Bone Broth Basics

Basic Broth Made In A Pressure Cooker

What is more nourishing than a warm cup of broth on a cold day or when you are hungry? What feels better than a healing cup of chicken broth when you have the flu, or you just feel rundown? What smells better than to open the lid of a pot with freshly made broth?

Barely anything I would say. Yes, I love my broth, as you can tell. I use it for cooking soups, stews, rice or just drink it on its own.


Health Benefits 

There is a reason that broth makes us feel good, as the health benefits of broth are numerous! Here are just a few facts about broth:

  • Broth contains a lot of minerals – calcium, magnesium, potassium and trace minerals – although the calcium content is not very high unless you grind some of the leftover bones into the broth. What is more important is that the minerals from broth are highly absorbable and are balanced with a range of other minerals, especially trace minerals.
  • While minerals make bones hard, collagen keeps them resilient. About 28% of a bone is collagen (the rest is 50% minerals and 22% water). Cooking breaks down collagenous protein from bones and cartilage intogelatin. Gelatin contains an amino acid profile which is not only important for building our own strong bones, joints, hair, skin and nails but also for our overall well-being.
  • One of the main amino acids in broth is especially important for the gut, where our immune system is at home. Glutamine is an amino acid that feeds the lining of the gut helping the villi of the small intestine to heal and grow, and therefore improves digestion and nutrient absorption. Many supplements that address leaky gut contain glutamine as a main ingredient. Glutamine stimulates immune cells and helps to protect us against illness and disease. Glutamine also cuts cravings for sugar and carbohydrates!
  • Glysine is the simplest of all amino acids and a main player in many processes in the body, such as detoxification, sugar metabolism, production of bile salts to digest fats, reduction of inflammation, and wound healing.
  • Gelatin has the unusual property of being hydrophilic, even after it has been heated. This means it attracts and holds liquid, in this case digestive juices. This is very important, as it improves the digestion of cooked meals when raw food is missing or limited in a meal.
  • Although gelatin is not a complete protein, it has a meat sparing effectby allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. This makes it economical for the environment by saving meat and using the whole animal, and also for your budget, as bone broth is inexpensive to make.
  • Broth is a staple in many Asian countries where soup is often traditionally served with every meal, including breakfast.
  • If you want to learn more about the many benefits of bone broth then read Nourishing Broth, An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern Worldby Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel. This book covers the science, the healing power of broth, as well as numerous recipes.
  • Or watch this video  – Bone Broth and Health: A Look at the Science – where Kaayla T. Daniels talks for about 45 minutes about broth.

Practical aspects 

To get a rich flavor and a lot of gelatin my favorite way to make broth is with a pressure cooker. The process is much faster than with a slow cooker and I think the broth results in a better flavor. Besides, when it comes to nutrients the shorter cooking time results in less destruction of heat sensitive vitamins. To read more about pressure cookers go here.

Stock or broth? Traditionally stock is made more from bones and broth more from meaty parts. In my kitchen I just use the term broth no matter whether I use a fresh whole chicken to start with, or the leftover bones from a roasted chicken.

Variety is a good thing. For chicken broth (or chicken stock) any bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs and feet (so much gelatin!) can be used, or as well as a whole chicken. For beef broth knuckle bones make the most gelatin-rich broth while marrow bones give a delicious flavor. Shanks have more meat but sometimes also a good portion of marrow and cartilage. My favorite beef mix contains knuckle bones and shank bones. Broth can also be made with carcasses and/or bones from turkey, duck, lamb, pig’s or calf’s feet, or fish heads and trimmings for fish stock.
Mixing is allowed, too!

Amounts vary. In general I try to fill the pot at least half with bones and vegetables, often more. Then I add water up to the 2/3 line, the maximum recommended level on most pressure cookers. If your broth ends up too thick you can always add more water afterwards, or if it is too thin, you can boil it down.

Quality is key, as always when it comes to food. Choose organic or grass-fed bones, organic or pasture-raised chicken. Chicken stock made from non-organic chicken parts might not gel.

Reusing bones and making another batch also makes very good broth although the flavor of the first batch is usually the best.

