Dear Mark: Bone Broth Nutrients and Alternatives to Agriculture

Bones for BrothToday’s edition of Dear Mark is a two-parter. First, I dig a bit deeper into the nutrients found in bone broth. A reader’s come across some startling nutritional data that seems to call into question the legitimacy of our community’s collective love affair with hot bone water. Find out if we’ve been overselling the benefits. Then, I discuss humankind’s tendency to (try to) tame, quell, counteract, and otherwise improve on nature’s mysterious workings. Can we come up with a viable alternative to agriculture, often characterized as our most egregious offense?

Let’s go:


I know in the primal/paleo world, bone broth is considered a superfood. I always have some in my fridge, and consume it almost daily. I investigated the nutrient content of beef bone broth, and was pretty disappointed. First, there are very few studies that break down the nutrient profile of bone broth. And second, the few that are out there paint a pretty dull picture of bone broth. A one-cup serving provides a measley 9% calcium, 3% magnesium, and on and on ad nauseum. I thought I would bring it up to see if you had other sources of info, and maybe consider doing a post about it sometime. No doubt, the entire MDA community would be interested! Thanx!


Good question, great name, interesting spelling.

I have taken a look at the (limited) research available on the nutrient contents of bone broth. One study in particular caught my eye where veal bones were sliced open to expose the marrow, placed in water with some acetic acid (vinegar), and boiled for nine hours. As you mention in your question, the mineral loss from bones into the broth was extremely unimpressive – just a few milligrams of calcium and magnesium. Gelatin was the only nutrient of note found. And in the most unexpected turn of events, bones that were placed in room temperature water for nine hours actually gave off more minerals than the boiled bones. Weird, huh?

I was certainly surprised when I first read it, but ultimately not dissuaded from my continual pursuit of delicious bone broth. Here’s why I don’t put much stock in these results.

Nine hours isn’t enough time to really break down ruminant bones like veal. When you get into 24-hour stock territory where the fork plunges into the femur bone or 36 hours where the knuckle crumbles in your hands and the resultant stock turns cloudy with dissolved bone solids, there’s got to be something more going on than just a few milligrams. Nine hours will get most of the exterior collagen, but that’s about it. Many of the best nutrients are locked within the bones themselves, including minerals and more collagen (used to make bones slightly elastic). Pressure cooking can significantly cut down the required time if you don’t want to have the stove going for two days.

Even if the study’s results do apply to pressure-cooked and long-simmered bones and “real” broth contains very few minerals, broth ultimately isn’t only about the minerals. Bones contain far more interesting compounds than just calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus (besides, we can get all that stuff from our food):

Gelatin – I won’t talk too much about gelatin because I do so on a regular basis. Rest assured, though: it’s probably the most important reason we should take the time to make bone broth. Yes, you can get your gelatin in powder form, but that won’t get you the following bone nutrients.

Hyaluronic acid – Synovial fluid, that slippery lubricant inhabiting our joint capsules and making them glide safely and smoothly together, is mostly hyaluronic acid. Race horses with bad osteoarthritis get intra-articular shots or IVs of synovial fluid to treat their condition, and studies on oral administration indicate that hyaluronic acid is the main player. You can also find hyaluronic acid in the bones and the connective tissue (usually attached to the bones). Seeing as how a high-hyaluronic acid extract of chicken combs (the fleshy red waddle that sits atop a chicken’s head) improved quality of life and reduced pain in patients with osteoarthritis, making and drinking broth from those parts (not necessarily the combs, although go for it if you have access to them) should also help.

Chondroitin sulfate – Chondroitin sulfate is a popular joint health supplement, often paired with glucosamine. Does it work? Many people will vociferously claim it’s bunk. I’ll just say that the humans participating in the study which found that six months of chondroitin sulfate supplementation reduced cartilage loss in patients with osteoarthritis probably have a different opinion. Except for the folks who got the placebo, that is. Seeing as how those supplements get the chondroitin sulfate directly from animal cartilage, why not just eat the cartilage, or a broth made with plenty of cartilaginous substrate? The stuff works and it’s delicious when you get it right from the bones. The keel cartilage of the chicken back bone is a particularly rich source of the stuff and highly water-soluble, according to one paper (PDF).

If only we could figure out a humane, sustainable way to tap the suprapatellar pouch of a live grass-fed steer and draw out the synovial fluid. You have to think that would make the ultimate joint supplement, right?

Hi Mark,

You often hear that agriculture was “humankind’s greatest mistake” in this community and I think I agree but what’s the solution now? We’re stuck with it and we have to feed all these people somehow. Are there any viable alternatives?



Another Marc, eh? Weird.

It does seem like we’re in a pickle, huh?

We humans think we’re pretty good at conquering nature. We “tame” it. We put up walls, raze forests, lay down roads and think we’ve figured it out. Only things don’t really work out so great. Unintended consequences always seem to arise.

We forgo the nomadic hunter-gatherer life to live in close quarters with each other and our livestock in order to keep death and malnutrition at bay – only to develop virulent infectious diseases that often originate in the livestock, spread from person to person due to cramped conditions, and continue to plague us to this day.

