Cooking with Bones

Marrow is great and all, but what about the bones that aren’t blessed enough to bear the sacred gel in easily extractable amounts? We can’t forget about those. Chicken backs, beef knuckles, ham hocks, chicken feet, lamb necks, hooves and any other animal-derived matrices of calcium phosphate and collagen fibers are all worth saving, cooking, and perhaps even eating. Hell, I bet elk antlers would make a fine, mineral-rich soup. The best part is that bones, feet, hooves, heads, and connective tissues are all pretty inexpensive, sometimes even free, parts of the animal. They also represent an entirely different realm of nutritional content than basic muscle meat, being complex organs playing multiple roles in the body.

You see, bone is living tissue, rather than inert structure. It is rigid, true, but it’s actually an organ, in fact, placing it squarely in the nutritional all-star camp of liver, heart, brain, kidney, and sweetbreads. Bone is also slightly elastic, owing to the collagen, which combines with the calcium phosphate to lend “elastic rigidity.” (If it weren’t for the collagen, bones would simply be hard with no give, and thus brittle.) Bone is full of minerals, mostly calcium and phosphorus (seeing as how the “bone” part of bone is calcium phosphate, this is no surprise), along with sodium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. If the connective tissue – and most animal scraps and bones you use will have tendons, ligaments, and cartilage – is still attached, bones also include stuff like chondroitin and glucosamine, popular joint supplements that are the raw materials for bone and cartilage formation.

Let’s do a quick rundown of all the other good stuff found in bones and, therefore, well-made bone stock:

  • Bone marrow – We went over this last week, but I’ll say it again: bone marrow is one of the first “superfoods” (for lack of a better term – I actually slightly cringe using it) our ancestors enjoyed. It’s fatty, with a bit of protein and loads of minerals. Even if you’re cooking spindly chicken bones, there’s going to be marrow, and that marrow will make it into your stock.
  • Collagen and gelatin – Most commercial gelatin comes from animal collagen already, so why not cut out the middle man and get your gelatin directly from bone and cartilage? The more collagen your bones have, the more gelatinous, rich, and viscous your stock will be – important qualities, especially if you intend to reduce your stock into sauces. Gelatin may even reduce joint pain in athletes, as one (admittedly small) study appeared to show. Another showed benefits for ulcer patients.
  • Glycine – Although our bodies already produce plenty of glycine, rendering it a non-essential amino acid, there’s some evidence that supplementation can help mitigate free-radical oxidative damage in rats with alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity. Bone broth is rich in glycine. It probably doesn’t mean much, but it can’t hurt. And hey – it may even improve sleep quality, as one Japanese study showed in human subjects. Drink a warm cup of broth before bed, perhaps?
  • Proline – Proline is another non-essential amino acid found in bone stock, but supplementation has shown promise in patients suffering from vision loss due to gyrate atrophy. It’s also an important precursor for the formation of collagen, though it’s not clear whether eating proline has any affect on the body’s ability to make collagen.
  • Hyaluronic acid – Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is one of cartilage’s three glycosaminoglycans. It helps broth gel, and it’s been used for years to treat race horses with osteoarthritis, usually as an intra-articular injection or IV fluid. Recent studies on oral administration have been promising, though, meaning oral administration of quality bone stock (as opposed to, um, what other method of administration?) might help us with our joint issues, too. According to Wikipedia, human studies are underway and showing promise, but I wasn’t able to dig up much beyond this small study. Still, it’s compelling, and I’ll continue to drink broth regardless.
  • Chondroitin sulfate – Chondroitin sulfate is another glycosaminoglycan present in bone stock. It’s also a popular supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis the efficacy of which has come under question. One recent review concludes that chondroitin sulfate “may interfere with progression of osteoarthritis”. I’d say it’s worth a shot.
  • Calcium – I’ve downplayed the importance of large amounts of supplementary calcium in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s the raw material for bone production and fortification, and bone stock might be one of the best sources of calcium around, especially for those who avoid dairy and don’t eat enough leafy greens.
  • Phosphorus – There’s also a good amount of phosphorus in bone stock, though I doubt Primal eaters lack adequate dietary phosphorus (there’s plenty in meat). Still, it’s a nice buffer.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium is pretty lacking in the modern diet. Fatty fish like mackerel offer good amounts, as do leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, but most people, Primal folks included, could stand to take in more magnesium. Dr. Michael Eades says if he had to recommend just one supplement, it’d be magnesium; Dr. Stephan Guyenet over at Whole Health Source recently posted a couple great pieces, one on magnesium and insulin sensitivity (short version: the former improves the latter) and another on magnesium and vitamin D metabolism (short version: the former affects the latter). Bone stock is just another way to obtain this valuable mineral.
  • Sulfur, potassium, and sodium – Stock has these minerals in mostly trace amounts, but they’re all important for health. Sodium isn’t really an issue for most people, but potassium is undoubtedly important and often lacking. Both are crucial electrolytes (bone broth – possible new sports drink?). Sulfur is the “S” in MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, the popular joint supplement that has shown some promising results in humans.

The best way to extract all that boney goodness from the bones is to cook with them, and that means making stock (or broth; from here on out, I’ll just say stock, but the two are pretty similar, with broth technically being derived from meat and bones, and stock from just bones). I mentioned a basic chicken stock recipe last year, but we can do better than that. Besides, different bones require different considerations. A few tips:

  • Add a couple shots of apple cider vinegar to your stock. This aids in the extraction of minerals without really altering the flavor.
  • Roast your bones beforehand. This adds color and flavor. For big bones like beef, 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes usually works. For chicken, just use roasted carcasses.
  • Don’t throw bones away. Even if you just ate a couple bone-in chicken thighs, save those measly little bones! Freeze them and keep adding to your collection until you’ve got a respectable amount.
  • Don’t be afraid to simmer long and slow. Smaller animals require less cooking time to extract nutrients, so chicken can probably go for twenty hours and produce a quality stock, but beef or lamb bones can go for several days, provided you keep the heat low and watch the water level to prevent burning.
  • Add feet, especially chicken feet, for added collagen – and more gelatin.
  • If it’s a delicious joint supplement you’re after, look for actual animal joints to throw in. Knuckles, especially, have tons of cartilaginous material and snappy ligament that will break down in the water.
  • When dealing with the bigger bones from ungulates, sometimes the heat and the water need a little assistance. To really get the good stuff, stick the bones in a sturdy bag and smash them with your sledgehammer (you do have a sledgehammer, right?). Then put the shards in the stockpot. Native Americans used to do this to buffalo bones to get at the little grease pockets lurking within the bone latticework; why shouldn’t we do the same? Another option is to remove the bones after half a day or so and go to work with a smaller hammer, a chef’s knife, or even the food processor. They’ll have softened considerably, and you’ll be able to chop them up into bits for quicker, more thorough extraction. Last week, I took a 10-inch chef’s knife to some cow knuckles and cow necks that’d been simmering for a day and returned the pieces for another few hours of cooking. That stock was the thickest, richest, most gelatinized stock I’ve ever made. Correlation, causation? I lean toward the latter. In fact, going forward, I plan on doing this every single time I make stock. The difference was just that huge.
  • You can eat bone, technically. Now, if you’ve made a proper stock and gotten all you can out of your bones, eating them may not confer many benefits. Still, it’s an interesting thought. Chicken bones in particular become pretty delectable after a day of stewing, and I’ll confess to sifting through the stock solids for snacks. I haven’t eaten an entire carcass or anything (yet), but I may try a few of the smaller, softer bones as an experiment. Anyone else?
  • Once your stock has cooled in the fridge, only skim the fat if you’re prepared to store or use the stock right away. That layer of fat is protecting your broth from adulterants, whether they’re random fridge flavors or bacteria.
  • Speaking of fat, I’d toss poultry fat. It’s a relatively high-PUFA animal fat, and a day of simmering has probably damaged it beyond repair. If you’re stewing bones with more saturated animal fat, though, you should absolutely save the fat layer.
  • Veggies are optional, but tasty. They add flavor, and the classic mirepoix blend of carrots, onions, and celery is always a welcome addition. Herbs work well, too. I’m partial to thyme, bay leaf, and whole peppercorns, with maybe a sprig or two of rosemary added. If you’re doing herbs and veggies, add them toward the end of cooking, especially if you’re doing a marathon two-day stock making session.

