Beef Stock

Homemade stock (or broth, I often use the terms interchangeably) is the basis for so many delicious and nourishing recipes. Full of minerals, collagen and extremely digestible, stock is something worth taking the time to make and keep on hand.  The good news is that it is so easy, and definitely frugal. Once you’ve spent time and money finding real grassfed beef you want to use everything – which is of course exactly what our great-grandmothers did as part of their normal routine!

For a gallon or so of beef broth you will need:

3 lbs beef soup bones, marrow bones, oxtail, knuckle bones and/or calves’ feet preferably from locally raised grassfed beef

1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

1-2 stalks of celery

1-2 carrots

1 onion

4 quarts of filtered water

oxtails for beef broth cropped (these are oxtails ready for roasting)

Place the beef bones on a shallow roasting pan or foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until they are nice and toasty. Roasting the bones gives a depth of flavor to the finished broth that makes anything prepared with it so much more delicious.

Place the roasted bones in a large stainless steel stock pot. You can also do this in your slow cooker if you have one large enough to hold everything. Fill the pot with enough of the water to cover the bones and add the apple cider vinegar. Let this sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe. This soaking time with the added vinegar helps to break down the hard structure of the bone and allow the important minerals to leach out into the water making your homemade stock vastly superior to the store-bought stuff.

Wash the carrot, celery and onion and cut them into coarse chunks. You don’t have to peel anything as the skins will give a beautiful color to the finished stock. Add the vegetables to the pot, cover, and turn the heat to low.

Let this mixture cook for 12 to 24 hours occasionally checking the level of liquid and adding more filtered water as needed to keep the bones covered. The longer you can let this cook the richer the stock will be. If you have not used grassfed beef bones then you may have some foam or scum rise to the top. Simply skim this off as it rises and discard it. Pastured animals tend to have fewer impurities and consequently less foam when you make stock.

The real benefits come when you’ve leached all of the minerals possible from the bones and marrow. This gives your stock true healing properties that give sustenance to your body. Gelatin-rich broth contains calcium, magnesium and potassium and also promotes healthy digestion as well as healing the digestive tract itself.

When you are finished cooking, let the stock cool until you are able to handle it safely. Pour it through a strainer into a large bowl and discard all of the solids. You can slide out any marrow left inside the bones and mash it up into the stock for even more nutrition. I use an immersion blender to fully incorporate any extra marrow back into the stock.

Put the cooled stock into freezer-safe containers. I like to freeze a variety of sizes from ice cube size to quart size. This insures I have the right amount for any recipe I make. Chill the stock first to let the fat rise to the top and solidify. If you are going to freeze the stock right away then skim off the fat and save it in a separate container. (This is beef tallow! Don’t throw it out!) If you are going to refrigerate the broth to use in a few days then leave the fat on top. This layer of fat acts as a natural preservative to your broth keeping it fresher longer in the refrigerator. Be sure to use it within a few days or else freeze it for longer storage.

You can use the beef fat (tallow) as a healthy cooking fat. It makes great pan-fried potatoes and stands up well to the high heat of stir frying.

beef broth beef stew with ladle

Freeze your broth for later                                           or make beef stew tonight!