Failing to make good bone broth!

by (3199) Updated October 20, 2012 at 3:22 AM Created January 25, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Hey everyone, I've been failing to make a good, gelatinous broth lately; it doesn't even turn to jelly upon refrigeration, has little flavour, is too light in colour and very, very fatty.

I did this in a crock pot. I got an organic chicken carcass, first stuck all the bones in a pan of cold water with a little apple cider vinegar, some onions, crushed garlic, and herbs. I brought it to the boil, then transferred it to the slow cooker and cooked it on low for 24 hours. The bones became very, very soft (I ate quite a few alongside my dinner, actually, tasted awesome!)

Why isn't it working? There was still a fair bit of meat on the carcass; perhaps that was the problem?

Thanks in advance to all broth fiends!

Milla :-)

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3929 · January 25, 2012 at 7:37 PM

It could be too much meat. I've had that problem before. The water/vinegar needs exposed bone and cartilage to work on.

Did you try the egg test on your vinegar? I can't remember where I read this post, but a blogger who was having trouble with her broth realized it was her vinegar that was to blame. It seems like vinegar should be vinegar and it all should work the same, but some things that are sold as vinegar don't actually "act like" vinegar, which begs the question what makes it legal to call it vinegar and market it as such? Anyway, to do an egg test, put an egg in a glass of vinegar (enough to cover the egg) and let it sit for 2-3 days. The shell should be gone or almost gone with only a membrane left holding the egg together in an egg shape. If this doesn't happen, then you need to find another vinegar (which the blogger did with much better bone broths to follow).

I tried this test with the three vinegars on my shelf and two performed admirably with no egg shell left after about 2.5 days (a white vinegar and a red wine vinegar). The other one was only partially dissolved after 3 days (a flavored balsamic vinegar).

Kinda fun if you like science experiments!

21258 · January 25, 2012 at 5:55 PM

You'll get the gelatin only in lesser amounts from the marrow.

When preparing your stock, make sure that you also expose as much cartilage from the carcass as possible. This means getting all the knuckle joints from the thighs, the tip of cartilage on the keelbone (the bone between the breast) and chop up the wing tips.

Also, skin will cook down to a significant amount of gelatin with the side-effect of having a lot of fat floating on your broth. If you are chilling the broth, you can peel the solidified fat off and save it for other items (or discard if you are watching PUFA/Omega 6)... so if you can include skin, wingtips, cocks combs, chicken feet, etc... you'll get a bit more collagen into your broth, which will result in a much more gelatinous broth.

37013 · January 25, 2012 at 6:35 PM

My chicken bone broth always includes the joint tissues as well as skin and bones.

Even so, it is not as firm as my beef bone broth. I've always assumed the difference is the difference in mass of marrow and connective tissues--even if you use a lot of poultry bones, the mass of marrow and joint tissues is much less than you'll find in a typical set of beef marrow/joint bones.

Just think of the small circumference of the poultry bones and joints compared to the huge circles in the beef.

3962 · January 25, 2012 at 9:58 PM

I use a pressure cooker, and make mine similarly to this method.

I use the frozen beef bones from the regular grocery stores, the round kind full of marrow.

Here is another site with instructions. Some folks roast the bones first. I don't.

All the best to you.:)

2954 · January 25, 2012 at 9:29 PM

The only way I can make gelatinous stock; works every single time, and it doesn't matter if the bones are grass or grain fed, organic or not, is...
- Roast the bones until very well browned.
- Remove from oven and immediately place in a stock-pot with very cold water.

The bones must be hot from the oven; the water must be cold.
This makes sense when you think that when making Jello, you mix hot and cold. Right?

I don't add vinegar or tomato at all. BTW, if you use vegetables (I like carrots and shallots; bay leaf), roast them with the bones. Yum!

65 · January 25, 2012 at 9:19 PM

I have no idea what you did wrong, but I'll tell you what I do and it makes a gelatinous broth every time.

Ingredients: onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bones. For bones I just used the leftovers from what I ate...So for example, 1 large turkey leg bone, and 3 chicken thigh bones.

  1. Put them in crock pot.
  2. Add water up to top.
  3. Add some seasonings (bay leaves, thyme, whatever)
  4. Cook 8 hours on low.
  5. You are done!

12405 · January 25, 2012 at 5:36 PM

I've run into the same problem with the occasional chicken stock, and I'm thinking that it's probably because of the ratio of bones to water in your stock. You might try using more bones, or less water, the next time you do up the broth. That did the trick for me.

8 · October 20, 2012 at 3:22 AM

I made chicken stock last night & put it in the fridge, this morning it is all jelly. I thought I had done something wrong I seriously came online to find out what it means when your stock is like jelly.