Divining the nutritional details of traditional foods like bone stock and bone marrow is difficult, if not impossible altogether. We know stock contains gelatin, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, glucosamine, chondroitin, and other trace minerals, but what are the numbers? We’re a numbers generation; we expect to have accurate info at the tips of our fingers at all times, but that’s unrealistic. Bone composition isn’t set in stone. What the animal ate, how it lived, where it lived, the mineral content of whatever it ate, the nutrient density of whatever it ate – these all factor into the composition and content of the bones, joints, and cartilage. The nutrition facts of commercial bone meal marketed as a calcium supplement gives us a general idea of the mineral content (900 mg calcium, 360 mg phosphorus, 9 mg magnesium per serving) of bone stock. That stuff comes from powdered “cattle raised in the United States,” which undoubtedly means corn-fed, nutritionally-deficient cows. We don’t know exactly how an animal’s diet affects its bone composition, but we know that it matters. Diet plays a huge role in everything, and I’d bet that grass-fed (again, as always) results in better, more nutritious stock. Regardless of the numbers, bone stock is good for you, damn good, and being somewhat in the dark about the precise nutrient count shouldn’t dissuade you from making and using your own bone stock on a regular basis. (If you don’t have access to bones from animals raised in the conditions you’d prefer—or you want backup broth for when you can’t make your own, you can find good stock available online.)

Even if you don’t (or are unable to) seek out bones specifically for cooking, you’ll end up with plenty as leftovers. In fact, I’d suggest opting for whole animals or bone-in segments; the meat tastes better, it stays fresher longer, and you get some cooking bones when it’s all done. When you roast a chicken, you’ve got an entire skeleton to work with. When you cook a bone-in leg of lamb on the barbecue, you’ve got a big femur left over. What does a skinless breast offer after it’s been eaten, or an endless parade of steaks? I love a good steak as much as the next man, but a Primal eater shouldn’t live on muscle meat alone. I highly recommend giving homemade stock a try. If you eat animals, you should have access to their bones, and you should never throw those bones away.

Have I missed anything? Anyone have any good stock-making tips?

TAGS:  cooking tips

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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200 thoughts on “Cooking with Bones”

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    1. Im an Executive Chef of a Fine Dining Restaurant and actually run a almost primal side menu for my healthy clientele. I make demi glace 20 times a year probably here is my recipe.
      50# veal bones roasted and de glazed with 1 gallon red wine or marsala wine
      20# onions
      7 # celery no leaves they make it bitter
      12# carrots
      1/2 cs tomatoes or 4 v8 juice
      3# garlic
      1 cup cracked black pepper
      12 bay leaves
      12 bunches lemon thyme
      any other herbs floating around
      simmer for two days strain reduce until thick like sauce consistency. While its reducing skim the grease off the top

      sometimes the end needs a little adjusting but normally comes our right on with flavor.

      use a 25 gallon stock pot end result about 2 gallons give or take depending upon how rich the bones are

      all veg is rough chopped

      1. This looks FANTASTIC! Can you be more specific about the tomatoes or V8? Is that 1/2 case? of what size cans? OR 4 of what size V8?

        I have lemon thyme in my garden and use it for most anything. I first got it years ago in a bag of salad greens and was instantly addicted. Try this appetizer: radish slices sprinkle with lemon thyme leaves. Oh Wow! Add it to cold cucumber soup, a bowl of fresh fruit, go wild. I never even thought to add it to demi-glace MY BAD!!!

        1. If our tomatoes are in season I use tomatoes. It really depends on how acidic you want it. The V8 I use large cans even Sacramento tomato juice is good.

    2. I make beef bone broth regularly. I love it and the nutrients provided. I make it in big batches and freeze it in one quart BPA free plastic vacuum sealed packages. I then thaw the bag out in a hot water bath and reheat on the stove top to enjoy as often as I like. Can you please tell me in doing this freeze thaw production, am I losing some of the nutrient value, the collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, and mineral composition that is so valued? In other words, is the nutritional value the same as what it was when it was fresh off the stove after freeze / thaw in this manner as long as it is used up within 4-6 months after frozen? Thanks for your reply!

    3. If you put bone shards into your bone stock doesn’t it make it dangerous that you may get one stuck in your throat?

      1. You can strain your broth through a strainer when done.
        It’s recommended, most of us probably do this and I wonder why it wasn’t mentioned.

    4. I make stock weekly. I use the techniques in James Peterson’s excellent book “Sauce”. A James Beard 1992 cookbook of the year. Things to note from his instructions, always start with cold water over carcass and then slowly heat to a simmer and make sure to never boil the liquid. Also, don’t stir the pot while simmering, only skim off scum that accululates on the surface.

      These techniques, cold water start, simmering and not stirring all prevent the the release of soluble proteins like albumin. When these proteins are released they cause the stock to turn cloudy.

      I believe Peterson writes with ascetics and restaurant presentation in mind, but seeing that we really don’t know at what temperatures various fats, proteins and collagens break down, I prefer to err on the side of low temperature, around 180 degrees for a minimum of 3 hours. You can make a good stock in 3 hours, not sure about the suggestions of 24 to 48 hours. Seems like a lot of heat and not sure if it is necessary. Again, I don’t know for sure.

      Also, after the stock is complete and the carcass is strained from the liquid, I then bring the stock to a brief boil. Stock is used to prep Petri dishes, according to Peterson, the stock at low temps presents a favorable environment for bacterial contamination. After a quick boil, about 60 sec, the stock is ready for consumption or frezzing. I normally make stock on Sunday or Monday after intentionally preparing a meal with meat on bones. Our trash pick up comes on Tuesday and I don’t need to have old bones and proteins in the kitchen trash for longer than I need to. Once the stock is make, I have never found the carcass to have any flavor left. Although you can take the meat, finely chop it with herbs and salt and fold them into ravioli or dumplings.

      I use the stock for soups throughout the week. I also heat the stock or soups for breakfast and poach an egg while it is warming on the stove. What a great way to start the day, i feel at my best when I start the day with stock.

  1. Who would have thought bones would be so good for your health! I like the idea of using all the leftover bones after Thanksgiving or a rotisserie chicken dinner. It couldn’t get much easier than making stock.

  2. Forgive me for being new to this… but about how many bones would you need to use, or what volume of bones, per litre or cup of water? And how about mixing different animals? You never really see mixed broths in the store, just chicken or beef, but how would mixed stock taste?

      1. Sure! I’ve done this before, and it results in a richer broth. I really like using well-roasted bones – they add such great flavor to the stock!

      2. Mix away! I actually prefer to use chicken stock for beef stew. It seems to add a more complex flavor. Technically it may be less “beefy” but it actually tastes better.

    1. Depends how rich you want it but my favorite is from the Tender Grassfed Meat cookbook (awesome) where it says 4-6 lbs misc bones and scraps + veggies garlic italian parsley salt acv and enough water to cover it by 2-3 inches. Makes about 8 quarts. As far as mixing I haven’t tried it yet but it’s in the cookbook as well called nomad’s broth so it might be worth a try.

  3. I make a stock for my family once a week in the crock pot from all of the meat, bone and vegetable scraps that we’ve accumulated throughout the week, which we keep in the freezer up until it’s time to rock. I usually make a random Paleo stew out of it and everyone loves it. It’s sort of like our weekly natural multivitamin.

  4. My dog is currently chewing on a beef marrow bone. It looks like I need to join the party.

    1. I try to make sure my dog eats at least one bone a week. I wish I could feed her all natural, primal like we are trying to eat, but unfortunately, the cost and time is just too much for me. I feed her regular old purina, and supplement with bones. have you noticed after you feed them marrow-rich bones, their poop is white and chalky? I thought there was something wrong with my dog when I saw that!

      1. Try Orijen foods by Champion Pet foods. They believe in Biologically Appropriate foods for animals which is very similar to a paleo diet for humans; no corn, no wheat and a much higher protein and fat content than in conventional dog foods. All carbs are sourced through naturally occurring grasses and even flowers. Hope that works for you!

