I’m a huge fan of bone broth. This nutritional powerhouse offers so many benefits for my health and wellbeing. The collagen, amino acids, and minerals in bone broth support my skin, joint, gut, and immune health.
However, like any perishable food, bone broth has a limited shelf life. Knowing how long homemade bone broth lasts in the fridge helps me store and consume it while retaining maximum nutrition and flavor.
In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about bone broth’s shelf life. You’ll discover how long homemade bone broth lasts in the fridge, strategies to extend its shelf life, and signs that your bone broth has spoiled.
Let’s dive in!
Pay Attention to Storage Instructions and Best Buy Dates
The shelf life of any bone broth depends heavily on how it’s made and stored. It’s crucial to follow the storage instructions and best buy dates whether your bone broth is homemade or store-bought.
For homemade bone broth, storage methods affect how long it lasts. Broths prepared through different cooking methods and ingredients have varying shelf lives.
When buying pre-made bone broth, always check package best buy dates. Once opened, transfer the broth to a covered container and store in the fridge. Use opened bone broth within the recommended timeframe.
Being mindful of best by dates and storage instructions enhances the shelf life of all bone broths. This helps retain their nutritional density and delicious flavors.
How Long Does Homemade Bone Broth Last in the Fridge?
The shelf life of homemade bone broth depends on preparation methods. Generally, it will last 5 days refrigerated and 12 months frozen.
However, many factors like cooking time, ingredients, and storage impact how long homemade bone broth stays fresh. Follow these tips to extend the fridge life of your homemade bone broth:
Use the Hot Fill Technique
Fill containers right away with freshly made piping hot broth. The heat helps remove oxygen which causes spoilage. This technique can extend homemade broth’s fridge life to 7-10 days.
Leave the Fat Cap On
The congealed fat that rises and solidifies on the broth surface protects it from air exposure. Leave this fat cap intact for maximum freshness.
Add Acid Like Lemon Juice
Acidic ingredients have preservative effects to prolong shelf life. Add lemon juice, vinegar or wine while cooking bone broth.
With proper storage techniques, homemade bone broth can last 7-10 days refrigerated. Freeze any excess broth in serving portions to enjoy for up to one year.
Extend the Shelf Life of Homemade Bone Broth
Let’s explore those homemade bone broth shelf life extending strategies in more detail:
Hot Fill Technique for Bone Broth
The hot fill technique takes advantage of piping hot broth to maximize shelf life. Here are the steps:
- Make the bone broth and let it cool slightly so it’s still steaming hot.
- Sterilize glass jars by boiling for 10 minutes. This kills bacteria.
- Carefully fill the hot sterilized jars with the fresh broth. Leave 1 inch at the top.
- Seal the jars immediately. As the broth cools, it will create a vacuum seal.
This hot fill technique minimizes oxygen exposure to keep broth fresher for 7-10 days. It’s ideal for maximizing the shelf life of homemade stock.
Leave the Fat Cap On Your Bone Broth
That congealed layer of fat that rises to the top of chilled homemade broth is full of health benefits. The fat cap contains collagen for gut healing, skin health, and joint support.
Leaving this fat cap intact also protects the bone broth. Like olive oil covering wine vinegar, the solid fat seals out air to prevent oxidation and bacterial growth.
For maximum freshness, leave the fat cap on your chilled bone broth until ready to consume. Then simply skim it off and use as desired.
Adding Acid Like Lemon Juice to Bone Broth
Acidic ingredients have natural preservative effects, slowing microbial growth and browning reactions. Consider adding:
- Lemon juice or vinegar while cooking bone broth
- A splash of vinegar after cooking
- Wine if bones were simmered with vegetables for stock
The acidity helps homemade bone broth retain optimal freshness for longer in the fridge. For food safety, broth pH should not drop below 4.6.
Can Expired Bone Broth Make You Sick?
Consuming expired bone broth comes with health risks including:
- Food poisoning – from bacteria like Bacillus cereus
- Toxin formation – some pathogens produce toxins not destroyed by cooking
- Allergic reaction – higher histamine levels in spoiled broth
If you accidentally ingest expired bone broth, watch for side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dispose of spoiled homemade broth. Don’t taste questionable broth to check if it’s gone bad.