Free range chickens probably have a lot lower fat content, so you would definitely need more than just bones, and any meat left on should be the darkest stuff off the legs and back, all the tendons, etc., and pull off all the white meat. Tendons and cartilage break down into the greatest silky smooth oily gravy, so that's probably helpful in the jelly. You MUST use the skin, and the neck and innards if you have them. Here in Sweden the leg is cut below the drumstick joint, so there's a part of that gross yellow foot on there (you know the chicken WEIGHS more that way) but I put that in the stock too.

Just finished reading the comments and it seems to me, it's the FAT and probably marrow that helps make the jelly. I noticed a lot of people said 'roasted' bones were better and I DID use roasted chicken last night. Marrow oil would extrude from the bones more easily.

The chicken I used was precooked roasted little 1 lb chickens (2). I peeled off the skin and put that in the stock, I used the entire wingtip and that stupid part of the wing where the meat is stuck between two bones into the stock unskinned & meat still on. Other than that the only meat I left on was weird tendon looking and dark cartilage looking junk. I pulled off all meat I thought was right away edible. Tried not to leave any breast meat on the carcass. All bones apart at the joints.

Dutch oven, water in the pot until the bones were covered 2 - 3 inches over, set the stovetop on 4, cooked until it boiled then lowered to 1. 2 hours later I put 2 carrots, 3 celery sticks, an onion, and 2 bay leaves in it, then 2 more hours - that was it. No 24 hour cooking or any of that. All bones were completely separated and some dark meat had fallen off into the stock. I strained it, put the stock in the fridge, and this morning - TOTAL jelly. I usually always use my stock straight away, so I didn't know it jellied like that.

OH, yeah, I DID NOT ADD ANY EXTRA WATER while it was cooking. Don't know if that makes a difference, but it seems like you might definitely want to end up with LESS water than you started with, just like making a thick sauce.

Also, I never turned the heat up to the highest to get it boiling, I started at a 4, waited until it boiled - which took a bit - then turned it down to 1, leaving the lid on. So maybe I don't lose as much water as full roiling boil where you have to add water, but the water level never went down very much anyway.
hanks, and all the rest of you

All that crap about ice cubes or ice water, all of those steps are completely unnecessary, I know that much. Sure it's perfect jelly, but it probably would have been without the ice cube step anyway.

People make too much out of something very simple. You need fat and marrow to make jellied stock.

25 · May 24, 2012 at 1:44 AM

I make it both ways...sometime with bones saved over from a roasted chicken, and sometime with just raw necks and backs, with all the skin/fat/meat left on. The chicken I use is always free-range pastured organic (never "caged" organic). I don't have a crock pot or slow cooker, and simply make mine on the stove. Sometimes I just use bones and water and sometimes I'll add herbs and veggies with the variety depending on what I have on hand or what I'm planning on using that particular batch of broth for. I cover the bones with purified water, bring it to a good boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for a few hours (anywhere between three and six hours) giving it a good stir every 30 minutes or so. Periodically I add more water, but since I don't measure anything I'd say probably not more than 2 additional cups. Afterward I strain the broth (I just use a stainless colander) into a stainless bowl and quick chill the broth by setting the bowl containing the broth into a larger bowl that contains ice water. As soon as it's cooled, I cover it and put it in the refrigerator to set overnight. It never fails to turn into a nice, thick gelatin by morning.

4888 · January 26, 2012 at 8:37 AM

I always roast the bones, or use the carcas from a roast chicken. Juice of a lemon, no vinegar.And no veg. Just enough water to cover - if there is too much water, then the gelatine is too dilute to "set". Cook either in a pressure cooker for about an hour, or in a slow cooker for about 8 / 10 hours. If you cook too long, the gelatine can start to degrade which again means no gelling.

If you can get a few chickens feet, or a calf foot split to go in with the chicken bones, so much the better.

But in my book, it is a) not too much water b) cook long enough to dissolve the gelatinous bits but not longer.

1602 · January 26, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Ive found that I need to roast the chicken or beef roast before using the bones. I have no idea why it works but it seems to release all the goodness!! When I make a whole chicken I don't put anything on it. It sacrifices "fancy" flavors in the meat maybe..but when I take the whole carcass (after meat has been removed) and dump all the juices from the roast..yeah..awesome!

2012 · January 26, 2012 at 7:36 AM

Was the chicken cooked before the carcass was made into soup? Roasting the bones can bring out a lot more flavor.

Also, although I don't like celery in just about any other form, I find that chicken stock without onions, celery, carrots, and bay leaf tastes like it's lacking something.

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