        1. I use this food for my cats. Not only do they love it but they are thriving and I fully expect to save money on vets bills in the future to ofset the cost of the stuff.

        2. I am a vet and have become very interested in biologically appropriate foods for our pets, especially after seeing the great benefits it had for me. There is emerging evidence that many prevalent diseases on the rise in cats and dogs can be linked to inappropriate diets. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, food allergies, etc… very similar to the problems we see in humans!

          A raw diet is most certainly best, but it is not as simple as grinding up raw meat. Nutrients can be lost in processing and storage, and diets made up of muscle meat only is not complete. Doing a raw diet means you must pay extra special attention to ingredients and nutrition, and many times you must provide supplements too. This is especially true in cats, because their digestive systems are so highly specialized.

          That said, we don’t all have time to do raw diets for our pets, myself included. There are many good commercial foods out there that are meat-based and better suited to our pets’ digestive systems… and they aren’t the ones most vets are selling in their offices, which are mostly corn and rice based.

          However, I don’t like Orijen for cats. Although it is marketed as biologically appropriate, a large proportion of it is made of fish. Fish is biologically INappropriate for cats – they are a desert species and fish does not factor into the diet they evolved to eat. Cats that eat a lot of fish-based commercial feeds have a much higher risk of developing hyperthyroidism, and the number 3 top allergen among cats is fish. I would recommend searching for another food if your goal is to feed your cat a biologically appropriate diet.

      2. If you have a grass fed rancher in your area, check with them to see if they are making dog food. If you know a rancher that is not making dog food, ask them to start making it with the scrap amassed during processing the beeves. We have two ranchers in our area that do this. They get $2/pd. It’s organs, meat scrap and about 10% fat.

      3. Hi
        Since dogs are carnivores they should not eat manufactured dog food—they should eat raw grass fed meat—if this is too expensive or inconvenient you can get a frozen “log” of raw meat dog food, organic and grass fed in an organic supermarket such as Whole Foods–just defrost in the frig and slice off a piece. Feeding carnivores–whether our pets at home or animals in a zoo— a diet that is not natural to them causes them to have human diseases of modern civilization–not good. the raw meat diet for dogs is known as the BARF diet–it is used by many breeders and stnads for Basic Animal Raw Food diet.

        Also, Slanker’s (grass fed farm that delivers to your doorstep from Texas) sells dog food meat for $3 per pound. It comes in frozen 1 pound pa cks and consists of beef, bison, pork, liver, heart and kidney as well as muscle meat. It is extremely healthy for your dog-and not expensive or inconvenient to you.
        Regards, Marilyn

        1. When I was living out of a hotel room, and couldn’t do a BARF diet for my dog, I fed him Barking At The Moon (kibble without any grain) and gave him marrow bones to chew regularly.

        2. Wow. I might start eating that at $3 a lb delivered! Sounds like cheap healthy stew.

  5. Ever since I was a little kid I bite off the ends of the chicken bones and suck out the marrow as much as possible. I do get weird looks when I do it in public though. Someone in my family must have done this or I would not have learned how. Perhaps my Grandmother. hmmmm

    1. I wish I’d learned that too when I was young. Today, I want to be able to do it, but the thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies!

    2. Picked up a similar habit while visiting a friend in the Jamaican bush. He picked up the habit while living in Ghana, where he said he learned that “you can eat just about anything.” I had to believe him after watching him eat 95% of a grilled fish. Someone mentioned oxtail bones down below–another great way to get some marrow.

      That said, given the differences in meat quality depending on how an animal is raised, I’d imagine the same is true for the bones. Unless you know the source of the bone, I’d be wary.

    3. I have always been a chicken bone disposal!! Just like my granma. Somehow I always knew, deep in my soul, that the grisly bone ends and the delicous marrow were the choicest parts! Also, as a child my chore was to clear the table or wash the dishes, I would eat the grisly fatty stuff that everyone else would cut off left on their plates!

    4. My husband does this. He grew up in Weat Africa and this was common. I thought it was gross for years (I was vegetarian) but slowly came to understand the wisdom in it.

  6. This is another blow to the myth that you can’t gets lots of needed vitamins and minerals from animal products alone. My simple-headed thinking on this: if an animal (like you) needs certain vitamins and minerals to live, maybe you can get them from going out and eating another animal which also requires the same trace minerals to remain healthy (and so probably already has lots of them in its body).

    I remember reading that the navies of the world only started having problems with scurvy and other vitamin deficiency diseases when they switched from rations of meat (preserved in various ways for the long voyages: sausage, jerky, etc.) to rations based on simple carbohydrates (biscuits, hardtack).

    Of course they solved the problem by adding fruit and vegetables (making the British Navy famous as “Limeys”) instead of just switching back to meat.

    I have also seen research that simple carbohydrates actually leech vitamins and minerals from your body. If you compare your dietary needs to those of a wheat stalk, I think it is intuitively obvious that this plant wouldn’t have many of the trace elements we need.

  7. Mark – Could you explain the following:

    “Speaking of fat, I’d toss poultry fat. It’s a relatively high-PUFA animal fat, and a day of simmering has probably damaged it beyond repair. If you’re stewing bones with more saturated animal fat, though, you should absolutely save the fat layer.”



    1. I would love an explanation as well. When I read that I thought for a second that maybe I shouldn’t be eaten so much chicken!! Even organic, free-range and sometimes true pastured from a local farm.

    2. PUFA – are not heat stable. Our broth/stock has been at high heat for over 24 hours, so anything not heat stable is probably rancid. Saturated fat is more stable when heated so it is probably okay.

      This is only in regaurd to long cooked broths/stocks. When just heated for a short time, different rules – probably the ones you were thinking of – apply.

  8. I make a lot of stock, in the pressure cooker. Alton Brown talked about low and slow in his stock episode, how the goodies need it to come out of the pores of the bones but the pressure cooker works fine for me and seems a lot more practical than cooking for 20 hours.

    If I tried to cook something for 20 hours I think my wife would strangle me.

      1. Chicken stock perhaps an hour and a half. Once it builds up pressure, I turn the heat way down so it is barely hissing.

    1. High heat from a pressure cooker destroys the nutrients. You won’t get the same benefits Mark talked about In this post. It needs to be low and slow- the traditional way of cooking.

      1. A pressure cooker does not have high heat. In fact it is usually below boiling after the pressure comes up. And because you cook much more quickly than normal, the food is not exposed to heat as long. It may actually be more healthful than “low and slow.” The pressure DOES concentrate flavors.

        1. Hi All,
          We have been pressure-cooking meat and bones all our lives as it saves time and cooking gas. And especially for broths and soups, I pressure cook the beef bones along with the veggies for about 2 hours and get a very gelatinous broth and the marrow falls off from in between the bones. Though I’m sure of the comparison between the nutrient content of pressure-cooked broth versus slow-cooked broth. It would be good to know which is the best method to make a broth.

    2. I use a crockpot when I make soups. Mine I will admit can take as long as three days before I will serve it. I cook mine on the low setting.

      1. You have to be carful when you use a Crock pot.
        As most Crock pots, (and more so with older crock pots), Have “Lead” and “Cadmium” in them. The same with the dinner ware, drinking glasses etc.

  9. It will be an exciting day when I add all these extra primal things into my life… I can not wait to get my vibram 5 fingers for running barefoot.

    And, eating bones, marrows, etc. sounds wonderful.

    Through 5 days of my primal experiment the nutrient I am most lacking according to fitday is calcium. I just might have to eat some bone marrow now!

      1. Yes… plenty. I add them to my smoothies and I make a big ass salad everyday.

        Yesterday I had 2 green smoothies – 1 had 66 grams of spinach and the other had 50 grams of kale.

        I also had 2 big ass salads – 1 had 80 grams of mixed salad greens and the other had about 40 grams of romaine lettuce.

        I think this is actually too much… almost. But, I still fall short.

        I eat absolutely no dairy however… I may consider buying grass fed raw dairy. That or I may take a calcium supplement.

