Homemade Beef Bone Stock

I told John I was in the process of writing a post on beef stock and he said all I need to write is, “It’s delicious. The end.” Indeed, stock is very delicious but there’s more to it than that! Read on…

I haven’t purchased any stock in over a year since I’ve discovered how easy it is to make at home.  Making your own stock may sound like a very difficult task, but just look at it as simply simmering bones and vegetables in water. Not so intimidating anymore, is it?

Mastering homemade stock should be at the top of the priority list for those that are wanting to transition to a Real Food lifestyle. That is because it is far more nutritious than anything you’ll find on the grocery store shelf…even when comparing to organic stock. The store bought stuff is basically just flavored water with MSG thrown in to enhance it’s flavor. Here are ingredient decks for 3 popular organic stock options:

  • Filtered water, organic beef stock (organic beef stock, sea salt, flavor), sea salt, organic caramel color, natural flavors (includes yeast extract), organic evaporated cane syrup.
    -Notice the “flavor” ingredient? That along with the second mention of “natural flavors” and yeast extract typically indicates MSG. This stock also contains caramel color, and sugar in the form of evaporated cane syrup. Why would stock ever need to contain sugar? Makes no sense!
  • Organic Beef flavored stock (filtered water, organic beef, organic beef stock), sea salt, organic caramel color, yeast extract, organic onion powder, organic evaporated cane juice, organic natural flavors, xanthan gum, organic spice.
    -This stock also contains MSG in the form of yeast extract, natural flavors and organic spice. Anytime a label just says “spices” without mentioning specific ones, you can bet that it’s MSG. The caramel color, evaporated cane juice (sugar) and xantham gum are unnecessary.
  • Organic beef stock (water, organic beef), sea salt, organic evaporated cane juice, organic onion powder, autolyzed yeast extract, organic garlic powder, organic caramel color, organic black pepper.
    -Once again MSG, sugar and unnecessary coloring are present in this ready-made organic stock.

 

As with any Real Food recipe, the quality of the ingredients is key in order to get optimal health benefits. Grass-fed beef bones are best, but if all you can find is organic then that is ok. Whole Foods usually sells grass-fed marrow bones in the freezer case by their butcher counter. For the vegetables and herbs, organic is best. I like using unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, but any vinegar will be ok.

9 times out of 10 I keep it really simple by just using the basic ingredients listed. You can spice it up a bit more by incorporating some or all of the optional ingredients listed if you’d prefer.

Basic Ingredients:

  • Beef  bones…I typically use marrow bones
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Filtered Water

Optional Ingredients:

  • Bay Leaves
  • Peppercorns
  • Whole Garlic Cloves
  • Parsley
  • Thyme

Instructions:

1) Roast bones at 375 degrees F until browned. The length of time depends on size and amount of bones you have, usually anywhere between 30-60 minutes. Roasting them gives the stock a rich flavor. I don’t always roast them if I’m pressed for time, but just be aware that using un-roasted bones may lead to a more sour tasting stock.

2) Place bones in crock pot with vegetables and 2 tablespoons vinegar.

3) Add enough filtered water to just cover the bones. Let sit for 1 hour to allow vinegar to draw out minerals from bones.

4) Turn the crock pot on low and allow to simmer for 12-72 hours. The longer you allow it to simmer, the more minerals, gelatin and nutrients will be drawn out. Don’t simmer for more than 72 hours though or else the stock will have a burnt taste.  If the water level gets too low as it simmers then just add more water to cover the bones. Making sure the water level doesn’t get too low will also prevent a burnt taste.

5) About 2 hours before you are done simmering, add in any herbs like parsley or thyme if that is what you’d like to do. I typically don’t add any herbs.

6) After stock is finished simmering, strain the bones and vegetables through a strainer into a large bowl.

That’s it! You now have delicious and healthy homemade beef stock without all the nasty additives!

I like to let the stock cool a bit in the bowl. You will notice that the fat rises to the top. You can spoon off the fat at this point.

Once the stock is cooled off a bit, I like to divide it up between quart size mason jars.  I usually keep 1 jar in the fridge to either make a soup that week or enjoy the broth in a mug like tea. I freeze the rest for later use.  If freezing, make sure to leave at least 1 inch empty space between the stock and the lid because the liquid will expand as it freezes. If you don’t leave a good amount of space then the jar may break.

If you simmered the bones enough then you should notice your broth taking on a gel consistency when refrigerated. This lets you know that you drew out gelatin from the bones which will help aid digestion, among other health benefits. If you did simmer your stock for a good length of time and it still didn’t gel, then more than likely you just added too much water and the gelatin is a bit watered down. Rest assured that some gelatin is still in your stock, definitely more than if it was store bought!

You can immediately throw the bones into the crock pot again with new vegetables to cook a new batch of stock. Each new batch will be weaker than the previous, but the weakened stock will still contain some vitamins and minerals which would be great to replace plain ole water when making rice or other dishes.

Shared on Pennywise Platter and Real Food Wednesday.

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