We sterilize things, manage to avoid the acute germs, keep our homes clean – but then end up with bad immune systems and imbalanced gut flora that lead to chronic autoimmune disease and allergies.

We convert vast reams of prairie teeming with wild grasses we cannot eat into cropland that produces billions of calories – but then end up with nutrient-sparse/energy-rich diets, rampant obesity, and a rapidly disappearing topsoil unfit to grow anything of worth.

We devise genetically modified organisms with immunity to herbicides so that we can blanket the crops with the herbicides in order to boost production and make up for the poor topsoil – only to create herbicide-resistant weeds that lower production and necessitate the use of more and even stronger herbicides.

Each one of our perfect solutions to the “nature problem” comes with baggage because nature is impossibly complex. It’s the result of billions of years of constant, unceasing refinement in response to billions of shifting variables. We’re discovering new genes, new bioactive plant compounds, new species, new roles for DNA we previously assumed to be “junk.” And really, it’s not that “we’re” discovering it. It’s this team of researchers in Beijing discovering that, that team in British Columbia stumbling upon this, this garage scientist in a Dutch suburb discovering that. It’s individuals, or groups of individuals. Yes, the Internet has made knowledge easier to share and more widely accessible, but the sheer breadth of it all is staggering and only getting more so. It’s hard to account for a bit of data when you’re unaware of its existence.

As far as the agriculture problem, I really don’t know. I am intrigued by the permaculture movement. Rather than start in the lab and force their findings on nature, they start with nature, observe its patterns and laws, and use the lab to enhance them. They rightly acknowledge that the “natural way” – whatever that is – of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other denizens of the soil all interacting is the most sustainable and perhaps even productive way to grow food. They also realize that rather than oppose nature, we can use science to enhance its processes. For example, decomposition of organic materials happens out in the wild but over a longer timescale. Compost piles do the same thing, only faster, without perverting or counteracting the original premise.

I can’t see the world switching over to a permaculture-based system anytime soon, but is that because of entrenched interests and inertia or a lack of viability? Throw in a little holistic livestock management a la Allan Savory and it seems like you’d have a solid system for producing food.

That’s it for me, folks. I’d like to hear what you guys have to say. Still going to make bone broth? How do you think we should handle food production? I suspect the former will be easier to answer than the latter!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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109 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Bone Broth Nutrients and Alternatives to Agriculture”

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  1. My question is about adding liver to broth to up nutrient density. My kids will not eat liver, but I manage to get bone broth into them. I’m wondering if adding some liver to the broth will give them the same beneficial effects as eating liver. Or, if not the same, at least some benefits.

    1. You could, but the taste most likely would be not palatable. Especially beef liver, which has a strong taste. Try a small batch and see how it tastes. Adding sea weed, like dried kombu to a broth doesn’t impact flavor but has lots of minerals and nutrients too.

      Chili is a good place to hide liver.

      1. I already add kombu (but thanks for the suggestion) and last time put one measly little chicken liver in my chicken bone broth. They haven’t complained, so I may try to up the numbers of chicken liver in there.

        1. Try German Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) – there are gluten free (paleo) variations around – google should help there. Just don’t tell your kids they are made from liver before they have tried their first one – my mum never did and I loved them. 🙂

        2. Like hiding it in chili, you could also make liver broth and use it as the base for a soup.. I’ve got a bowl of something similar beside me right now from cooking liver in some water with stir-fried vegetables and can’t even taste the liver in the broth.

        3. we make burgers with liver. Ground Beef/bison and beef/chicken liver in a 3:1 ratio (any more and the burgers taste like liver). We puree the liver with an egg or two and either pecorino romano or adobo, sometimes with ground dried shiitake mushrooms… then mix that slurry by hand with the ground meat. Make patties and fry away in bacon grease! Place a little avocado and bacon on top, wrap it up in a sheet or two of nori… oh man, I’m getting hungry. For the kids we keep it simple: bunless burger, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli with butter, and (unfortunately) ketchup.

        4. Paul,

          I read about your burgers and ketchup.

          Why not try making your own ketchup?

          It could be a very fun project if your kids really love ketchup. “This is how to make _real_ ketchup.” 😉

    2. My grandma’s sauteed liver and onion recipe is amazing. When I was a kid she’d make it and you could hardly tell it’s liver. Will post a recipe soon.
      Beef tongue was another of her specialties.
      Aaaah, to be a kid again.

      1. Tongue! Yes! Our kids love tongue, though they don’t know what it is. They just know it as that soft, tender meat that resembles pulled pork…

        1. Lingua tacos (tongue) are regular fare on the border. I don’t eat grains nor bread, but an occasional lingua taco esta muy bueno!

      2. Maybe it’s not 100% Primal, but I’ve been adding molasses to liver recently. I don’t measure anything, but I’m guessing it ends up being about a tablespoon. I do it while it’s cooking in the pan. As far as sweetners go, molasses has a decent nutrient profile, and it gets me to eat liver a little more regularly.