        1. Will for a start eating spinach has a bad affect on calcium absorption as it contains Oxalic acid which binds with calcium!

        2. Although spinach does have a good amount of calcium, unfortunately it is not very bioavailable. If I remember right, you would have to eat 16 cups of spinach to get the same amount in an 8 oz. glass of milk. Although, the calcium in pasteurized milk is not very bioavailable. You are on the right track with grass fed raw dairy. A calcium supplement would is not very bioavailable and often does more harm than good. You could also consider grinding organic pastured eggs shells as a calcium supplement. Google for directions.

  10. Oxtail is good to make bone broth with. After slow cooking, the meat falls off the bone and is edible.

    1. Oxtail is fantastic! There’s a russian (east european) meat in aspic dish that usually involves the stock from cooking oxtail + some meat for hours (usually 6-8), then separating all the meat from the bones, covering it with the stock, and placing it into the fridge overnight.
      Enjoy the next day with a russian mustard or some horseradish

      1. I love oxtail! Not exactly primal, but I cook oxtail with black beans and then pick all the meat off the bones. Mix in a can of rotel and you’ve got a delicious meal 🙂

    2. Neckbones for me. I’ve been known to crush the bones while the soup is being made.

  11. My butcher gives me bones for free whenever I ask him. I believe he likes to know that someone is getting some good out of what would otherwise be refuse.
    @Classic: I also have been chewing the ends of chicken bones, and cracking them to extract the marrow, since childhood. Maybe you have to be discreet about it in restaurants, though…
    @Angela: I routinely mix bones from different animals. The only distinction I make is between mammals and birds: as Mark says, poultry bones are much softer and take less cooking. His point about PUFA is another reason to segregate birds.

  12. The one place in my grocery store where I can find interesting animal parts is in the dog food freezer.

  13. I have cooked stock with a mixture of animal bones and it seemed to taste fine.

    One of our favorite soups was made with stock made from ham hocks, then cooked bacon, onions, some bbq sauce and whatever veg you have, added.

    I have a Sous Vide Supreme appliance and I wonder if it would work for stock?

    I think the next batch of bones and veg scraps I save in the freezer will be in a cooking bag and I will give it a try. Has anyone else done this and if so, did it work?

  14. I’ve been making bone stock for about a year now. It is like going from a black-and-white culinary world to one of color. My 19 month old has been having some bone stock with an pastured egg yolk every morning for the past year and she is incredibly hardy and robust. And she’s only had two significant colds in her life, so far (which is amazing given her older sister goes to a daycare where some of the kids are sick every week!). I’m sure these foods (and the full-fat grass-fed dairy yogurt and kefir) have played a major contributing role to her health.

      1. I warm up some stock in a small saucepan then add it to a bowl with an egg yolk from a hard-boiled already placed in it. I mush it up and spoon feed it to her.

        Our daughter’s nanny used to also make steamed eggs by placing the yolk of an uncooked egg in a small bowl, mix in some chicken stock, then steam them over boiling water for a few minutes.

  15. What a great article! Thanks! I didn’t realize the bones should be cooked for so long. Your tip about adding the apple cider to help pull the nutrients out of the bones, that is the advice Mom gave me years ago, and I always do it. Not something you hear about, terrific for you to bring it up.


    1. Y0ur cat would benefit from eating raw meat instead of commercial cat food, (if that is what she eats) Breeders of $5000 oscicats, a domesticated pet that is 50% domestic housecat and 50% wild jungle cat– (mix of housecat and oscelot wild cats) feed them raw chicken

  16. This is a Bone-a-Fide Great post…I have been cooking with bones for years. My Ukrainian Borscht starts with a bunch of beef and pork bones in a roasting pan and ends with YUM!

  17. To really get the good stuff, stick the bones in a sturdy bag and smash them with your sledgehammer (you do have a sledgehammer, right?)

    You can also throw them in a Vita-Mix. It is a lot easier. 🙂

  18. “You can eat bone, technically. Now, if you’ve made a proper stock and gotten all you can out of your bones, eating them may not confer many benefits. Still, it’s an interesting thought. Chicken bones in particular become pretty delectable after a day of stewing, and I’ll confess to sifting through the stock solids for snacks.” -Mark Sisson

    I just wanted to add that unless the bones are the consistency of rubber, there is still very significant mineral content there. If you put the bones in a container of pure vinegar and let it sit for a few days to give the minerals a chance to dissolve into the vinegar, you’ll see what I mean.

  19. I’d just like to second the recommendation (as a lifetime stock cooker) that the pressure cooker is hand’s down the best way to go. Load it up, cook at 15lbs for 45 minutes and you have excellent stock.

    You get bright fresh tasting stocks with much better extraction compared to duller stocks from cooking all day on the stove. It’s more energy efficient as well.

    After every dinner with bones we toss them in a big ziplock back in the freezer, when we have enough bags we make stock.

    I noticed one person said to put salt in the stock before cooking it, I highly discourage that. Make the stock without salt, reserve salt for the very final step in whatever you make with it.

  20. I have taken a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement for osteoarthritis of the neck for the last 15 years. It made a huge improvement for me immediately, and I have had no progression.
    For those of us who don’t have much time for cooking, are there any commercial broths that are any good?

    1. if your bones are already cooked then tossing everything in the slow cooker only takes a couple of minutes. if the bones are raw then about an hour in the oven on your day off and then tossed in the slow cooker is rather quick & easy.

    2. It’s impossible to find commercially prepared bone broth that is the quality of home-made broth that is made over a 20-24 hrs. 1st, it will not have sat in cold water with added organic raw apple cider vinegar to help pull out the minerals from the bones for the recommended time of 15-20 mn. before heating up. 2nd, it probably won’t have the parsley added just 10-15 mn before the end of cooking which is important to preserve all the minerals and vitamins you want to get from the parsley. If it is added sooner than that, the heat will destroy its nutritional value and will also have a bitterness to it that you don’t want added to the broth. 3rd, it usually has only the traditional veggies, i.e. carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt (and maybe way too much of that which is also the unhealthy common table salt instead of the healthy Himalayan salt) and pepper, added, and in small enough amounts that they don’t add much to the broth. Others such as freshly grated nutmeg, ginger, anise, etc. not only add interesting depth of flavor, but additional nutritional benefits. Probably most important of all it that the ratio of water to bones is such that you’ll never get the rich, thick, gelatinous broth that indicates it has a lot of the good bone marrow you want – it’s just way too watered down. If you want legitimate, good healthy bone broth, you have to take the time and effort to make it yourself, but it’s definitely worth it!! Be sure to use all the organic ingredients you can, and add the onion skins as well. They have a lot of nutrition in them and also add a beautiful golden hue to the broth.

  21. Thanks Mark. This was a very timely article for me. I just got my 20kg of pasture fed bones today. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of marrow in them but now I know what to do with them 🙂

  22. I will definitely start doing this, although it will be just for me, since my fiance is scared of bones. Lol, where is his primal instinct?

  23. I’m still a bit confused about marrow. If I cook a stock (usually chicken) for 12-24 hours, am I getting the goodness of the marrow? Or do I ‘need’ to crack the bones in the stockpot. Or do I ‘need’ to actually eat the marrow.

    I’d like to add that I always make my stocks in the slow cooker. Easy, trouble free, safe and frugal with energy use.

    1. Some slow cookers that are made in China are made with Lead.

  24. Fascinating article Mark. Thank you! As someone which joint problems this certainly is something I will look to explore in the future!

  25. Great post! We started making our own broth a couple years ago, right around when our daughter was born. Homemade soup is now her most requested food.

  26. Im not much of a fan of making stock but I do like curries and bone-in meat always tastes better in a curry than meat alone.

  27. I am a fan of making my own stock, too. I bought some fryer chickens once to try, and I felt wasteful just chucking out a perfectly good carcass, so I made stock. I’ve been doing that ever since.

    This marrow business is news to me… I think I’ll have to try it!

  28. I make stock monthly. I’ve also eaten poultry bones. I also make mixed stock of lamb, turkey, and pork bones. Don’t forget shells. Lobsters and other crustaceans are also great in stocks.

