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Making Beef Bone Stock

Here's a traditional food preparation that I will always go to the trouble for. There's just no comparison when you make your own stocks, primarily beef and chicken. Here's a batch with beef bones.

First, save all of your meat and bone scraps. Toss them in a bag in the freezer. You can also save your scraps from cutting up vegetables, such as the tops of carrots, outer skin of onions (adds color) celery tops, and so on.

My procedure isn't a lot different that that found in Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook everyone should have. Step one is to get your scraps, and I also always go and get 3 pounds or so of marrow bones. There's probably also some scraps of lamb bones, maybe even baby back ribs. It's all good.

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Simply put them in a crock pot, cover in water, and add anywhere from a couple of tablespoons to a half cup of vinegar. I use apple cider vinegar. Another popular thing to add is a calf's foot, as the collagen apparently gives you a thicker broth, requiring less reduction. I haven't done this but will try at some future point.

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Optionally, you can cut up an onion or two, with skin and add that, 2-3 carrots, and/or a stock or two of celery. In this case, I added an onion and a couple of carrots. No salt or pepper.

I let mine got for 48 hours and add water as it evaporates. If you don't have a crock pot and choose to simmer on the stove or in the oven, keeping the water level up might be difficult. You'll want to stay on top of it.

When finished, remove the bones with tongs or slotted spoon. Then you want to put it in the refrigerator to chill and let the fat rise to the top. When the fat is firm enough, scrape it off. Why? Well, I don't always want the fat in a dish, particularly a soup. If a sauce, I can always add leaf lard, butter, cream, ghee, or coconut milk or oil for added fat. Alternatively, one could retain the fat from this, freeze it, and break off bits to use in the future.

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The next step is to strain. Be sure to stir and stir that slurry around. You'll be surprised how much concentrated broth remains therein.

And here's how I store it in order to have different amounts for different things. mThose all go in the freezer and then the ice cubes and cupcake pucks are stored in a ziplock bag.

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Does anyone have anything to add to the procedure, or helpful hints? How about uses for you stock? What are y'all doing with it?

Late today or tomorrow I'll put up the first thing I used it in: braised beef short ribs.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

17 Comments

  1. Marc Feel Good Eating on May 12, 2009 at 13:09

    A trick I got from my grandma;
    I use cheese cloth to strain the soup. Easy to squeeze the ball of cheese cloth and get out all the broth.

    I use broth as broth a lot 😉
    Just heat up a big bowl and I'll toss in a couple of eggs or some veggies or whatever I have handy in the fridge.

    Looking forward to reading up on your short ribs.
    Marc

  2. David on May 12, 2009 at 13:29

    I usually make my stock without adding vegetables. However, a lot of times we'll make a roast, for example, and have carrots, onions garlic, over-ripe fruit or whatever in with it for flavour. When putting the bones in a the pot I always throw in the drippings from the roast pan. In fact, the first water I add to the pot is usually hot water sluiced around the roasting dish before I wash it. That is some of the best stuff for flavour.

    I then put the pot on to boil and leave it simmering for 24 hours or more at a low setting on the stove. I might need to add a bit of water once or twice, but it is no big deal.

    When done, I pour it through a collander into another pot or a big bowl and let drain. Finally I pick through the the bones because there is often an amazing amount of really good meat. You can either throw that back into the stock or set it aside to add to a soup.

    When I make my soup I'm like Marc – toss in whatever's on the fridge that needs to be used up. I generally add leeks, because I like them.

    There's no reason not to do what Richard suggests with celery tops, onion skins and other stuff, I just don't keep that stuff around.

    For anyone that wonders why simmer the stock so long … have a look at the amount of calcium dissolved out of the bones into the stock – and that's what's visible.

    David

  3. Aaron Blaisdell on May 12, 2009 at 13:54

    I follow the Nourishing Traditions recipes for bone or chicken stocks fairly closely. I use my stock mostly for soups. My favorite breakfast is one hard boiled egg in broth with some unrefined salt added, followed by a cup of delicious full-fat yogurt. Great way to start the day!