        1. Balsamic vinegar is good with liver. Sautee the liver a couple of minutes on each side in olive oil or butter, or both. Take the liver out of the pan and add the onions and cook until soft, then add a good amount of balsamic and reduce for two or three minutes. Pour over liver and sprinkle some chopped parsley on top. The sweet and sour quality of the balsamic, which is intensified by cooking, cuts the richness of the liver nicely.

    3. I add beef or chicken liver to ours… a fair amount and it hasn’t affected the taste (surprisingly!). I figure it can’t hurt! My kids will eat bone broth, too, but not liver. I haven’t grown to love the taste of it yet either.

    4. Oh, come on now – the study cited is from 1929! 85 plus years ago? Seriously. If it wasn’t good for you, we wouldn’t have been doing it for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. I’m not a pale, but I love the stuff. And, you must boil the beef bones for at least 48 hours, not 9. Chicken bones – 24 hrs.

  2. So should we be SOAKING our bones instead of boiling them? Or maybe soaking them, saving the water, and refilling the pot with clean water for boiling afterward, then once cooled, re-combining the two waters?

    1. Using a pressure cooker on big bones with mirepoix (2:1:1 onion, celery, carrot), spices, a bit of acid, makes a nice, non gelatin stock. Set this stock aside. Using a heavy bottom stock pot re-use the bones with a new mirepoix. acid, and fresh cold water. Always start with cold water and let this simmer overnight on low keeping the stock mostly covered. Once reduced the color should be dark and the bones well spent. Pitch the first stock back in bring to a boil, filter, and refrigerate to add more volume. That will make a very nice beef jelly/stock.

      I usually start with frozen bones directly into the pressure cooker. Otherwise at room temp smear tomato paste on the bones and roast the bones before adding to the pressure cooker for a deeper, darker flavor. Tomatoes are naturally acidic and at glutamates. Avoid tomatoes if you have an issue with nightshades.

      1. Wow “Ron” I picture me sitting on a stool in your kitchen watching you create good food. Thanks for all the information!
        I am out of broth and will break out the bones I saved from round one in the crock pot and just leave them in for a few days…… maybe a tiny chicken liver? We’ll see, I like the idea of it but the gag-fests of childhood “eating” liver and onions (thankfully the dog liked them) kind of has me a bit shy to add them, here goes one toe ……. he, he, he.
        :- P

        1. Another tasty source of liver is liverwurst or braunschweiger. Just stay away from the over-processed brands. There’s a brand made in Denver from Continental Sausage that only lists pork, pork liver, sea salt, onions, spices and water in the ingredients. Delicious with cheese and mustard or diced and added to a salad.

      2. I can see it now; Bon Rurgendy:

        “I dabble…” [as he takes the stock pot and spices out of his sleeve] “This is embarrassing… I’m not prepared, I’m really not prepared at all…”

    2. You know, I think Mark a while back suggested letting bones soak for an hour or two before starting to cook, especially if the bones were frozen. Might be worth it to them them soak for a few hours with vinegar, and then proceed to cook them for another 24 hours or so.

  3. Those who suffer from migraines should be aware and watch for issues. I have come to realize that it was my bone broth and gelatin (capsules) caused major migraine issues. I am allergic to MSG and had no idea that something so natural could cause the exact same reaction.

    1. I am glad you mentioned this. I had to stop making bone broth for the same reason! My son is recovering from 2 concussions which affected whole body function. I was making bone broth and kombucha…then realized he frequently complained about nausea and increased headache after…it was the free glutamates. We both do better with quick boiled, meat broth, but still feel the effects a little.

      1. Glutamates are also in high concentrations in fermented foods.

      2. In the modern world, you show people you care by sending them a msg on their birthday.

      3. I had to stop having bone broth because it affected me. I think it is due to histamines due to the long, slow cooking, & gelatin is a source of histamines. I find that I am very affected by histamines.

        1. Yes, I was curious if it was the histamine content or the free glutamates. After many hours reading about both and checking other reactions, I think there is a close relationship…there were many common foods to avoid. End result, we try to avoid long-slow cooking or fermented, and stick with fresh and quickly cooked or raw.

  4. Yes, I’m still going to make bone broth. However, chicken and pork bones tend to be soft and crumbly after about 12 hours, cow bones need probably 24 hours, maybe more. Of course, I guess one could smash them open with a hammer, or cut them with a hacksaw and that would expose more of the bone (and marrow) to the boiling process.

    At this point in our history we’ll never get rid of agriculture, unless you want a few billion people to die. However, it seems that small, organic farms and garden plots can feed the world. They seem to be doing it in Russia as this article says:

    I put “small organic farms feed Russia” and got ten sites on the first page. The link above was the first one.

  5. Generally what I do is I boil the carcass of roasted chicken (or whatever it is) for only a couple of hours to make broth. The resulting broth is far cloudier and stronger in taste than boiling un-roasted bone for hours on end. After just 1-2 hours the bones are so soft and pliable, I can crush them with my fingers.