  29. Once the stock is made, how do you store it? Would freezing it in portion sizes be okay, or does that detract from nutrients? I know with breastmilk it can so I’m not sure if it’s the same with stock.

  30. About the PUFAs going rancid: I never thought of that before. Does this still apply if it’s cooked on low in a crock pot the whole 12-24 hours? I’ve been just stirring the fat back in to the broth since I’ve been trying to eat more fat in general, but didn’t realize poultry fat was PUFAs.

  31. Trader Joe’s has organic chicken & beef broths for a good price. I am not sure how they are created, perhaps someone else knows. I use them as a base for crockpot stews.

  32. This morning I bought a chicken from our local, organic free range chicken farm. I asked if they ever had any bones? And was given 2.5 kilos of chicken leg / wing bones FREE!

    Roasted them for about 30 minutes and now half of them are in the pressure cooker. I added a little apple cider vinegar too as recommended – don’t like the smell of it, but I can imagine how it will add to the calcium content.

    Many thanks – great article!


  33. As Jacques Pepin says (about cooking in general) “Never throw anything away” and “Use this [referring to miscellaneous meat scraps] in your stock.”

    He may not be paleo, but the man does know a thing or twelve about cooking. I have noticed, though, that a lot of French cooking is very amenable to paleo adaptations. I think the French keep their carbs more separate from their meats than a lot of other cooking traditions. They tend to put all their carbs in one basket, as it were – the bread and pastries, so it’s easy to just leave those out.

    Stock on!

    1. The thought you just described is exactly what I’ve been thinking about French cuisine. It’s such a perfect starting point, and happened to be my favorite cuisine prior to discovering the primal/paleo community. I always request French restaurants when going out with friends. The so-called French Paradox is not such a paradox to some.

  34. I keep a ziplock bag in the freezer in which I collect chicken bones as well as all parts of onions that I’m not going to eat, especially the brown dried outer skin. In my experience, onion skins make the difference between good stock and truly great stock.

  35. Update and question! I’ve now got a good quantity of lovely smelling, solidly jellied chicken stock. I will use some to make soup, some to cook chicken in (casserole) – but does anyone drink it just heated up and seasoned? Like a sort of chicken consommé?


    1. Great article! I cook up beef marrow bones with oregano and dried chilli flakes, (as well as about 4tbs apple cider vinegar and generous amount of good quality salt) and cook for about 9 hours. It is incredible! I drink the liquid and cook with the fat. I have also started using the stock to make a sort of Pho – adding kale or bok choy, carrots and beef or chicken breast. I eat it for breakfast and it is the best start to the day!

    2. Yes! Drink the broth. Daily. Nothing more nutritious and healing! A glass of broth a day keeps the doctor away. 😉

  36. @ Andrew
    I drink heated up bone soup by itself – as you say, it’s like a consomme – and sometimes I just take a spoon to the gelled contents of the jar in the fridge.

  37. Great post Mark – especially as it is soon to be bbq time here in England!

    When I was in Brazil, I tried a national dish, ‘Feijoada’. It was a bone delight!
    I understand it is made with black turtle beans, pork and beef products, (ears, tail, feet), bacon, smoked pork ribs, (loin and tongue). All to be cooked slowly in a clay oven…
    I was reluctant to eat the bones in the dish but not only did they add flavour to the stock, they were quite soft and tasty themselves!! and made me feel like a true Grok 🙂

  38. I have been simmering about 5lbs of buffalo bones together with an onion, couple celery stalks, 2 carrots, some garlic and ginger. I’ve had it going for about a day and a half now. Coming home from work today I was surprised how much water had evaporated, a few hours more and it would have started burning, should have told my wife to add some hot water as needed. The smell is driving my dog crazy, he’s ready to attack the stove. Tomorrow night I am going to strain it and freeze it and save some of the meat parts which have fallen off for my dog.

    1. the first time I roasted 8 pounds of marrow bones for 50 minutes in my oven to prepare to make bone broth the delicious smell permiated to the house next door and smeelled so good my neighbor came over to ask what I was cooking. I told her to come over with her husband in 3 days and they would have it for dinner. They liked it so much they started cooking bone broths. After 2 months it relieved my neighbor’s arthritis, which just seemed to disappear, much to the consternation of his doctor. I gues teh 3 types of collagens, glucosamine and all the minerals really are a super food. Isn’t that too bad for Big Pharma.

  39. @Valda – I heated up the stock with some fresh herbs and it was an ace drink!

    Yesterday I bought a slow cooker (crockpot?) and today got some free range, grass fed beef bones (free) from the butcher. They are roasting now – I’ll give them 45 – 50 minutes.

    I feel that they’d need too long in the pressure cooker for me to feel comfortable with it so I’ll put them in the crock pot with water and a touch of vinegar. But for how long??!!

  40. My mom used to “can” chicken in Mason jars in her pressure cooker. The bones were so soft that you could just eat them with the chicken if you wanted to.

  41. “FitDay” doesn’t seem to have a listing for homemade beef stock (or chicken) – only gravy, broth or tinned consommé.

    So – my homemade French onion soup appears to have very little nutritional value – and I just don’t believe that! I think it must be much higher in minerals etc than they give it credit for! It made a filling, delicious and much enjoyed lunch – and added very little to my %RDA according to the chart.

  42. I make beef stock with meaty bits like neck bones plus knuckle bones (femur tips), carrot, onion, and celery. I saved the fat I skimmed off the last batch – does this constitute tallow? I’d love to cook with it.

  43. Weeeee! I’m off to get 10lbs of mixed bones (lamb, pork, goat) from my summer CSA supplier. I think I’m helping clean out their freezer so they’re giving me a huge deal. I’m also getting 5 whole ducks, pork fat (for lard-rendering), and various organs. all organic. Can’t wait to get cookin, roastin & stewin! Plus rendering some schmaltz & a try at duck confit.

  44. I eat slow-cooked chicken bones all the time – the entire beast gets eaten, minus feathers, beak and bowels.

    I have tried slow cooking duck and rabbit bones, but they appear never to get soft enough to eat.

  45. The Nourishing Traditions cookbook has very clear instructions for stock, including the vinegar for releasing more minerals.

    When I roast a chicken, I snag the roasted chicken wings every time and crunch the wing tips – YUM. and the carcass always goes directly into a pot after supper. I often roast chickens beer-can style and use different vinegars and herbs. Great flavor for the broth, but different than stock. Drinking the warm broth by itself is wonderful, especially if I’ve gone a little crazy with the herbs.

    I reduce my stock to demi glace and put .5 pint jars in the freezer to save space. I measure how much stock I have and then reduce by barely simmering and divide the demi glace among the jars. I.e., if I start with 10 quarts of stock, I reduce the pot full so it will fit in 10 small jars. I can spoon out .25 of the demi glace to make 1 cup of reconstituted stock.

    Reading about folks using slow-cookers is very interesting to me. I use a 16 quart stock pot and usually don’t have much room left after covering with the filtered water…

  46. Anybody ever mix various animal bones? I made some amazing buffalo stock with leftover marrow bones (after I baked them and got out the marrow). Now I’m collecting some more buffalo bones but recently bought a leg of goat. Now I’ve got a nice goat foot and leg bones. I’m just wondering how goat and buffalo bones will make broth together or whether I should just do them separately.

  47. Regarding the vinegar: I think it is best if the vinegar is added to the bones and water and let to sit at room temp for an hour or so before starting the simmer. Seems that’s what I have read in a number of different blogs and books regarding the most nourishing way to prepare bone broths. If you’re roasting the bones first, I’d let them cool a bit, dump in the stockpot, cover with cold filtered water, then add and mix in the vinegar–at least a couple tablespoons per quart.

    Also, if you’re going to be adding herbs, etc., then you should wait until (after the vinegar soak) after bringing everything to a boil. Boil it for a few minutes and skim the scum that comes to the top–this will take longer in a slow cooker, so when I’m using mine, I’ll boil it on the stovetop, skim, then dump into the slow cooker. After skimming the crud off the top is when you add the herbs & spices, onion, carrots, celery, etc.