  4. JT on May 12, 2009 at 14:40

    I made my first bone broth just this year. It was fantastic! I can't believe I've been throwing away chicken carcasses all these years, what a waste.

    The broths I've made with pastured chicken bones have been the best yet. After cooling for a night in the fridge the broth has pretty much turned into gelatin. I love eating it that way – chicken jello. Mmmmmmm.

    I pretty much follow the Nourishing Traditions recipe as well. Some call for covering the bones with water, adding the apple cider vinegar and then letting it sit for an hour or two before turning on the heat.

    I've also made turkey bone broth which tastes wonderful but did not become gelatin like. Next up I'm going to try some duck bones.

    Great post! Thanks!

  5. Kate on May 12, 2009 at 20:16

    Richard, It's much easier to strain the broth before you put into the fridge overnight to let the fat congeal. You get a really nice gel, without having to pick out the veges. I purchased a slow cooker to make my broths, but never used it after fellow NT'ers said you can't make good stock in it, something about not being able to skim the impurities which apparently is important according to NT. Since then, I've seen many post with broths being made in crockpots, so I think I'll give it another go. Thanks!

  6. Jessica on May 12, 2009 at 20:26

    My method is pretty similar to yours, with a few additions. I have several 1 pound packages of grass-fed cow livers in the freezer, and always toss a package into my bone broth. Also, sometimes I'll add a pig's foot or hock (fresh, not smoked, of course).

    When the stock is ready, I strain it and pour it into quart size canning jars, and just leave the fat on top. I freeze one or two jars and keep one in the fridge for immediate use.

    I like the idea of having different prepared portions, though…I think I'll do that next time.

    Great Post!

  7. Anna on May 12, 2009 at 21:50

    I love making broth! People complain sometimes about how the aroma goes throughout the house, but I think it's great and smells like love! If broth aroma doesn't float your boat, open some windows, I guess.

    I add a split pig's foot when I have one (you can always get those cheap at a Latino market if you can't get them from a conventional butcher) to broths for Portuguese sausage soup, and chicken feet to chicken broth. Makes the most wonderfully gelatinous broths. I'm working on finding calf's feet for beef broth. That natural gelatin is great for our own GI lining and joints.

    I count on the bioavailable minerals in broth instead of taking calcium supplements! Roasting meaty neck bones a bit, prior to broth making, intensifies the flavor.

    If the broth is going to be frozen for later use, when it is strained and skimmed, I simmer it uncovered on the stove (not boiling) to let some water evaporate. Then when it has concentrated almost to th epoint of becoming demi-glace, I let it cool, then freeze it. Takes up less freezer space. I tend to toss any skimmed fat that has simmered a long time (more than 12 hours) to avoid oxidated fats. Less of an issue with saturated fats, but with chicken fat, unless I know it wasn't fed a lot of soy and corn (very unusual), I have to assume a high amount of unstable PUFAs in the fat, so it's better to toss fat that has cooked a very long time.

    I am so over the convenience of bullion cubes, powder, or "Better than Bullion" and canned or aseptic packages of broth. The Migraineur says that packaged chicken broth is like the water one rinses chicken with, when compared to homemade broth – I couldn't agree more! As you've described, Richard, a zip bag on the freezer for carrot, onion, and celery scraps, and another for bones, and a slow cooker pot – makes broth making a piece of cake (ever notice how many wheat-origin words and phrases are in the English language?). I just froze some celery today – I had some left from my last CSA box, some in this week's box, and it was too long to fit in my crisper. So I chopped up the older stuff, chopped off the leafy end of the new stuff so it would fit (1 or 2 minutes at most) – gave it a rinse in the salad spinner, spun the water out, bagged and froze it.

    When I have time, I like to chop a LOT of onions, either by hand or in a food processor. Then I freeze the diced onions in convenient quantities for future use. When I'm pressed for time or out of whole onions (it happens), it's great to whack a bag of frozen diced onions on the counter to break up the clumps, then toss them into a hot buttered saute pan or broth.

