At press time, I’ve been sick for nearly two months straight. Between regular fall allergies, day care, and my own students, our family has bounced a cold back and forth since late October. Although I’m an avid water drinker, water just falls flat on a sick tongue. So, as I started hacking on Christmas evening, I handed over the Instant Pot insert to my husband as he carved the turkey with strict instructions that everything but the meat was to be put in the pot. On the stove, I’d have to wait over 24 hours for the bone broth to be ready. But now, I only have to wait four hours at most for fresh, hot, and delicious Bone Broth in the Instant Pot.
Bone Broth in the Instant Pot
I was too sick to think of taking pictures, but the process was easy. Every bone, organ, and scrap of skin that was left from the cooked turkey goes in the pot. Put a quickly chopped onion, celery, and carrot in. Add bay leaves, thyme, and sage. Season with salt, peppercorns, and white vinegar. Lastly, fill the pot insert to the max line, making sure everything is covered.
Set the Instant Pot to 120 minutes on high pressures, check that the lid is locked and set to seal, and walked away.
Once the Instant Pot was set, we all sat down to a nice lunch of Thanksgiving leftovers. In the old days of baking bone broth on the stove top, the process would take 24 hours. I’d have to start the broth in the morning so that the next day it would have time to cool before I put it away. With the Instant Pot, I only need about 3 to 4 hours, including cooling time. I didn’t have to go to bed with my stove top on, hoping that a fire didn’t start or the pot would go dry. By the time we were done with lunch, the pot had come to pressure and the count down began.
Instant Pot is Ready
Two hours later, I had almost forgotten about the broth silently doing its work in the kitchen. When the timer went off, I let the Instant Pot natural pressure release for another 30 minutes until I flipped the top switch to venting to release the steam. Because of the liquid nature of broth, I noticed the steam took a much longer time to dissipate than with other recipes. At that point, I turned off the warming element and we left for Charlotte’s check up at the doctor.
When we got home two hours later, the pot was still hot. I forget how well insulated the Instant Pot is! I pulled the inner pot out and left it on the counter for another hour while I went to get my hair cut. When I got home, the broth was still warm, but not hot anymore. I used a large mesh strainer in an even larger bowl to strain the broth from the bones, skin, veggies, and herbs. The broth was a beautiful amber color and even my sick nose could smell the warm and inviting aroma in the bowl below me.
Signs of a Good Bone Broth
The the real test of a good bone broth is actually in the spent bones. I pushed against one of the bones with my finger and it nearly turned to dust: that’s the first test. All the calcium and nutrients from the bones should been in the broth, leaving the bones chalky. A quick inspection should also reveal that all the connective tissue is gone from the bone joints and broken bones should have no marrow left (a gentle push should break one in two fairly easily). All of those vitamins and minerals are now in the broth.
Pleased with my work, I ladled some into mugs for Gran and me and the rest filled four 32-ounce plastic deli containers. Hot liquid should never be frozen, so I stashed the broth in the fridge to cool over night and sat down to enjoy my mug of warming broth. I had been skeptical at first at how much bone broth I would get in the Instant Pot. Unlike a stock pot, very little water evaporates from the Instant Pot because it’s sealed; however, the 14 pound turkey carcass took up so much room I had to cram it in there to get the lid on. The final verdict, however, was nearly 5 quarts of bone broth from my 8 quart Instant Pot: a nice yield.
Healthy Birds Make Healthy Broth
The next morning, the broth had gelled into a solid but jiggly mass. This is the second test of good bone broth: gelatin. In the stock pot, I would always add too much water to get a properly solidified bone broth. Now, I can make a golden, gelatin-rich liquid that has pulled all the calcium and nutrients from the bones and connective tissue.
For this reason, you always want to start with the healthiest bones as possible. For Christmas, we reserve a free-range turkey from a local organic turkey farm. I’ve read all kinds of health claim about bone broth from A to Z, and I’m skeptical of many of them. But even if all of them turn out to be bunk, bone broth is a satisfying and economical use of the left over bones you would have thrown out anyway!
Bone Broth in the Instant Pot Recipe
1 Turkey carcass or 1-2 chicken carcasses, meat removed, preferably free-range and/or organic
2 stalks of celery
Salt to taste
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 sage leaves
1-2 sprigs of thyme
water to cover, about 5 quarts
- Carve and/or pick the meat off a chicken or turkey. Place all the remaining turkey bones, skins, organs, and neck into the inner pot of your Instant Pot. You may need to push down and rearrange the bones to get everything below the “Max Fill” line. Make sure everything is submerged under water.
- Roughly cop the onion, carrots, celery and place in the inner pot. Add the whole bay leaves, sage leaves, and thyme.
- Sprinkle with 2 to 4 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons peppercorns (feel free to adjust to taste).
- Cover everything with water.
- Set the Instant Pot to 120 minutes on Manual. Lock the lid in place and check to make sure the valve is set to sealing.
- Allow the Instant Pot to Natural Pressure Release for 20 – 30 minutes, then release the pressure manually. Ladle into bowls or mugs to enjoy now, or continue onto step 7.
- With hot pads, carefully remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot and allow to cool on the counter top or in the fridge.
- When cool, strain bones out with a colander. You can line the colander with cheese cloth to remove all imperfections.
- Store bone broth in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 4 months.