    Then again, I have no idea if this indicates a greater amount of minerals or just over cooked bone.

    1. I don’t know about the minerals either, but you definitely have more time available for other pursuits.

    2. I do the same, roast a chicken and enjoy the meat, then put the remaining carcass with bits of meat still attached into a pan and boil, then simmer with water for an hour or so. I drain off the liquor and set aside, It’s easy then to pull apart the remaining bones and retrieve any meat pieces which I keep. The pile of bones that are left go back into the pot with more water and I boil then simmer that whilst I chop up some veggies. Drain the liquor again and add to the first lot and pile all the veggies and recovered meat in and simmer for 30 mins. Add spices herbs as desired. For a curried twist I’ll add can of coconut milk and use curry spices. This generally makes 4 good servings from a medium chicken which doubles the numbers of meal from it.

      Glad to read Mark saying chicken spin is such a good source of goodies.

      1. Ah, now I feel like a fool. When I roast a chicken I end up pulling off all the meat I can and then tossing the carcass. I should make bone broth out of the carcass. Never thought to do that. Thanks.

    3. I do that too.
      However, does anybody know whether it’s safe to use broth that has been sitting in room temperature for a couple of days? I did that unfortunately and decided to toss it. It didn’t taste funky but it was so cloudy I thought something might have set up shop there… now I’m thinking I might have made a mistake. Maybe if you make sure to let it simmer every day for a while, nothing would be able to grow in there.
      Does anybody know?

      1. Broth is an excellent medium for bacteria, so it should be chilled quickly if it’s going to be saved and used long-term. I’ve read about some cooks who leave the pot on the stove with the lid on and just re-heat every day, bringing it to a boil to kill anything that might have started up. The only problem with that is that certain bacteria create toxins, so even if they’ve been killed by boiling and can no longer set up camp in your digestive tract, the toxins can’t be eliminated and can make you really sick.

        1. Thanks for the great answer!
          That was what I was worried about too. Although I was thinking more about fungi and mycotoxins. But yes, bactrial toxins shouldn’t be underestimated too.

  6. This summer I am going to create a hogulkultur in an attempt to be less reliant on commercial food and to grow more nutrient dense vegetables and herbs. Hogulkultur seems to be quasi-permaculture and looks pretty easy/low maintenance…would love to see the effects if people all over the world tried to grow at least a portion of their food…whether in their backywards or in some pots on an apartment balcony.

  7. Marc writes: “I investigated the nutrient content of beef bone broth, and was pretty disappointed.”

    I could say the same about the flavor. Having made bone broth several times, both with fresh bones and chicken or turkey carcasses, I’d have to agree with my mother’s statement that you can’t make good broth from nothing but bones. Or maybe bone broth isn’t supposed to taste good, particularly after you’ve added vinegar. Like Marc, I, too, question the nutritional value. IMHO, the result isn’t worth the effort.

    As for gelatin, if you make soup from scratch with really meaty bones such as short ribs or a whole chicken, along with veggies, simmered for a mere 3 or 4 hours, you will have a flavorful, nutritious broth containing plenty of gelatin. It sets up and thickens in the fridge overnight.

    1. This is why i usually start out boiling bones and then using the broth as a soup base. Tastes way better.

    2. I make beef broth, and the first cup I drink is always sooo delicious, and the next cup always makes me think of a wet dog! I prefer to use it as a liquid to sautee vegetables in, or add it to stir-fries.

      1. I turn this into French onion soup (sans bread, obviously). I could have this every day, and sometimes do.

    3. Making your broth with *meaty* roasted bones (preferably some with skin still on) is the way to go for flavour. Of course, whatever veggies you want to add as well. I’ve also found a big difference in reducing the broth after it’s done cooking & been strained, by about 1/4 to 1/3 its amount.

      1. Sorry…meant “found a big difference in flavour when I reduce the broth after it’s done cooking” etc.

  8. Definitely not going to stop making and drinking bone broth!

    So happy to see Allan’s work finally getting the attention it deserves! If anyone wants more information about holistic management and the Savory Institute check out the link below (along with the TED talk Mark linked to)

  9. Ox tails produce wonderful flavor and lots of gelatin when you add them to slow cooker stews.

  10. Yepppp. Bone broth is more than just gelatin, although I’m a big fan of gelatin by itself too. 🙂 Hence why my food blog is all about gelatin/bone broth…

    I love to make soups with bone broth. I also love to make “bone broth” out of meatier bits, so the resultant broth is much tastier!

  11. It is interesting the note what would happen if the original herds of buffalo still populated the great plains instead of fields of waving grain. If you take the peak estimates as correct, then harvest about 10% of them per year, you end up with almost enough protein for everyone in the entire US. This ignores the endless other natural ways to grow protein. I think we could supply food for everyone in the world a primal matter, but it would be a food collection and distribution system very different than we use today.