    This is one of my favorite breakfasts, to have a cup of hot bone broth. I don’t even drink coffee anymore (well, not often), and I find that it holds me over better than the things I used to have would do. (Don’t miss donuts much) Still, I agree to not add salt until you’re actually using the broth, so be sure to taste before heading off to the computer and to start your morning with your broth in-hand.

    One last tip: when freezing in jars, be sure the broth is fully cooled–I even use an ice bath–before putting in the freezer. Don’t fill the jars–leave two or so inches, or well below the “shoulder” of the jar–and don’t tighten the lids until after the broth is frozen solid. I have never had a jar break when I remember to follow these three simple guidelines.

  48. The above post is a very clear rendering, no pun intended, of the Nourishing Traditions stock instructions. And thanks for adding the details about freezing stock. It is also helpful to freeze the stock in jars in a non-frost free freezer. I did have 2 jars break when I put the completely cooled jars in the frost-free freezer compartment of my refrigerator. Definitely use the ice-bath and make sure there is plenty of room for the stock to expand, and leaving the lids loose helps with the expansion. However, since I started cooking the stock down to demi glace, I have had no problems whatsoever. hmmm, think I’ll go get a cup of nice hot broth!

  49. How long can a jellied bone stock last in the fridge – not a freezer? I have some chicken stock which I made on Thursday – and it is now Tuesday – too long to be safe??


  50. Home-made stock kept in a glass jar in the fridge, should last a week. Not infrequently, I’ve found stock still good after two weeks. If you want reassurance, bring it to a boil for five minutes before you use it. It’ll start to smell “off” when it goes bad.

  51. hmmm I guess I don’t know how to respond to a specific post. Anyway, the question of spinach affecting calcium absorbtion. I think Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, mentions that dark leafy greens should be cooked…at least a little… I know I read it somewhere. So wilt your greens before adding them to a smoothie; serve your slices of bbq’d tri tip hot on top of greens (spinach or arugula). Anyone who has memorized more of Nourishing Traditions than I have, please chime in on this.

  52. Thank you! I just signed up for a chicken CSA and the birds come with heads & feet attached… good to know I can throw them in and get some benefit when making broth.

    Just a tip from my mama, even if you’ve already roasted the chicken, re-roast the bones for an hour or two. It makes the flavor richer.

  53. If I can’t afford grassfed/organic meat is it better not to make stock at all or can I still use conventional meat?

  54. I find that lemon juice works quite as well as vinegar – chicken bones end up breakable with a wooden spoon. Also I like the taste better…

  55. I remember when I was young reading an old book on ninjutsu training, and one section talked about diet. The author considered it extremely important to eat the whole fish, bones and all.

    So I wonder, has anyone here tried making fish stock? Is there anything different about boiling fish bones compared to mammals?

  56. I love your article, Mark, on making stock from bones. Four days ago, before I’d read your article I made my first lot of stock from a pile of pork bones, and was rewarded with a lovely glutinous concoction which I’m including in gravies, soups, stews, etc. I have been recently reading about hyaluronic acid and how good it is for joints, skin, hair, eyes, and I did purchase some capsules which were quite expensive. However, I found on taking them that I felt overwhelmingly tired, so stopped taking them and decided to make the stock in the hope that it will contain hyarulonic acid, and thus allow me to get HA naturally. I know that HA can be obtained from chicken combs, can it also be got from cooked animal bones?

  57. I’ve made fish stock quite often – i do Not know how nutritious it is compared to mammals or birds.. however, it is easy and fish heads are often free- just toss a bunch of heads and fish parts into a pot and boil – it’s delicious! It also becomes more Creamy than jellylike.

    1. Fish are very healthy because of the omega 3 content but those same omega 3s don’t really stand up to heat very well sadly. you would still get the minerals and the gelatin but It would be better to skim the fat because of the polyunsaturated fat being heated for so long. That kind of gets rid of the omega 3 though. The broth would be perfectly healthy after this but, again no omega 3.

  58. “Hell, I bet elk antlers would make a fine, mineral-rich soup. ”

    I think you’re right. Here’s a passage from Sourdough Sagas, which has several first personal accounts by people who took part in the Alaskan Gold Rush including what they learned from the local natives.

    “gold rushers would take the antlers of a deer or elk, cut it into pieces, and boil it for a couple of days. They would then let it cool for an afternoon and, well the quote follows:

    “The mixture would cool, and to the top would rise a white butter that, with salt added, was as fine as any butter that came from a cow. The natives called it “bone butter.”

  59. I’m not sure if I’ve asked for feedback on this. I’ve bought 4 slow cookers and none have ‘slow-cooked.’ I have the best results in cast iron (e.g. le creuset) in an oven at 225F. In the oven, over 8-10 hours, I have a slightly simmering pot. In slow-cookers (even on low), the pot is furiously boiling. Does anyone have an explanation? a solution? a slow-cooker that doesn’t do this? The last one I had was a programmable that boasted a ‘keep-warm’ setting. HA! Volcanic virgins sacrificing themselves would have expired long before reaching the mountain, at this temperature! Any help anyone can provide will be appreciated!

    1. I recently read that the older crock pots kept the temperature stay pretty low, and usually didn’t have a hi/lo setting, they just had one setting. Because of the fear of food poisoning (and lawsuits, perhaps) the newer ones cook much hotter. Maybe you can find an old crock pot at a garage sale or thrift store and try that.

  60. Does anyone know if it is safe to cook/eat bones from grain fed confined livestock? thinking about heavy metal contamination and other toxins. How bad is it really?

    1. I feed my 4 dogs raw and they certainly can smell the difference.

      When I toss a mixture of commercial, grain-fed bones together with grass-fed/finished bones, they all go for the grassfed bones.
      The commercial, grain-fed bones get sniffed and then ignored. A dogs nose definitely smells nutrient content and chemical contamination I think.

      BUT, commercial, grain-fed bones are still 100 times better than grains themselves. 🙂

  61. I have heard that the “new” crockpots – which may mean any made in the last 10 years – cook much faster than the old ones. (“safety”, litigation and all that) See if you can find an old one at a thrift store. Or crack the lid a bit while cooking to keep it from getting so hot.

  62. I wonder if bone meal is any good for gardening after we make stock with it? Would all the minerals/nutrients be cooked out, leaving nothing for the plants?

  63. IS this a problem? After 24 hrs of cooking in a slow cooker and then straining the broth into containers and sticking them in a fridge for 12 hours, my beef bone broth has come out with a thick layer of fat on top and a jelly like substance underneath. Before, when I’ve made beef bone broth (cooking only 12hrs) I always had fat on top and an a brownish liquid underneath. Why is there jelly now? Is it because I used too many bones this time or is it because I cooked it longer? Why did it turn to jelly?

    1. You extracted all the collagen and conective tissue from the bones. According to the article it’s really good for you! Skim the fat (if you want to) but keep the jelly – it will melt down again when you warm the stock and make the stock rich and smooth.

  64. I keep “stock bags” in my freezer. Whenever I cook with a bone-in piece of meat, I toss the bone in the freezer bag and save them until I’ve collected enough for stock. Every time I roast a chicken or turkey I save the whole carcass this way too. I also save shellfish shells – shrimp and lobster make great stock. I don’t have enough cash to buy enough lobster for shell stock at one go, but if I save up for long enough, I can make a gorgeous lobster bisque.

  65. Great post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

  66. I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  67. I’m curious about the skimming the fat off. Since the marrow is, basically fat, by skimming it off aren’t I tossing out the marrow I just worked so long on extracting?

    1. I agree with you Allison, and I never skim the fat off mine. I think it important to eat the marrow fat as well as the nutrients you are extracting from the bones (such as collagen etc).

  68. Whenever I make stew or soup and have leftovers, it turns into jello overnight! All the gelatin from the bones!

  69. I add the juice of one fresh lemon into the pot before simmering instead of vinegar for acidity. I must say that just for taste alone you should start making bone broth. It’s easy and amazing.

  70. What about the marrow??

    My understanding is the marrow is highly pufa. Pls correct me if I am wrong. I always roast my big elk and beef bones as suggested then scoop the marrow before it all melts away, add salt and EAT IT on the spot. OMFG this is the most delicous thing on the planet.

