Monday, April 7, 2014

Homemade Beef Stock

When is last time you made a pot of beef stock? Well, I for one, never had... until now! When a recipe calls for "broth" or "stock" I've always just grabbed a couple of bouillon cubes, or a can or box of broth if I splurged and happened to have some on hand! After all, broth is just for flavor... right?! Apparently not, my friends. (By the way, "broth" and "stock" are very similar and are often used interchangeably, but stock apparently is made with bones and trim, while broth is made primarily with meat.)
My friend Eryn at From Famine to Foodie has done the hard work on researching the amazing benefits of homemade bone broth, so I'm going to quote her here.  

In her article How a Bowl of Soup Can Heal Your Joints, Bones, Scars, and Stretch Marks!, she speaks of what our society's switch from homemade bone broth to laboratory created meat flavor has cost us:
With this trade we forfeited a whole line of defense against chronic pain, weak joints, brittle bones, scarring, and wrinkles. This set the stage for pharmaceutical companies, skin care companies, and the ever-growing trend of supplement lines we are seeing pop up all over. And to think that all these expensive pain killers, supplements, and skin creams could be avoided if we would only reincorporate bone broth into our diets!
She also lists many of the amazing benefits of incorporating bone broth into our everyday eating. Check it out:  
  • Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur. Broth presents these minerals in a way that is easy for our bodies to absorb. (Broth is a good source of calcium for those who are lactose intolerant and don’t drink milk)
  • Biomolecules which build, protect, and can even repair your joints
  • Builds strong, healthy bones
  • Can help prevent or improve arthritis
  • The collagen from bone broth heals our own collagen, which means it helps prevent and improve stiff joints, stretch marks, scars, and wrinkles.
  • The gelatin in homemade broth aids our bodies in digestion of other foods
Basically, bone broth is extraordinarily beneficial for your bones, joints, ligaments, and skin! (Read more>>>)
So here are the facts, folks:
Homemade bone broth is delicious, healthy and healing, and (you will be pleased to hear) simple and straightforward to make in your kitchen!

Confession: I have a quarter cow in my freezer.  Ok, well, true confession: we bought the beef several months ago, so much a whole lot less than a quarter cow is left in my freezer. Yay beef! I had never bought soup bones before, but when I was talking the butcher about what cuts I wanted for my quarter and she asked "You want any soup bones?" and I thought to myself, What the hay, I live on a farm. And thus confidently responded, "Please." (If you don't have a quarter cow in your freezer, you can get soup bones from your butcher. Don't have a butcher? Ask at the meat counter of your local grocery.)
I've made chicken stock before, and from what I read beef stock is pretty similar. So this is how it went down...

I put those meaty beef bones in a baking pan along with chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and some ground black pepper. Add herbs and salt if you'd like.
Roast the bones and veggies for 45-55 mins at 425 or until they look, uh, roasted. Don't burn 'em though.
Then just transfer it all from your roasting pan to a large crock pot. Pour in water until the bones are completely covered. (You'll want to pour a little water into that roasting pan to take advantage of that goodness and add it to you the crock pot as well.)
Please note that you could put the bones and veggies directly into the crock and still make a hearty broth, but the flavor you get by roasting them first is fantastic! Well worth the effort, I'd say.
Let that stock simmer on low for a good 8 hours. Your house will smell fantastic all day.
Let the crock come to room temperature and remove all of the bones and veggies. (My bones were meaty so I saved all of the meat for a stew!) You pour the stock through a colander to remove all of the little particles. I opted not to this time.. I just used a slotted spoon to remove what I could. A little beefy sediment in my stock was alright with me.

Chill the stock in the fridge overnight. Once it's completely chilled, you'll be able to easily remove the fat from the top.
 Your stock might be will be thick... I used to think that anything with that texture was fatty. No, my dears, that is not necessarily the case. What you're seeing is natural gelatin. I've heard of some mamas making a thick stock into molds and serving it to their children as beef jello. That's a little intense for me at this point. I'm starting with using it in soup and stew, sauce and stir fry. I'll have to work up to beef jello. (Mine wasn't as thick as I anticipated... maybe I used too much water?)
I freeze my stock in mason jars. (Ziploc bags will also do the trick. To save freezer space, freeze them flat and then stand or stack them.) You can even freeze stock in cubes - pour it into an ice cube tray, freeze, and then store in freezer bags.

I couldn't freeze all that stock without trying it though! So I cooked up some potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots and onions, threw in the meat I had removed from the bones, and added my homemade stock for a hearty beef soup. *slurrrp* Ahh.

Oh, horrors. I was just about to post this when I decided to go look at the bouillon I currently have in my cabinet. It's only been in the last few months that I've become an avid ingredient label reader, and apparently I bought this before I started actually caring about what was in my food. This beef bouillon contains primarily salt and some unrecognizable ingredients like "monosodium glutamate" and "hydrolyzed soy protein" and less than 2% of dehydrated beef stock! They also threw in some Red 40 for good measure. No thanks. The container has now been sealed and donated to the culinary endeavors of Elsie G's Play Kitchen. 
 In the spectrum of bouillon cubes to beef jello, where do you land?


  1. I remember as a little girl how much Grammy's Uncle Walter from Poland used to enjoy Galareta (jellied pigs feet). He enjoyed it on rye bread topped with garlic. I would say he'd be one in the beef jello spectrum! When you added your roasted goodies to the crock pot, did you swish hot water in the roasting pan to get more of the flavors off the pan to add to the crock pot too besides adding the plain water? I also wondered, do you know if there are some crock pots that are made to go in the oven, where the roasting and slow cooking could then both be done in the same pot? Your cooking tips and recipes are inspiring and tantalizing! Thank you so much!

    1. Ok now jellied pigs feet... now THAT is intense!! (I'll bet he had great skin though!!) Yes, I did swish hot water in the roasting pan to get all of that goodness. I haven't researched to see if my crock is oven proof... if it is that would be perfect! I'll have to check into that. Thank you!


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