Your Step-By-Step Guide To Making Bone Broth At Home

Just in time for winter.

December 20, 2017
Bone broth recipe
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When it starts getting dark earlier and the temp dips, we all start to crave a cozy, hot beverage. Coffee and tea are great, but sometimes you just want something savory, and that is where bone broth comes in. It's a warm, nourishing soup alternative that can warm you up on the coldest days. Plus, many bone broth recipes are endlessly adaptable. It's a blank slate where you can add fresh herbs, chili oil, and even vinegar. And while it's certainly not a cure-all for every ailment, it does offer calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients while not being super-heavy on calories. 

One question: Is bone broth just glorified soup stock? Not quite, says chef Mathew Miller, director of banquets for Omni Hotels and formerly of Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges. "The main difference between good, old-fashioned stock and bone broth is in the way you intend to use it," Miller says. "Broth is more of a finished product that’s rich enough in flavor to have on its own. But when I hear stock, I think of a base or a building block to something else. Good bone broth is often thicker, and it is also usually cooked longer than the techniques some might use to make a quick stock to use as an ingredient in a soup or a sauce."

Related: 'I Swapped My Coffee For A Daily Cup Of Bone Broth—Here's What Happened'

But how do you make bone broth? Miller broke down his most basic, fail-proof, bone broth technique for us so you can try the fad at home—without shelling out tons of money for it at the store. Here's how to do it:

Meat bones
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Step 1: Stock up on bones

Miller starts with bones that he'd otherwise toss, but you can also get them from your butcher or local supermarket. "The great thing about bone broth is you can use what people generally throw out—neck, joints, things that have a lot of collagen, oxtail, and short ribs. The collagen helps to add thickness and make it more hearty than a thin stock or broth you might buy in the store, and adds depth of flavor too." Avoiding red meat? You don't have to stick with beef bones. You can throw the carcass of a roast chicken or turkey in the freezer after you are finished carving and bring it out when you are ready to use it for bone broth.

Roasting bones for broth
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Step 2: Roast your bones

Once Miller has the bones (three to four pounds of bones are ideal, but you can make due with less), he roasts them for a few minutes at 400 degrees (depending on how toasty he wants the broth to taste), but you don't have to roast them at all. "Roasting the bones, even for five to 10 minutes concentrates the flavors and adds depth to the finished broth, but it's also not a necessity," Miller says.

Related: Exactly What You Should Eat if You’re Trying to Lose Weight

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Slow cooker bone broth
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Step 3: Get cooking

Place the bones in a large stockpot or slow cooker and cover with water. No need to be exact, this is impossible to mess-up. Then add some veggies and spices for flavor. Feel free to customize this step! Miller likes to add mirepoix (a blend of chopped carrots, celery, and onions that you can sometimes find pre-prepped) and a sachet d' epices, which is a fancy name for a mix of peppercorns, bay leaves, dried parsley, and whole cloves that you can also buy pre-assembled. Miller also adds two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which will round out the flavors nicely.

"If you are using a stock pot, bring it to a rolling boil, then turn it on low and simmer at a very low temperature for at least 12 hours," says Miller. Then let the broth cool completely You can also cook in a slow cooker on low for 12 to 24 hours. Bone broth should be thicker when cooled than regular stock, from the long cook time and the collagen.

Here's the easiest roast chicken recipe EVER:

Bone broth
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Step 4: Season, serve, and save

"Wait to season with salt and pepper until the end, and add any other flavors you like at that time as well," says Miller. Some of my favorites options to add before serving for a kick are a drizzle of chili oil or balsamic vinegar or Herbs de Provence with sea salt. "You can also remove the fat after the broth has cooled—it will form a layer on the top that can act as a natural lid, which you can save to use for cooking to add a meaty kick to sautéed spinach, potatoes, or other vegetables to serve along side your nourishing broth. Mushrooms would be awesome," Miller says.

Related: The Crazy High-Protein Snack Angelina Jolie’s Kids Love

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Beef bone broth recipe

Ready to get started? Try this basic beef bone broth recipe from the Women's Health Bone Broth Diet Cookbook.

PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 12-24 HOURS

Yield: Varies depending on pot size; these ingredients are sufficient for 1 gallon of broth

4-5 pounds grass-fed beef bones, preferably marrow, joints, and knuckle bones
1 beef or pig's foot
3 pounds meaty bones such as oxtail, shank, or short ribs
1/4-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, depending on the size of the pot
Purified water to just cover the bones and meat in the pot
2-4 carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped
2 ribs organic celery, including leafy part, roughly chopped
1 onion, cut into large chunks
2 dried bay leaves
1-2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon peppercorns

1. Place all the bones in a slow cooker or large stockpot. Add the vinegar and enough purified water to cover everything by 1". Cover the pot.

2. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Use a shallow spoon to carefully skim the film off the top of the broth. If you are cooking in a slow cooker, wait for about 2 hours until the water gets warm before skimming, but continue with the next step.

3. Add the carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, cloves, and peppercorns and reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. You want the broth to barely simmer. Skim occasionally during the first 2 hours. Cook for at least 12 hours or up to 24, adding water as needed to ensure the bones are always covered with water. (You will likely have to add water during the cooking process.)

4. When the broth is done, turn off the cooker or remove the pot from the heat. Using tongs and/or a large slotted spoon, remove all the bones and meat. Save the beef for another recipe. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.

5. Let cool on the counter and refrigerate within 1 hour. You can skim off the fat easily after the broth is chilled, if desired. When chilled, the broth should be very gelatinous. The broth will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator and 3 or more months in your freezer.

The article Your Step-By-Step Guide To Making Bone Broth At Home originally appeared on Women’s Health.