  12. I don’t have a problem with agriculture: thanks to it large quantities of people could be fed, large populations were a great advantage for enhanced division of labor. You have your nice smartphone and had a nice MRI thanks to agriculture.
    But today, we know better and we already have civilization. We can have the best of both worlds.

    1. Thank to it, there are billions of starving people and our species faces extinction in less than a century. But indeed we do have the best of both worlds in the West, so enjoy it while it lasts. There’s probably less than 1 year left to enjoy, anyway.

      1. Sorry about being boringly neutral here, but Wildgrok, you’re being too positive and p01, you’re being too negative (or possibly too positive, if you think human extinction would be a good thing!).

        From the start, agriculture has fed greater numbers of people at the expense of equality, health and environmental devastation. Industry and industrial agriculture intensified this. Whereas the equality situation is probably far better than it was in the past, there are still thousands more people living in abject poverty now than there were people in the pre-agriculture age. Health issues caused by agriculture are well-documented, and environment issues are just getting worse… And though I don’t have a smartphone; I do have a computer, but I think I might be happier without it!

        On the other hand, I suspect our species is not going to become extinct in the near future, I think this hundred years will bring huge food crises, environment crises etc., but, if there is a crisis that brings anything close to mass depopulation, ‘some’ people (the richer part of the world) will undoubtedly find a way to survive it. Then, whenever part of the population is depleted, part of the problem disappears.

    2. Yeah Brother! We can have it all. Let’s have more people and even more people. Yeah. And more SMART PHONES. Especially more and more of those. I can hardly wait (ah heck, it’s here already).

      1. I’d just like to point out that the majority of us, including those of us who rant against agriculture, would not be here without agriculture. Nor would we be able to rant on a computer about it to others scattered around the world. It may be nice to think of the human species as being like chimps or gorillas, living in small pods scattered across a vast area with a very low overall population, but ranting against agriculture serves about as much in the long term as ranting against earthquakes or hurricanes. It’s the way the human species evolved and now its up to us to figure out how to make it work without further destruction.

      2. Once an occasional worker at the welfare office said that they could finance a cell phone for me (so they could “get in touch with me easier“). I`d never heard of them doing that for anyone before and haven`t heard of it since. I thought to myself, increased radiation exposure + the police definitely put them up to this so that they could track me and keep tabs easier. I declined. I was asked was I sure and yes, I don`t want a cell phone. Now I can gloat about it if they`re reading: nice try.

  13. Hey Mark once again a very informative article from you! I usually cook up pork bone broth for use as gelatin for my jelly like broth+chicken+veggies dish. This is a ukrainian super delicious dish I love cooking up In my spare time. Pork bone broth gets very gelatin rich and tasty after boiling. I mix it with boiled pulled chicken, onions, carrots and put it all in the fridge in a container over night. And next day I get a super nutritious dish. Pork bones broth contains many healthy supplements found nowhere else. .

  14. I need some advice. I have great success with poultry stock, but not with beef stock. My beef stocks never gel, and the bones never soften. Ever. I assume I am not using enough acid (I use vinegar). I have simmered for 72 and 96 hours, and still no gel. I get wonderful gelatin with the poultry bones (and no acid). Anybody with a general rule of thumb: X pounds of bones (or quarts of water) needs Y ounces of vinegar? Appreciate any insights!

    1. We have opposite problems. I always have lousy luck making chicken stock/soup, but no problem with beef.

      The issue isn’t likely the acid — I don’t even add any — but how much water is involved. Basically, you can have a great beef stock but with enough water so it’ll never really gel.

      It’ll also depend on how much cartilage and meaty bits you have around the bones. Marrow is fab stuff, but if all you’re working with are clean smooth bone sections with marrow in the middle, it’s not likely to gel.

      f you want to cheat a bit, you can actually get Great Lakes gelatin powder and add that. It’s grassfed, even! The bones I use aren’t, but at least I can do that when I want to “beef” it up a bit har har….

      1. I have felt that the amount of acid was too little because the beef bones stay hard as a brick even after 96 hours of simmering! I crack open all of the long bones and joint heads, use reasonably meaty bones, and roast them before simmering. Jen, you are probably right abot the amount of water and lack of gel formation. I have done that before with the poultry stock. The beef stock tastes good, but I don’t think I am getting minerals out of the bones since they never soften up….

        1. Just saying — it is possible to get it to gel even without vinegar and without bones dissolving significantly. Depends what else is in there.

          As I understood it, minerals are not what cause it to gel, it’s collagen. which is a protein.

          Has anyone else seen any evidence that vinegar increases the ability of broth to gel? I mean, it’s an acid… it reacts with bases in the bone (minerals.)

    2. what kinds of beef bones are you using? When I use a beef knuckle, there is a lot of cartilage.I have less luck with marrow bones and other soup bones. I just put it in the crockpot frozen, cover with water and about 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar. It needs to cook over 24 hours on low.

    3. If you can get veal bones, they create a much better stock than beef bones. Younger animals have more collagen, which yields a stock that will set up better. It’s also possible a high acidity might prevent a stock from setting up when chilled (not sure though, but I know it’s true with fruit-based gelatins). Start with at least a couple of gallons of water and cook it down to less than half the original volume.