If broth simmers for many hours, typically in a slow cooker, then it is critical to skim the broth when foam appears in the beginning of the cooking process. This foam contains impurities which can cause an off flavor if cooked for too long. For basic broth in a pressure cooker I often omit this step because first, the overall cooking time is often less than an hour and second, the pressure cooker tends to let these impurities sink to the bottom of the broth and stick to the pot. Sometimes I skim beef broth when I plan to cook the broth for many hours, but I barely ever skim chicken broth. I have never had this bad flavor using a pressure cooker.

After straining the broth and letting it cool down to room temperature it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for many months. Another way to store broth is the following: If the broth has a nice layer of fat on it and the jar top of a mason jar is sealed when the broth is very warm, and then cooled down, it will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

No space in your refrigerator to store the broth? Sometimes I have a pressure cooker going on my stove all week long. I am continually taking broth out, and adding more good stuff in, like new beef bones, carcasses from roasted chickens or more vegetables. As long as the broth is brought to a boil once a day in summer and every other day in winter it will be fine. In case you forget about it on the stove and worry whether your good broth has gone bad, trust your nose. It will smell bad. Especially when you heat it up again. It will smell really bad!

If no pressure cooker is available then a regular stock pot or a slow cooker are alternatives. Usual cooking times are 8 to 12, and up to 24 hours for the slow cooker on a low setting. If you use a stockpot on the stove then let simmer for a minimum of 2 hours, or longer if you are able to watch the pot. Check from time to time and add more water if needed. Keep it on a low simmer.

I always make my broth in a pressure cooker because the flavor is so superb. I even brought a new one over from Germany this summer. A big one, just for making broth. It took quite a bit of space in my luggage. But well, don’t we have to do whatever it takes to make us happy in the kitchen?

Guten Appetit!
The Nourishing Yogini

Recipe for making broth with a pressure cooker

1 whole chicken, or various chicken parts, or
a mix of beef bones (knuckle bones, marrow bones and/or shanks)
or any bones/carcasses of your choice

2 – 4 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

1 onion
2 carrots
2- 3 celery sticks
1/4 celery root (optional for extra flavor)
1 leek (optional)

1 – 2 tsp black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 small piece of lemon rind
1/2 – 1 inch long ginger root piece

Making Chicken Broth:


Place whole chicken, or chicken pieces and all other ingredients in a pressure cooker. Make sure to add lemon juice or vinegar which helps to leach minerals from the bones. Cover with cold filtered water and let sit for about an hour.


Close the lid, turn on heat and bring the pressure cooker to high pressure according to its instructions. Keep pressure cooker on high pressure for about 15 minutes. Switch off the heat and allow the pot to release pressure naturally, that takes about 20 minutes.


Come back after half an hour, or the next morning, and voila, here is your delicious chicken broth! That wonderful smell when you open the lid just brings you right to heaven!


Once the chicken has cooled down take it apart and save the meat for later. Strain the broth.

You also can just eat parts of the chicken and veggies as is, together with the broth. With sea salt that’s a quick and nourishing meal.


Making Beef Broth


Place beef bones and all other ingredients, except black peppercorns and bay leave in a pressure cooker. Make sure to add lemon juice or vinegar which helps to leach minerals from the bones. Cover with cold filtered water and let sit for about an hour.


Bring everything to a boil.


Skim the foam.


After skimming the foam add black peppercorns and bay leaves if desired. Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure according to its instructions. Keep pressure cooker on high pressure for about 15 – 30 minutes. Switch off the heat and allow the pot to release pressure naturally, that takes about 20 minutes.


Come back after half an hour, or the next morning, and voila, here is your delicious bone broth!

What now?


After removing the bigger bones and pieces from the pot with tongs strain the broth. If you want to use the broth right away a fat separator is very handy to get the clear broth and fat separated.

If you don’t have a fat separator let the broth cool down to room temperature and put it in the fridge. The fat on the top will get hard and will be easy to remove if you prefer to do so.


Save the fat for cooking, especially when it comes from grass-fed beef bones. It will have a fine flavor, too, depending on the ingredients you have used for your broth.