared for properly. This method causes far more cure and far less upset than the quicker (including 24 hour) methods, in my experience. It is deeply nourishing & highly digestible.

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3690 · March 28, 2012 at 11:23 PM

I sure hope it's safe. I've been going a month with a batch of bones. I could probably eat the bones by now.

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4111 · February 09, 2012 at 3:32 PM

You could also cook it for a hour in a pressure cooker. Nom NOm Paleo talks about this. Its pretty cool. Also I save the bones for a future bone soup.

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18635 · February 09, 2012 at 1:50 PM

I've done this for longer than a week. There are a few comments about reduced nutritional quality. I don't necessarily agree or disagree. With cow knuckle you can get at least a few good gelatinous broths and then you will still get the minerals as they seep. With the veggies....well I don't add those till the end anyhow and I use that as vegetable soup.

The bones I get are not inexpensive, and I have a couple of kids that dig the broth now so this is absolutely the optimal way in my house.

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78407 · February 09, 2012 at 12:43 PM

I think the temperature would keep the bacteria at bay alright, but the texture of the vegetables would turn to mush and the nourishment of the bone broth would diminish as the water diluted it.

It is just a bit too lazy for me.

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78407 · February 10, 2012 at 3:35 AM

You're the pro Nance! Just doesn't sound good to me.

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37177 · February 09, 2012 at 8:25 PM

I respect your opinion, AnnaA, but in my actual practices it's the opposite. A fresh one-skillet meal is nothing compared to the prep and care I invest over a 2-week period with my stews, cooking/re-heating/adding fresh veggies, etc. And definitely worth the effort.

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