    Mark, there are a zillion comments, but can you pls address this ?? Thank you!

  71. Everytime I come to the end of making chicken stock I find myself sifting through all the carcass pieces in the strainer and munching away on the bones. I really enjoy the ends of the bigger bones. I made some really great chicken soup for some friends one night and found a bone hiding in my bowl at dinner, the look on their faces when I plucked it out and ate it was priceless.

  72. This may be an amateur bone stock/broth making question..but would I still reap the same benefits if I use bones that aren’t from a grass fed animal?
    My Trader Joe’s sells whole chickens and beef that have no antibiotics, “natural”, no hormones, but are vegeterian fed (so annoying)!
    And a farm I found fairly close to where I live won’t have any available for like a month and a half.
    I have a local meat store that sells “dog bones” and other soup bones but I am pretty sure they aren’t coming from grass fed animals (sigh).
    Is it worth it/have as much nutritional value?

    1. The big problem with conventional meat is in the fat profile, but since you’re making soup you can easily skim that off. It will still have the same minerals and the gelatin so it would probably be fine as long as you skim off the fat.

  73. I’ve always used the crockpot for stock–if you leave chicken in on low for 2 days, there are almost no bones left at all, you can mush the remnants with your fingers. The only problem with the crockpot is that it does not reduce the stock, so you get a large volume of weak-tasting stock that you should then boil down on a stovetop if you want truly flavourful stock. I’d stopped making it because I had so, so much. Maybe I should start feeding it to the dogs, too, mushed up bones and all…

  74. when you are finished with your bones, bury the remains at the foot of a favourite plant, like a grape vine for instance!

  75. I’m a bit skeptical on the whole apple cider vinegar in the bone broth thing. It seems to me that by adding vinegar, you are certainly removing calcium from the bones, but are you regaining it in a useful form?

    I’m not a chemist, so if someone more knowledgeable than myself would like to clear this up, I’d appreciate it. It seems to me that 6 vinegar + calcium phosphate = 3 calcium acetate and 2 phosphoric acid.

    Ca3(PO4)2 + 6 CH3CO2H = 3 Ca(C2H3OO)2 + 2 H3PO4

    Now if I wanted phosphoric acid, I’d just drink a Pepsi, and calcium acetate is given out as a way to remove phosphate from the system. So much for your buffer and your bioavailable calcium.

    1. I am curious about this as well. Has anyone ever tested this? If so, I’d love to know about the findings.
      I suppose that’s the problem with our current medical system-there’s no interest in researching more traditional nutrition because there’s no money in it.

  76. I also just wanted to point out that gelatin in bone broths has been known to help with digestion (for anyone with problems…)

    “…homemade stock attracts digestive juices to itself in a manner similar to raw foods. Foods that attract digestive juices are much more easily digested and assimilated by the body.

    Homemade stock also contains natural gelatin which not only aids digestion but also assists with the healing of many chronic intestinal disorders such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and others”

    (See WAPF for more info:

  77. Would it be a good idea to add chicken fat that hasn’t been cooked for long in to the soup when it is almost finished? I find that when I take away the fat it doesn’t taste nearly as good.

  78. Hello,

    I’m cooking chicken bones for the first time today. I am a little concerned about it though because they have the small slivers.

    I’ve read a page of comments and no one has mentioned it as a problem, so I think I,ll assume it’s okay.

    I’ll check back and see if there are any hints re: this. I figure after I cook the bone stock/broth, I can always strain it if I’m still not sure.

    TY for all the information here.

    1. You can always strain the broth to get slivers out, that’s what I do.

      I’ve been making my own broths for a while. I don’t cook them for as long as people do here; I’ve found that 6-8 hours is sufficient (I’ve tried 24 hours, including breaking up bones, and really didn’t notice a difference). In any case you couldn’t pay me to use or drink commercial broth anymore.

  79. is it OK to add red wine to the broth .. following on from reading the redwine and chocolate article 🙂

    have the bones from one of my own grass fed steers and a couple of chooks browing in the oven as we speak.

  80. Would using a pressure cooker make sense for making stock?

  81. I made beef bone broth for the first time. It is completely gelatinous after putting it in the refrigerator, which I assume is a good thing? I refrigerated it first so that I could remove the hardened fat, but now my question is whether it is fine put the gelatin in the freezer or if I need to heat it back to a liquid first and then freeze. There is more than I will use in a week, so I definitely want to freeze some of it, but am wondering if freezing the gelatin will destroy the valuable components of it. thanks.

  82. after I make stock I take chicken bones and grind them in my vitamix, then I spread this mixture on toast and eat it. nummy.

  83. I have a question for you all. Well two actually. I follow the Nourishing Traditions method of preparing bone broth, as found on Sarah Wilson’s blog, which entails simmering things for up to 72 hours. Now…I like to think I am getting the full compliment of nutrients this way, but I am freaked out about letting it cook overnight, so I generally turn the gas off, leave it out at room temp, (because just chucking extremely hot stock in the fridge can breed bacteria due to the temp difference), and then boil it for 5-10 minutes in the morning to get rid of any harmful bacteria which may have appeared overnight. I’ve never gotten sick from this method, so I’m going to assume that the bacteria situation is not an issue. Am I endangering myself? Please feel free to tell me so.

    My other question has to do with nutrient loss. By boiling everything to sterilize the broth the next morning, am I destroying all of the nutrients that I’ve managed to leach out of the bones? If so, how can I mitigate this? How do you all deal with the possibility of bacteria over marathon broth-making sessions? I suppose I could just cook it on low in the oven so as to not interrupt the cooking process, but I am curious as to your personal methods of broth-making.

  84. Hi, thanks for the brilliant info on bone benefits! May I ask, with the white fat layer that forms on beef-bone broth that’s been refrigerated, should one consume this? Or is it just good as a protective layer for the darker stock underneath? Thanks

  85. Fasinating article Mark! I am a culinary skills teacher but train freelance these days. However, could you perhaps help me with the legality of Stock cooking? Does the law allow 20 hours? or did it not change to 6 hours? I know that demi glance was made exactly as you have mentioned in the article, however, I suspect that one are not allowed to do this in commercial kitchens anymore. Would be pleased if you could shine a light on this.

  86. I generally simmer bones for 2/3 hours after browning off in the oven and after allowing then to soak for half an hour in a couple of tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar. After that I sieve of the stock and fill with new water and boil again. I keep simmering the bones until the bones become soft and break. This saves doing one long boil and it saves buying new bones each time. I have good bones as even after a couple of hours the stock produced when refrigerated is like a thick jelly. I do use the Nourishing traditions book for advice. It is very useful.

  87. Hi,

    I just cooked some chicken bones in my old Presto steel pressure cooker for two hours. The bones are now really soft–like the bones in canned salmon. I just ate an entire leg bone and it was like eating a brazil nut–it was that soft. What a surprise!

  88. Does it make any difference if you use a pressure cooker? Are you losing nutrients? Also, what’s left in those bones at the end, would they still be good to be turned into bone meal and tossed in the garden?

    1. I think that nutrients are preserved with pressure cooking due to shorter time but also due to much less vapours escape with pressure cooking, which is almost completely sealed. Once pressure up we set down heat to maybe 30% of full or so that pressure indicator keeps just under maximum. Temp is then about 120C. Found a lot less smell and safer because no water loss when pressure cooking! Then I read that MSM is a very heat tolerant salt which means it is preserved also pressure cooking. I like the ideas of using vinegar and roasting bones before broth making!

  89. Hi,

    I made a large batch of beef stock using bones. Cooked it so long (a couple of days) it turned bitter. Non-reactive pot. No herbs in the stock, no vinegar, no salt, and hadn’t roasted the bones so long they burned. Those are all the commonly given reasons for bitter stock, but they don’t apply here.

    Since it took a lot of work and money, I really want to know if it’s just bitter because it’s super-concentrated nutrient-wise, or for some other reason? Is it edible? (Even if in small quantities.) Does anyone have any experience with this? Don’t want to waste it but also don’t want to poison self or family.

