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When attempting to cook bone broths, what is the correct technique of breaking up long bones which do not fit inside the crock pot?

I can think of hammering or sawing off hand, but both seem to be rather messy techniques. Is there any good method to break off large bones (relatively) safely?

  • 1
    For future reference, get it cut at where you bought it – Huangism Dec 29 '14 at 0:30
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    @Huangism the context is of a whole ham (Jamon Iberico), so I obviously can't get it cut by the butcher. – March Ho Dec 29 '14 at 7:52
  • Oh ok, in that case, mention it in the question – Huangism Dec 29 '14 at 16:07
  • A knife called a "bone cleaver" does exist. – rackandboneman Dec 12 '16 at 7:49
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A chefs hammer or small tacking hammer will do the job fine

Uncooked bones break quite cleanly, and should not splinter when given a decent hammer blow (as if hammering in a nail)

Use a old wooden chopping board, so as to absorb the impacts, and take the odd miss-hit

  • What hammer type is good for this purpose, and why? – March Ho Dec 28 '14 at 10:33
  • See first sentence? – TFD Dec 28 '14 at 20:37
  • Sorry for the poor phrasing, meant to just ask why. – March Ho Dec 28 '14 at 20:38
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    Because using the back of your knife is a bad practice? And using a builders hammer is overkill, and makes a big mess. YMMV try for yourself! – TFD Dec 28 '14 at 22:43
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A normal hammer (one that is used for nails) will not suffice for breaking relatively strong bones, such as the leg bones. Personal experience: I bought a pork knuckle, and attempted to break the bone with a hammer (600g head), and it resisted 5 minutes of straight hammering, despite the fact that the surface was significantly dented, and many bone fragments were scattered about the room.

A few online searches suggested that a sledgehammer would be required to break bones for broth.

In short, get the butcher to do it for you. You probably don't have the necessary equipment needed to smash bones.

  • The type of head on the hammer might be part of the issue. Was it a smooth-faced hammer, or a framing hammer? I would suspect that a smooth-faced hammer is going to slip off, and most of the blow would be deflected. Also, instead of a sledgehammer, you might want to consider an engineer's mallet, as you have much better control. And to get both the heavy weight and less issue w/ slipping ... I suspect the back of an engineer's mallet would work well. – Joe Jan 20 '15 at 2:21
  • @Joe The hammer head was flat with a textured surface to prevent it from slipping off surfaces, so I doubt slippage was the issue. – March Ho Jan 20 '15 at 7:30
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A hacksaw (used for cutting metal) is a relatively inexpensive hand tool. Keep a blade set aside for food use only, or buy a new one if you don't use it frequently for that purpose. That's good for more even, straight bones. I'm not sure how that would work on a knuckle bone like others are talking about.

A farmer at the outdoor market had a beef femur that he sold me for $3 (whether he should bring it and try to sell it was obviously the cause of some family disagreement/discussion, as his pre-teen son freaked out when he heard that his dad actually sold the darn thing). I used the hacksaw to get it into the stockpot. When I was done making stock from it, I hung the two halves from the tree in our front yard as part of Halloween decorations.

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Breaks bones for 'bone broth' method.

  1. tools - heavy ROOFING hammer or sledgehammer used for wedge for firewood.
  2. tools - metal plate, wood sheet, rubber mat, concrete patio floor. You may crack the patio floor.

Hammer Selection: Heavy, steel forged, NO wood handle, roofing hammer. Use two hands. Try freeze in ice, then boil in water. 3 or 5 cycles and then broth becomes weak in taste. Sledgehammer is preferred. It is better to buy expensive roofing hammer than buy more than $60 chef knife.

  1. procedure: wear safety goggles and use cardboard box to contain flying fragments.
  2. Freeze the bones solid in ICE.
  3. some bones are not brittle, but after repeated cycles will BECOME brittle or able to be broken.
  4. 2 hours cook bone broth.
  5. remove bones. Soak in vinegar acid.
  6. smash the bones while they are warm. optional.
  7. cover in ice and freeze in freezer.
  8. use plastic bag, tyvek bag, cloth to contain flying bone fragments. Only do this outside.
  9. repeat 3 or 4 times. the slow heat and vinegar cycles will soften bone structure.

summary results of $1. / pound turkey on sale.

  1. buy the cheapest. do NOT get butterball of fake fat injected
  2. sharpen knife.
  3. cook with two pots
  4. separate meat, dark, white, debone and cool.
  5. separate portions for freezing in freezer.
  6. drink the broth or soup.
  7. remove collagen and tendons from bones. Eat.
  8. bone collections (lamb, pork feet, turkey)
  9. use first procedure.
  10. strain broth and remove the heavy fragments on bottom. Eat the fragments, if possible.

THIS SYSTEM works in Tampa, FL, USA. YMMV. Used roofing hammers are available at thrift store.

  • ROOFING HAMMER or construction demolition – roofinghammer_breakbone Dec 12 '16 at 5:22
  • roofing hammer or construction demolition – roofinghammer_breakbone Dec 12 '16 at 5:23
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    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. A question: are you serious? – Daniel Griscom Dec 12 '16 at 12:25
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    I think the intended broth was one of pork, not of mature dinosaur..... – rackandboneman Dec 12 '16 at 14:22

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