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I recently cooked a chicken and made chicken broth from the bones. I also kept a few pieces of meat to add to the broth to give it more flavor.

I know you can freeze the broth and use it for later but specifically how many times can I reuse the bones to make broth? Is there a time when it loses flavor or is not good for you? Does it differ depending on the animal/meat?

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Beef bones can be used multiple times, but less flavor and gelatin will be extracted from each additional use. Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" describes this.

Because a standard kitchen extraction of eight hours releases only about 20% of the gelatin in beef bones, the bones may be extracted for a second time, for a total of up to 24 hours. The resulting liquid can then be used to start the next fresh extraction of meat and bones.

I would imagine chicken bones would be similar, although, since they are smaller, the first batch may be more effective than 20%.

  • @KevinNowacsyk can you specify the page or the quote where he mentions that? I found a PDF and I can't seem to find that. Because you actually have a source I'm more inclined to accept your answer but I just want to make sure there is an actual quote stating that.He does mentioned that in long cooked "stocks, soups, and stews" the gelatin "dissolves out of bones or skin to provide large quantities of gelatin and a substantial body." (p.168 "Skin, Cartilage, and Bones") so it makes me think depending how long you cook it, you can end up dissolving all the gelatin out. – aug Nov 29 '16 at 1:11
  • Page 600, "Because a standard kitchen extraction of eight hours releases only about 20% of the gelatin in beef bones, the bones may be extracted for a second time, for a total of up to 24 hours. The resulting liquid can then be used to start the next fresh extraction of meat and bones." – Kevin Nowaczyk Dec 7 '16 at 15:48
  • Thanks! updated the quote into the answer too. Nice find :) – aug Dec 7 '16 at 22:27
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You can use bones to make broth only once, all the goodness gets cooked out of them the first use. You could re-cook them for hours and get nothing from them.

  • Furthermore, the more bones are cooked the more they will break down and sully the broth. Over-cooked bones are decidedly un-delicious. – MikeTheLiar Sep 23 '15 at 19:04
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The flavor of a good broth is gained by the liquid extracting the flavors and substances from the bones over a period of time. If your stock/broth has decent flavor, then, naturally, the bones should have little to none left to give any subsequent attempts at extraction.

Ideally, the answer should be "none" if you've made a great broth or stock on the first try.

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