    4. You need joints or other bones with cartilage to get it to gel. I haven’t had good results from marrow bones. The best results have been with cows feet. There is a lot of collagen there.

      I boil them with some lemon juice. Let them sit over night, covered, and then boil and simmer for hours the next day. I have been able to reuse the bones/cartilage up to 4 times, maybe more. Each time the bone portion becomes more porous and broken down.

  15. I think I’ll sign my next question to MDA as “Marque” and see if it gets answered… 😀

  16. Hey Mark. I think this is the first time i’ve seen permaculture mentioned on your website, which is interesting but nice to see that you haven’t dismissed it offhand. Sometimes it seems the representatives of permaculture aren’t the most convincing. It can be hard to quantify the merit of permaculture in comparison to conventional agriculture, sometimes output per unit land is the only metric considered. I figured I’d share the website of this fella from Vermont (Ben Falk at ) If you haven’t seen it before, it’s worth checking out! He really has a strong vision and great execution. Primalcon – Mad River, Vermont perhaps? Mad River is a really interesting place for foodies. They also have a cooperative licensed food processing center to enable small food producers to bring their products to market without having to deal with lots of the legal and logistic obstacles. (

  17. My soups are so much better tasting since I started making my own bone broth.

  18. In regards to agriculture….

    Some of us could plant edible forest gardens. Info on the web.

    Edible landscapes and backyard gardens would help also.

    Less population is essential in my opinion but religion, politics, poverty and cultural traditions probably won’t let that happen.

  19. my sister used to make bone broth all the time for her kids often adding seaweed. she no longer does it stating that the bones are where most lead is stored. wondering if anyone has heard of this or can comment? Thanks.

    1. I am curious about the seaweed…. When do you add it to the cooking process? As you make the stock? Towards the end of making the stock? When you use the stock to make a soup for a meal? Either?

  20. Regarding agriculture, I think the answer is just one step at a time. There are a few interesting documentaries out there, like “Fresh” and “One Man One Cow One Planet” that show how organic, biodiverse agriculture seems so right. As you say, it’s taking the lead from nature, not trying to impose the unnatural on nature because we think we can make more profits that way. One farm at a time, little by little, we can reverse the tide.

  21. Enlivening pep talk against the perils of agriculture. Boo-yah, I’m going to tip a cow.

  22. A great read to help understand the agriculture issue is The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre. Keith. Lierre is a self-described radical feminist and former 20 years vegan who paid a high price in impacting her health. She nails the un-natural, fundamentally exploitative aspects of modern agriculture. I like the way she uses the term bioicide.

    1. i am re-reading The Vegetarian Myth right now. Her prose is beautiful. I’m enjoying it so much. It’s so interesting the way she describes the destructive force of agriculture – especially monocropping. This is not just about modern agriculture. The fertile crescent has land that is still damaged. There are places in the world where humans learned how to work within their ecosystem. I highly recommend this book.

  23. In defense of agriculture, it did help us do all sorts of things that improve quality of life, in that it freed us up to do civilization-building activities, fancier art, more elaborate science. I don’t consider any of those _inherently_ bad.

    But when taken in the context of the effect on human health, well… more calories aren’t necessarily better. (Unless people are starving to death. Which they still are. ARRGH)

    1. Don’t confuse agriculture with progress. We might have made more, better progress without it. And our ancestors spent around 3-4 hours a day working. Now, who is civilized?

      1. Wow. Speaking as a professional writer, I’m genuinely impressed — in a mere 2.5 lines of text, you have managed to smugly declare me “confused,” posit an irrelevant (yet interesting) sci-fi premise, and redefine the word civilized. Well-played.

        You’ve totally convinced me. Clearly, agriculture has never given us selective advantage on any front, ever. That explains why we never pursued it seriously.

        1. Yeah, I just couldn’t resist throwing a little smug out there myself…

          The first time I drafted that, I actually wrote this whole sincere reply as if that was actually the start of a conversation, to try and tease out what his exact concern was… then realized, oh, nevermind.

  24. Thanks Mark for the excellent link to the Chondroitin study. I am a long time user of Chondroitin supplements and this article is heartening news for me.


  25. I start my bone broth with roasting the bones then add them to water in my slow cooker, add some garden veg with a splash on himalayan rock salt and whatever I feel will add to the broth.
    Cook on high for a few hours, reduce to medium for another period of time then let it warm a while. anything up to 48 hours if my wife can cope.
    The bones crumble and it really tastes good.
    Full of gelatin and flavour.

  26. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the permaculture nod. I believe it is the answer too many questions. Have you or your readers been to Geoff Lawton has basically been handed the permaculture reins from Bill Mollison. If you have the time I highly suggest checking out the “Urban Permaculture” video. It’s amazing what this man is doing in his backyard. Thanks! I love your work!!