Bone Broth Shelf Life Notes
Many factors like ingredients, cooking methods, and storage conditions impact bone broth’s shelf life. Here are some key points:
- Longer cooking concentrates flavors but shortens shelf life
- Adding salt, spices, and herbs shortens lifespan by introducing bacteria
- Bone broth canned or boxed with preservatives lasts longer
- Store-bought shelf-stable bone broth lasts unopened for ~2 years
- Once opened, store-bought broth lasts ~5 days refrigerated
- Frozen bone broth retains nutrients, flavors for 12 months
For maximum shelf life, focus on proper storage conditions and food safety practices.
Freezing Bone Broth Without Losing Nutrition
Freezing is an excellent storage method for bone broth. It retains the collagen, amino acids, and minerals that make bone broth so beneficial.
To freeze bone broth:
- Cool freshly made broth rapidly
- Portion into freezer bags, containers, or ice cube trays
- Label bags with contents and dates
- Freeze for up to 12 months
Freezing stops bacteria growth that causes spoilage. Thaw frozen homemade broth in the fridge before use.
Consequences of Refreezing Bone Broth after Opening
Once thawed, bone broth has a shortened shelf life. Refreezing thawed bone broth comes with some risks:
- Safety issues from bacteria growth
- Degradation of flavors and nutrients
- Unappealing changes in texture and consistency
For best quality and food safety, freshly thaw only the portion of frozen broth needed. Cook thawed broth within 3-4 days and don’t refreeze.
Recognizing Spoiled Bone Broth
Be alert for signs of spoiled bone broth:
- Appearance – Mold, film, bubbles, and sediment signal spoilage
- Texture – Increased viscosity or weird gelatinous globules
- Smell – Rancid, sour, or unpleasant odors
- Taste – Strong bitter, sour, or unpleasant flavors
When in doubt, remember the old adage “When in doubt, throw it out!” Dispose of broth with any odd textures, smells or tastes.
Ideal Bone Broth Texture
Properly prepared bone broth has a smooth, creamy texture. A slightly gelatinous consistency is natural with homemade broths containing collagen. But beware:
- Clumpy globs or sliminess indicates spoiled broth
- Cloudiness or particles may mean undercooking
- Overcooking gives a thicker, gluey texture
Viscosity varies based on ingredients used. For example, broth made with vegetables will be thinner than broth containing joints and bones.
Store-bought broths add thickeners like xanthan gum to improve mouthfeel. Homemade bone broth relies on natural gelatin for its velvety texture.
Recommended Containers for Freezing Bone Broth
To retain nutrients and avoid freezer burn or leakage, use proper storage containers to freeze bone broth:
- Glass jars – Leave headspace, seal tightly. Thaw in fridge before opening.
- Freezer bags – Remove air, seal, and lay flat in freezer. Thaw in bag in fridge or container.
- Ice cube trays – Freeze broth in trays then transfer cubes to bags. Thaw what you need.
Avoid plastic containers and limit headspace to minimize air exposure. Glass jars make excellent bone broth freezer storage.
Thawing Frozen Bone Broth
Always thaw frozen bone broth properly before use:
- Thaw in the fridge overnight
- Place jar or bag in cold water, changing water every 30 mins
- Microwave in short bursts, stirring between
Avoid thawing at room temperature or microwaving in original container. This risks bacteria growth in the outer layers before the inside thaws.
Thaw only what you plan to consume within 3-4 days. Don’t refreeze thawed bone broth.
Wrap Up: Shelf Life of Bone Broths
To summarize, the shelf life of bone broth varies:
- Fresh homemade broth lasts 5-7 days refrigerated, ~1 year frozen
- Store-bought, shelf-stable broth lasts 2 years unopened
- Opened, store-bought broth lasts 5-7 days refrigerated
Proper storage is key for maximizing bone broth’s shelf life and retaining nutrition. Freezing in portions lets you enjoy bone broth for months.
Chicken broth and chicken soup also have similar storage guidelines. Enjoy leftover broth-based soups within 3-5 days or freeze for later.
I hope these tips help you store bone broth safely so you can enjoy its delicious flavors and nutritional benefits. Let me know if you have any other questions!