    1. I reckon the broth tastes bitter because it took too long to get up to a temperature which killed the bacteria present on the raw bones -as it gradually heated up (you mentioned a large quantity and cost) -it went bad. No, don’t use it -chuck it away and try again, roasting first, then adding boiling water to the bones before simmering.

  90. What bones are best (assuming you use beef or smth similar like bison or yak)? And what is better, yellow or red marrow? The yellow is in the middle of long bones and red is in flat bones and the ends of long bones. Yellow has more fat. Red has stem cells.

    I was thinking joints and flat bones would give the highest concentration of red marrow, cartilage and ligaments so it would be best. But yellow has important fats.

    Perhaps a mix of both is best?

  91. how much mg calcium is in 1 cup of bone broth that has been cooked for 12 hours?
    Thank you

  92. Thanks for that! I have an important question. Hope it’s not addressed above but i just can’t read all comments now, apologies if so.

    You talk about simmering for hours and days actually. Now, that can be very demanding and is certainly a huge electricity consumption/loss (I’m quite green in general). Is it possible/good idea to use a pressure cooker and, if so, how long would it have to cook? I mean good idea – is it possible to extract all the good stuff out of the bones, that’s the most important?
    I tried ones (still new in this adventure) and cooked in the pressure cooker for about 1h. The broth became tasty and rich (fairly fat as well) and the links between the bones were falling apart, the bones themselves remained still hard though.
    Would you have any views on that? i really want to make it work this way but also do something sensible and get the benefits out of it. Thanks!

  93. Hi, I’m from Alabama. Deer hunting is a normal thing and many will process the animal themselves, But my father normally has his processed (he has a bad shoulder and hip). As I read this I started thinking about all those deer bones that are left with the processer. I assume I could get some free and do a deer stock. Has anyone done this? I usually do Chicken/turkey stock(omg smoked turkey makes an awesome stock!!). I figure that Deer will be the most economical choice for me (free) since they are grass feed/wild 🙂 . I’m also going to ask the local University about bones left from the livestock they sell at their market, the animals they have are mostly grass fed, but not certified organic they just follow organic principals and closely as can be. I hope I can get some beef bone from there market. thank for the great stock makeing advice! I think I will venture out of poltury bones!

  94. I tried to make some bone broth and it was horrible! I bought some beef bones (no hormones or chemicals, etc) and followed one of the recipes here. After 3 days in the slow cooker it smelled so bad and stunk up my house. The smell made me so nauseous I had to throw it out. It tasted like drinking fat. Gross!

    1. Heat the bones quickly to boiling point so they don’t go bad, then simmer. Cool, refrigerate and remove fat off the top for frying to leave a non-greasy delicious stock!

  95. Thank you for this awesome article Mark! I linked to it in my recipe for roasted bone broth! I use tons of bone broth all the time, for the family and for our dogs!
    I am so lucky to have a wood stove, so in winter there is always a pot of stock simmering away!

  96. G’day! GREAT post!
    What to do with the meat attached to the outside of the bone marrow?
    Bone marrow newbie but made Chinese Natural Tradition Soup Base today!

  97. Hey Mark great article.

    I’m from Germany, I need the advice of you bone broth experts.

    I made a 9 hour bone broth from bone marrow and other bone parts of pure grass-fed galloway cattle.

    Now i’ve got a lot white bones left.
    Can I put the bones in the freezer and make another bone broth maybe
    a week later?

  98. A question about beef fat: I’m trying my first batch of beef bone broth at the moment. I’ve got two organic grass-fed (lucky to live in Ireland!) knuckle bones in there and some non-organic meaty rib bones. There’s so much fat from the knuckle bones, so I’ve been scooping it off every so often, to put in a jar and keep. I’m confused about whether the fat from a slow cooked beef stock is good to use – in Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon says it will have deteriorated from cooking for so long, but many people say use it. And I thought beef fat can well withstand heat…confused! So to hedge my bets I decided to start skimming it off the top after about 10-12hrs, in the hope that it will be a good quality fat at this stage. The stock has been on a very low simmer all the time. Any advice/thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Also, does anyone know the difference in composition between tallow and regular beef fat? Thanks!

  99. Hi Mark or anyone who may know. What about fish stock? Chock full of PUFA omega 3 which is highly unstable when heated yet I see plenty of recipes in WAPF and the like for long cooked fish broths. I see these are not from oily fish like mackerel or salmon, but cod and other white fish also have plenty of PUFAs. Any thoughts?

  100. Thanks!
    I’m completely converted to the marrowbone stock breakfast as an antidote for getting hungry mid morning…Not only that, the butcher’s only customers for bones normally have a large pet at home.
    “Cuid ah hae a dug bane please?”
    “We’ve nae dug banes here, yi mean a bane for a dug?”
    “Aye ok ok… If yi waant’ tae be pedantic aboot it!”

    1. Nice ???? Glasgow?

      I found the smell of boiled bones SERIOUSLY off-putting. Still, I got lots of jars of jellied broth which I use as base for soups and crockpot stews. Once I got over the initial stink, it tastes great!

  101. Nice article, but the way to “bone up” on this topic is to look at the book Nourishing Broth. Has anyone seen that? Judging from the discussion, no one has. Kaayla Daniel wrote 20 long chapters on the science of broth, including one on bone marrow.

  102. I make bone broth for my dogs and feed it to them twice a week. However, i cook it until the bones are soft and then put that in the good processor, so is full of bones, the biggest pieces about the size of a grain of sand. So you are saying not to include the bones, toss them. I am not sure if I understood you right. Also what is um, PUFA (was that right, can’t go back to see?) please also explain that to me.
    Thanks. I have IBS and flaculance (sp?) often. Sure would like that cleared up.

  103. Can I use fresh or canned tomatoes instead of vinegar, lemon juice or wine?

  104. Hi
    I am new to making bone broth.

    I made broth with 4 chicken carcass and 30 chicken feet splashed with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar last weekend.

    I simmered for 12 hours and took out half the broth in the pot. Then I refilled with fresh hot water and another 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and simmered for another 12 hours for a second batch.

    However, my first batch was bitter. Can someone help to throw some light on this??Is it still safe to consume?

    Will 24 hours of simmer cause the stock to be rancid? It did smell a little off in the second batch (I have yet to try it and it is still sitting in the fridge).



    1. Bitterness is very likely because the stock went bad because it heated up too slowly being a largish batch. Roast the bones in a hot oven to sterilise the bacteria, and/or pour BOILING water over the bones before simmering..

  105. Did you know that every day thousands of innocent plants are being killed every day. We have to stop this madness. Eat bacon.!!

  106. What’s BAD in the bones when cooking, can it leach out something bad in the food? thx

  107. I just finished my first batch of elk stock and it has a funky smell, it also has a hard, crunchy layer on top rather then a gelatinous layer. I did follow the instructions, but our elk hung for nearly a week in our cool garage, can bones spoil? Help! Thanks

  108. Where to get the bones? If you didnt eat stuff that like? An how long are bones good to store until you get enough to make a pot? How do you store them while waiting? How long to simmer? Do we skim stuff off the top an discard? What to store broth in? An how long is it good in refrig?

  109. Wonderful input everyone! I usually do two simmers. First one for the cats (no onion or garlic) for 8 hours and then another 16 hours for humans with onion & garlic. I also add chicken egg shells, about 12 halves plus. The ACV will leach out the calcium.

  110. In my area, we have a supermarket chain called, WinCO. Based out of Idaho: They regularly carry frozen beef marrow bones, pork neck bones, and various other “less attractive” animal parts (pig’s feet, chicken feet) are available for purchase for making stock. I’m going to bet that other supermarket chains around the country carry similar items. Look in the frozen meats. I just purchased my frozen beef marrow bones for $1.28 lb. It’s going to be more expensive if you buy marrow bones fresh. I have found no noticeable difference in quality for my purposes between fresh or frozen.

  111. I was not really into the bone broth hype before since I wasn’t sure if what people saying was true. I’m always too busy so I tried drinking Au Bon Broth and I should say that there really health benefits to it.

    1. Hi, would meaty broth or bone broth prove problematic if I’m suspecting a problem with sulphur ? Thanks