    1. I took Geoff Lawton’s online Permaculture Design Course last May and loved every minute of it. And his videos, such as the one you mentioned are all fabulous. I also read and follow Ben Falk(as someone mentioned above) on Facebook, there’s so much good info out there. Permaculture, for me, has gone hand in hand with eating Primal/Paleo. I was already a gardener so it was a natural fit to learn about Permaculture so that I could raise as much as my own food as possible(out in the suburbs), but really expand on my knowledge of composting and working with the land to have it work for you. I don’t have to worry as much about where my food comes from, or if chemicals were used. And the nutrient content goes way up if your shopping in your backyard – there’s no trucking across the country to get it to you!

      1. I love that Mark has mentioned Permaculture, a subject that I think many of his readers may enjoy more information. Agreed, Geoff Lawton and his approach to land management is amazing. It`s more than just gardening, it`s ecological land and resource management and using the wonderful brain we have as humans for good rather than evil.

        From food production, to animal husbandry everything gets connected and nature is the one holding the rule book. The principles are far reaching, beyond the garden and into the social structure of how humans ought to interact with each other and with the land. Definitely work a post Mark!! Geoff Lawton, Larry Korn, the late Fukuoka, Bill Mollison…

    2. Almost a year late, but I came back to say THANK YOU!
      Thank you for pointing me to Geoff’s site.
      Thank you for introducing me to permaculture.
      Thanks to you and Geoff, I now know what I want to do with my life.

      – Bill Colvin

  27. Bone broth…yep. Do that. I hear the complaints that it don’t work. Don’t know why. I buy 1/2 a beef at a time. After all the meat is in the deep freeze I go after the tallow and the bone marrow. (By the way, most custom beef cutters will let me pick up the regular cuts one day and hold the offal or bones or fat trimmings until a while later. At first they are not too sure what I am wanting since they mostly supply muscle meat to their clients. You have to educate them.) The bones go into a large pot (10 gal) with water and some vinegar (not right away) and boil for 20 hours or so. I chill it and reserve the fat and then warm it again and strain it into jars for freezing. For a half a beef it might be 3 to 5 batches. The key issue here is do it! You don’t need a half a beef. One turkey carcass will do. And the fat….well that’s a delicacy well worth saving. Beyond the scope of this reply but 3 days work produced all the fats I will need for a year. Seems economical to me. No?

  28. Woke up to the smell of bones in the crock. I will let the go for another day or two if I can stand the smell. I love the smell of roast but morning, noon, and night? I bit of overload. However, it’ll be nice to have for later. At least I work outside the home so I have a break. I schmered the bones with tomato paste this time, smells and looks better this time, thanks for that tip “Bon” ……..
    If the bones aren’t crumbly I’ll throw them back in the freezer to use again.
    I think the last batch of broth solved my stomach upset that I got after my bout with the noro virus, or is it spelled differently?

  29. Charlie Trotter (deceased) Chicago….put bones in oven 500 two hours,,,, boil/simmer 24 hours w/lots of vegies. skim fat off top every hour THE BEST !!

  30. I’m looking for help for intense hot flashes. I am 52 years old and for the last 4 yrs have suffered from incredible hot flashes day and night. Like being struck by lightening. I’ve tried every menopausal remedy/suggestion/medication there is. Some help ( the HRTs ) for a short period of time. Honestly, I don’t know how I even function anymore with no sleep. Thank you for any help you can offer.

    1. We add beef hooves when making beef broth and pig’s feet when making chicken broth.

  31. For a way that we could manage both plants and animals read the book “Tending the Wild” for a fascinating account of how the Native Americans basically Permaculture managed the entire state of California using intentional planting, controlled burning etc.

    After reading that book, I had a lump of nostalgia in my throat and can’t help but wonder, are we doing things the hard way?

  32. I’ve been studying the permaculture movement for over a year now. It seems almost a natural extension when we start experiencing the benefits or primal / real food movement. Permaculture presents us a variety of unique ways of leveraging the nature as a lab and still successfully make it productive for human needs – without the disturbing effects. Farmers like Joel Salatin have proved this for a long time now. Geoff Lawton has achieved miraculous feats by growing orchards in deserts using permaculture techniques. I see permaculture offering a viable future with land and ecosystems regeneration along with generating everything needed for human consumption. After I explored the concept of food forests, I no longer look at lawns and ornamental plants in public places the same way again. It almost seems like if we embrace the concept of food forests in much of our cities, world hunger is an easier thing to solve. But then again, I don’t own either a corporation or a political party. so who am I to comment 🙂

  33. For an alternative to monocrop, grain based, agriculture check out Mark Shepard’s book Restoration Agriculture or his Acres USA talk on YouTube. He is mimicking the savannah ecosystem of middle America and growing very primal foods. Chestnuts as a staple crop, pastured meats, fruits and more. Very impressive stuff IMHO and one of the best examples of Permaculture on a large scale. He thinks systems like his could feed everyone, and are in fact the only way to do so sustainably.

