By Cassie Johnston
Instant Pot, Paleo
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A few years ago, when I heard the term “bone broth” getting thrown around for the first time, my initial thought was um, isn’t chicken broth already made with bones? It wasn’t until about a year ago that I found out that bone broth is different from regular chicken stock because it uses a long cooking time to extract as much nutrition out of the bones as possible. Basically, regular chicken stock uses the bones for flavor. Bone broth uses the bones for flavor and nutrition.
The resulting broth from long-simmering is totally delicious, of course, but even beyond that, it’s a powerful nutritional supplement. In fact, I only started making bone broth regularly after two separate doctors (one crunchy granola doc and one decidedly not crunchy granola doc) recommended I start having at least a cup of it a day as part of my Lyme treatment protocol. Bone broth walks the line between food and medicine in a way that few other foods do. And it certainly tastes a lot better than most medicines do!
The nutritional profile of bone broth depends widely on the kind of bones you use (you can use chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish—anything!), your cooking time, and the way the animals were raised (grass-fed and pasture-raised animals will give you more nutrient density). But there are a few common things about bone broth that make it so awesome:
You can use bone broth just like you would any other stock or broth. Use it as the base of soups. Use it to cook grains. Use it to make casseroles. Many bone broth fans also prefer to drink bone broth straight—as a sipping broth.
The long-simmering of the broth gives it a complex, rich flavor that is cozy, comforting, and warm. I personally love having bone broth as a nightcap! The gelatin in the broth helps promote a restful night’s sleep, which makes it the perfect before bed drink.
Of course, you can also freeze your bone broth—which is something I do regularly. I prefer to avoid plastic when it comes to my food, so I use wide mouth pint-and-a-half Mason glass jars to freeze my bone broth. These are the largest Mason jars that are freezer-friendly, and the three cup measure works really well for all my cooking and sipping needs.
Unfortunately, the pint-and-a-halfs can be hard to track down sometimes, so wide mouth pints are a good alternative. Just fill to the freezer line on the jar, put on a cap, label, and stash it in the freezer until needed.
You can buy bone broth now at most larger supermarkets, but the convenience comes at a hefty price—about $6 a quart. Good thing it’s easy and super affordable to make bone broth at home! If you’ve ever made chicken stock before, the process is almost exactly the same, the main difference being you just simmer your broth a lot longer.
You can use bones from any animal, but the most common are chicken or beef. In our house, we only make beef bone broth occasionally, and when we do, we head to our local health food store and pick up grass-fed local beef soup bones. Then I roast them (roasting gives a nice flavor), and turn them into beef bone broth.
Much more frequently though, we make chicken bone broth. Mostly because it is an almost completely “free” endeavor for us!
Each week, we roast a chicken. The carcass from that chicken goes directly into a batch of bone broth. We add in some veggie scraps that we’ve saved in a bag in the freezer (mostly just onions, celery, carrots, and garlic), apple cider vinegar (this helps to release the nutrients in the bones), salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, and water.
I usually make my chicken bone broth either in the Instant Pot (instructions below) or on the stovetop if my Instant Pot is otherwise occupied (stovetop instructions also below). You can also do it in your slow cooker (and yes, those instructions are also below). After two hours in the Instant Pot or about 24 hours on the stovetop, I have chicken bone broth!
I strain it using a fine mesh sieve and then pour into jars for freezing. A layer of fat will solidify at the top of the broth after chilling—you can scoop that off and use it like any other cooking oil. I like to use it to sauté onions!
Once you’ve nailed down your perfect pot of bone broth, you’ll always have that at your disposal, but there might be some trial-and-error along the way. Let me cover some of the questions I had when I first started bone broth-ing.
My main reason for drinking bone broth is to help with joint pain associated with Lyme disease. The bacteria that cause Lyme actually feeds on the collagen in joints (which is why severe joint pain is a common Lyme symptom). When I keep up with my daily bone broth habit, I feel noticeably less achiness and stiffness in my knees, hips, and rib cage. I have genetically weak knees, and I plan on keeping up with bone broth to help keep my knees as happy and healthy as long as possible! Enjoy!
Bone broth walks the line between food and medicine in a way that few other foods do. It is super affordable to make, too!
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Great article! I loooove bone broth. Anyone interested in this stuff should definitely check out the book Everyday Roots. It teaches you how to replace all the toxic chemicals in your life with healthy organic alternatives. Its completely changed my life and how I feel everyday! :)
Keep up the great content!
Yes! I have been waiting on this post for a long time!! Thank you for sharing this. Got an instant pot for xmas and have made broth in it already, but wasn’t sure what the differences were between all the different broths/stocks. I knew bone broth was good for you – but wasn’t aware of just HOW good!
This was very helpful!
Should more water be added if it boils away below the bone?
Yes, you can always add more, although, I’d recommend keeping the simmer low enough to not really evaporate much at all. Thanks!
Thank you for the simple (and clear) instructions. I am new to instant pot cooking and thought I would try this. I feed my dog a raw diet that I make from home and it appears that his scraps are my food instead of the other way around. spoiled dog :-)…
Hi Cassie, please don’t mistake to infer a definite outcome from the possible findings in single research studies. You quote several studies in the gelatin section, some that relate to collagen, some to gelatin, 1 to glycine. Consumed proteins of all kinds are digested into amino acids then redistributed around the body for new protein-building purposes. This is true of steak, bone broth, chicken livers or soya beans. You can’t eat collagen and then infer that the collagen is transported to the “collagen deficient” parts of your body. It simply doesn’t work that way. Nothing wrong with a cup of bone broth but you should be careful implicating the ingredients as a specific health cure from a handful of articles. A heavy weight of journal articles – by all means infer away. 1 article, no please.
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