  8. Richard Nikoley on May 12, 2009 at 15:02

    I've tried to get in the habit of tossing veg scraps into a freezer bag so they're there when I need them. The vegetable seems to help with thickening when I'm making a meat sauce. Probably the modest amount of starch.

  9. Michael Bender on May 13, 2009 at 12:26

    I have classical culinary training and I must say that you covered the basics.

    The only point I would like to emphasize is to be sure to start with cold water, the colder the better. It helps the gelatin in the marrow bones dissolve before congealing. It will make your stock nice and jello like. Not a bad idea to soak them in cold water for a few hour or overnight before firing up the crockpot.

    Hooves are full of gelatin. Add away – same with tails, necks and knuckle bones.

    For darker stocks – roast the bones and vegetables before covering with cold water. The sugars will brown adding color and flavor.

    Classic vegetable flavorings: onion, carrot, celery (no leaves please) in a 2:1:1 ratio respectively. If you like leeks use 1 part leeks so the ratio is 1:1:1:1. Leeks also add even more gelatin to the mix.

    Bayleaf, peppercorns and thyme is the classic herb combo.

    French chefs sometimes do a second round with the same bones for a more neutral stock (remoulage if I remember correctly – it has been nearly 25 years so I might be off on the term). It requires more time to reduce but the outcome is just as gelataneous as the first round. It is good in place of unflavored gelatin.

  10. Richard Nikoley on May 13, 2009 at 09:14

    Yea, I think the crock pot is ideal. I plan on getting the Cuisinart one. Pricey, but I'll use it a lot.

  11. Richard Nikoley on May 13, 2009 at 09:21

    Thanks for lots of great contributions, Ana. I was just looking into the CSA thing. Can you briefly describe how it works and how to find a good one?

  12. Richard Nikoley on May 13, 2009 at 12:36

    Thanks, Michael. Great suggestions. How about demi glace without the wheat for the roux? Just reduce more, or might there be a substitute?

  13. Michael Bender on May 14, 2009 at 07:38

    Good question,

    I don't think a true demi can be made without the roux. Traditionally it is equal parts browned veal stock and brown veal veloute (gravy or sauce)reduced by half (demi). But who needs a "true" demi, as long as the product tastes good?

    I like your idea of reducing the stock more. When I last earned my salt as a chef (1988ish) the trend was away from traditional preparations and toward pure reduction sauces. The concentrated flavors are terrific and the geltins provide plenty of body. The ingredients, if not the extensive preparation, are pure paleo.

  14. jon winchester on June 6, 2009 at 12:59

    I just came across this post, but have been making my own for awhile. The meat from pigs feet (trotters) is a treat to pick off the bones after a few hours boiling. Chicken feet are another great collagen and flavor source, and my kids love to eat them after cooling out of the broth. Make some beet or red cabbage soup in this stuff (without salt) and refrigerate: you have a just sweet-enough delicious red jello, great with yogurt or sour cream.

    for more on trotters, check out this link below – I've made the meat pie with guinness, but there are endless paleo uses for "trotter gear" and it's an amazing thing to keep a few quarts in the freezer.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/magazine/22food-t-002.html

  15. Travis on January 14, 2010 at 11:33

    You can also clarify your stocks if you so desire. I’ve done this with chicken stock and it works very well:

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/basic-chicken-stock/Detail.aspx

    Just see number 3 in the directions. This will work for beef stock too.

    The egg white and the shells form what’s called a raft by some, rising to the top. Along the way, any remaining small particles will be trapped.

    OK, now I want to go home and make some stock!

  16. tonya on February 10, 2010 at 19:06

    Thank you for the great info! My family has been weston pricers for about 5 years but have recently started the GAPS diet wich uses a ton of bone broth. I am completely worn out of trying to make good beef broth. I was wondering, do you always put a bay leave, tyme, and peppercorns in beef broth? Is that what I’m missing? Also does anybody have a good beef soup recipe that has no potatoes, grains, tomatoes or milk?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 11, 2010 at 11:01

      No, I just do different things and sometimes I add nothing to it.

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