  34. since i started having my own bone broth, soup/stew, or cook rice. & make source, few years ago, few things happened

    1. joints no pain

    2. bone density increases (that calcium supplements did nothing about)

    3. skin texture improves

    (i’m a soup gal & not a “salad gal”XD i usually use chicken feet: easier (less time + clearer broth) + cheaper, tastes more neutral than beef so more versatile.


  35. Hmm what am I doing wrong? I have 8lbs bones in a pot something for 36 hours. I roasted for two hours previous. I added salt, apple cider vinegar and a little lemon and rosemary. It’s beef knuckle with some marrow containing bones (don’t know names). The whole house smells of boiled fat and the ‘broth’ is very oily, even with my love of fat I wouldn’t drink it. No sediment is forming on the top, just looks smells and tastes like a pot of hot oil… I’ve cooked a chicken carcass in this pot (is not that big) and had great results and my mum and I made great beef broth with less bones in a larger pot. Am I using too small a pot? Do I need more vinegar? Should I remove half the ‘broth’ that I have so far, add more water and boil again? The bones are almost soft enough to put a knife through. I turned off the heat and left the pot on the stove overnight and there appeared to be an oily layer and beneath a swampy cloudy liquid beneath so I’ve just scooped a load into a bowl and put in the fridge to see if I can ‘set’ the fat and pray I discover some liquidlike and drinkable broth beneath. All suggestions welcome.. Me wants this broth!

  36. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker
    who was doing a little homework on this. And he
    actually ordered me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled
    upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this
    subject here on your website.

  37. I’ve started collecting the gelatinous bits when I drain the stock (even scraping them off the bones), pureeing it in the food processor and adding back to the strained stock. Makes a super-rick stock. But about those dissolving bones … I’ve been making bone broth for years with good gel results and have never cooked mine more than 1 hr in the crockpot! Looks like I should try a little longer since my bones don’t get soft.

  38. I read the study you linked to, Mark, and wound up with more questions than before. Like Marc, I’ve also been trying to find quantitative evidence to substantiate the claims of bone broth’s nutritional value. After looking at a dozen sites all indicating which compounds bone broth contains (but as always, not how much), I figured if anyone could quantify it, it’d be you.

    I see your point about the seemingly deficient cooking time, however, the study indicates twice that the “loss of salts was complete” after 1-2 hours (i.e. mineral salts from which the minerals of interest are derived). Of course, how they determined that there were no valuable minerals left in the bones was unmentioned and it could be highly significant. And certainly, one would intuitively reason that the cloudiness of a long cooked broth is suggestive of a greater content of ‘something’, but what that ‘something’ is might not be of value.

    Then you go on to say that even if the mineral analysis holds true, we get said minerals without doubt from other food and there are substances of greater interest in bone broth apart from minerals. That’s a keen point, however, it brings us back to the original question: are the quantities of these substances nutritionally/therapeutically significant?

  39. What about the toxins, antibiotics in the meat? All of this will be in concentrated form found in the boiled water. It’s like preparing a poison by slowly extracting it for 24 hours from the source. Or is it not.

  40. Bone broth are traditional foods like fermented vegetables and cultured dairy that have been touted for their health benefits.That’s because bone broths are nutrient-dense, easy to digest, rich in flavor and–they boost healing.

  41. Has anyone ever used a sledge hammer to break up large Knuckle or Femur bones . If so please tell me the actual technique so I dont wind up breaking my own leg by mistake .hahh Thanks for any help

  42. Good grief, we don’t face extinction. There is plenty of everything we need. Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof….” As for bone broth, I brown the bones in a dry skillet (mostly beef but will put chicken bones in if I have them in the freezer.) I don’t know how anyone has soft bones in 24 hours as mentioned above. I put them in the crock pot with some vinegar and leave them for 3-4 days on low, sometimes longer. As it becomes more like food, I add onion and other herb seasonings, tomato (I like them) and find that dried red chili helps to take the strong edge off.

  43. Thank you for explaining more about the things we can get when taking bone broth. I’ve been drinking Au Bon Broth’s bone broth capsules as recommended by my friend and so far it made positive changes with my body.

    1. Most people here seem pro bone broth consumers but I’d like to share my reasons why I would never eat it. First of all, protein depletes magnesium and the longer you cook up a broth the more denatured it becomes. Long length, high heat cooking ruins nutrience and msg develops in it’s processing. Magnesium is super important to good health. When there is not enough magnesium our bodies are unable to absorb all other nutrience. If you consume alot of dairy like the health professionals advise us to then you will actually become more at risk of calcium deficiency. My family eats a high magnesium, additive free diet so no synthetic supplements for us! My 11 yr old son J is asthmatic but instead of treating him with synthetic magnesium he will just drink more of our dry processed coffee which is unfermented (95pc of world coffee is fermented & this is when caffeine becomes a problem) & is naturally high in magnesium. We have seen first hand what health issues can arise when we become magnesium deficient and it is many and varied. Look into magnesium deficiency and an ailment you may of had or have & see for yourself how they are always related either directly or indirectly. Goodluck 🙂