Have you ever made, or tasted, bitter broth?
Long-cooked broth is often dark in color — and bitter. Is it possible to salvage? Make it taste better? Less bitter, maybe?
But, it’s still useable!
Before we get there though, let’s talk about why the broth goes bitter in the first place.
Chemically, what’s happening?
Just as the enzyme lipase breaks down fats and eventually turns them rancid (learn how to avoid rancid bone broth), proteases degrade protein chains and eventually make proteins bitter.
This process occurs during cooking. The longer the bones and meat cook, the more the proteases break the bonds connecting the proteins, and the more amino acids get detached (source).
It just so happens that we taste many of these amino acids and protein fragments as bitter. Once we reach this point, there’s no going back. We can’t reconnect the amino acids. Bitterness has resulted.
Therefore, the best way to fix bitter broth is to avoid it next time!
Learn how to make broth here. Avoid the longer cooking times, and shoot for a flavorful, gelatin-rich stock that cooks for just 3 hours. Or, cook your bones up to 24 hours to get more minerals from the bones. Either way, the resulting nutrient-dense broth isn’t bitter!
Incidentally, plant proteases exist as well, which is why long-cooked vegetables get bitter.
What to do with bitter broth? Make a bisque!
If you’re frugal and don’t want to discard the bitter broth, make a bisque to hide the flavor.
Steam or simmer veggies like onions, zucchini, winter squash, or peppers. Cool them and the broth slightly. Add about 3 cups each of veggies and broth to a blender. Then add flavor! 1- or 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sea salt, white pepper… Fresh garlic, too, and lots of fresh or dried herbs.
To finish it up, add 1/4 cup butter, bacon fat, or fatty parts from a carcass (including the skin). Simply puree the mixture on medium-high speed for 30 to 50 seconds, and enjoy!
Bisques also make a great base for soups. Add meat and sauteed veggies, and create a delicious soup from a mediocre broth.
Check out this post, too, for ideas on how to add your bitter broth to a blended soup!
Have you been boiling your broth too long? How have you used bitter broth? I’d love to hear your experiences.
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Hi I make scotch broth soup day one good day two bitter n sour
I buy soup veg mix in a bag soak my scotch broth mix in water for 2 to 3 hours so put veg mix in pan bring to boil add broth mix then two veg cubes bring to the. boil then simmer for 30 mins as I said day one soup is great second day bitter but I didn’t put the soup in the fridge could this be why my soup is off
I really appreciated this article! 24 hrs. Wasn’t enough, but 24 hrs. In a slow cooker on low… turned it bitter! I’m going to keep it, but likely combine it in soups with a regular broth to cut the bitterness. Thanks for the info, I was wondering if I should throw it out!
Pressure cooker on high for 2 hours with kitchen scraps and chicken bones, turned out bitter.
You saved my broth. I have never had a bitter broth before. I just used your suggestions and added what vegetables I had on hand. I spiced it up and perfect.
I made venison broth several years ago, roasted the marrow bones(leg only) over a fire till they were actually soft, then brought them to a boil, and reduced heat to a simmer for about 8 hrs- tasted it later, awesome!
this year, it used All the Bones of the deer, roasted again over a fire, and tasted it- burnt flavor.. there was likely more meat on the bones this year, and some of that meat got very charred, which I imagine is why the broth has a burnt flavor. So, what do you think ? And is it savable, perhaps by bisquing it ??? thx
I have been told if the broth (veg water mix) is completely vegan you can continue to add to in indefinitely. Does this only work in a soup kitchen fashion when the pot is never turned off? I had the idea of trying to keep a base (vegan broth) on my counter top for the entirety of winter topping it up every day and having a separate pan that I add meat or dairy to depending on what I have that day/week. But I didn’t do it for a day or so and I think it started to ferment, do I need to start again or can I continue to dilute it with water, root veg and heat. Tya
Thank you! My broth has not been bitter previously, but the last two batches have been. Not sure why. But I will cook 24 hours unstead of 48 for my chicken bones and see if that helps.