Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beef Stock

I wanted to make Beef Stock following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  I've never made stock before, but it seemed easy and very nutritious.  According to Sally Fallon, if stock is properly prepared, "meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate." 

I have a huge stainless-steel 21 quart waterbath canner that I used to make my stock.  No need for me to run out and buy another pot!  You could also use a crockpot (this is a good choice if you are uncomfortable leaving your stock on the stove overnight or have to leave the house).  The drawback of the crockpot is that you get less stock.

My first task was to track down some beef bones.  I wanted some bones from pastured cows, so I called Whole Foods.  They set some aside for the hefty price of $3.99 per pound (I got $20 worth).  In the future, I don't think I'll be so picky.  We recently went out to dinner and 3 of us had prime rib.  I could have saved those 3 bones in the freezer, but at the time, I didn't know I was going to be making beef stock.  I put out the word to my family and coworkers to save any beef (and chicken...for chicken stock) bones they may get for me.

While I was at Whole Foods, I also picked up 3 yellow onions, 3 carrots, celery, fresh thyme and parsley (which, I forgot to use).  I wanted to use organic produce because I was trying to make a healthy stock, and pesticides aren't my idea of healthy.  If it were the summer, I would have picked up the produce at the farmers market.

One thing I might change next time is to attempt to track down a calves foot (which was an optional ingredient in the recipe).  I really don't know where to begin to look for one.  My stock turned out great, but it could have been thicker...meaning it could have contained more gelatin.  According to Fallon, "proteinaceous gelatin in meat broths has the unusual property of attracting liquids-it is hydrophilic-even after it has been heated.  The same property by which gelatin attracts water to form desserts, like Jello, allows it to attract digestive juices to the surface of cooked food particles."  She also says that gelatin is a digestive aid...great for people with intestinal disorders, as well as a protein sparer, meaning it helps the body use the proteins that it takes in.  So, it's great for people with anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and cancer.

Ok, now on to the cookin'.  First I roasted the bones in the oven at 400 degrees until they were browned. 

While the bones were roasting, I cleaned the carrots and celery, and cut up the vegetables.  There's no need to chop them up really small.  A rough chop is fine.

One more important note is the vinegar.  The vinegar is important because it, "helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth."  After reading about real food, I chose fermented raw vinegar.

I put the roasted bones, vegetables, and a 1/2 cup of vinegar into the giant pot.  Then I covered them all up with filtered water and let them sit for an hour.

After an hour, I added more filtered water and turned the burner on to high.  Once the water was boiling, I turned it down to a simmer, and skimmed off all the nasty stuff that floated to the top.  Then I added a bunch of thyme (tied together with kitchen string) and about a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

I let my stock simmer for 36 hours.  The recipe says anywhere from 12 to 72 hours is good.  During the last 10 minutes I was supposed to add a bunch of parsley, but I forgot. 

This is what it looked like when it was done. 
After letting it cool, I pour it through a fine strainer into a bunch of quart jars and a couple of juice pitchers.  There was some meat left in there from the bones, and I ended up giving that to my dogs as a special treat.  They loved it.

Then, they were refrigerated overnight.  As it cools in the refrigerator, the fat rises to the top and gets hard.  It makes it easy for you to take it off (I just used a spoon).  I just threw it in the garbage, but you could always render it if you want.

See the fat at the top?

Ewww...congealed fat!

All of my stock with the fat removed.
Now I had to decide how to store it.  I like to make French onion soup, and the recipe I use calls for one can (which is 15 ounces).  I decided to freeze most of the stock in 15 ounces in plastic bags.  EDIT:  oops.  I guess it calls for a 14 oz. can.  Oh well.  Close enough.

I also froze some in ice cube trays.  They'll be good for stir frys.

I laid the bags flat in a pan so that when they are frozen, they won't take up much space.  I have 14 bags, so I had to make sure to take up as little space as possible.  I'm glad I had them in the pan, too.  One of the bags leaked, and that would not have been fun to clean up if it was all over the freezer.

I thought I'd post my costs.  If I had some FREE bones, this broth would be much more economical.  Even still, I got 14- 15 oz. bags, plus 6 ice cube trays (which each have 14 ounces).  That is roughly 20 cans of beef stock.  I'm not sure the cost in the store, but the organic broth is probably at least $2 per can.

Beef Bones from Pastured Cows  $20.15
Organic Onions  $2.65
Organic Celery  $1.36
Organic Carrots $0.71
Thyme  $2.00
Apple Cider Vinegar  $1.25
TOTAL  $28.12

A couple of great posts about making your own beef stock are at Nourished Kitchen and Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

This post has been linked up to:  Simple Lives Thursday and Hearth and Soul


  1. What a great post! I love the idea of freezing the stock in ice cube trays! I'm going to do that next time :D Thanks for linking up!!

  2. I love the step by step instruction. I had never made a large batch of Beef broth but after reading your post I am ordering beef bones for my next WPF drop.

    Muchas Gracias!


  3. One suggestion for future makings: you don't need to discard the paper from the onions. Just take the whole onion, quarter it, and throw it in. I also save skins from onions I've chopped for other cooking, along with celery ends and other such. Freeze them and they don't take up much room.

    Do you have any cattle farmers in your area you trust? Ask them for hooves.

  4. Terrific tutorial! The vinegar part is new to me, I did not know the nutriant value it could provide, thanks for sharing that information.


  5. Great post! The first time I tried to make beef broth I didn't read any instructions. I figured it would be the same as making chicken stock. It wasn't. I start my chicken stock with raw chicken, and the beef stock was TERRIBLE! I ruined it and my house smelled like rotting animals for a week!

  6. This is a timely post for me, since I made beef stock for the first time this week!

    I'm wondering about simmering for so long. Does it bother you to sleep while your stove is on? I have a gas stove, and don't know if I could sleep with something cooking all night!

    I only simmered mine about 8 hours, and it's not nearly dark enough. Bummer.

  7. Katy- I have an electric stove, and while I hate it most of the time, I guess this is one advantage it has. I made sure the smoke alarm was working before we went to bed, but I actually wasn't too worried.

    Soli- But the paper part of the onion has dirt on it. Or do I wash it with the paper part still on, and throw it in? I have read a few different posts about people using their veggie scraps (carrot tops and peels, etc) for their stock.

    I do have a farmer I trust...I'll have to see what he says. :)

  8. I am going to be making the beef stock hopefully this week. I made the NT chicken stock a few times already and love it. I love the idea of the ice cube trays. Thanks!

  9. This is something I've never done, but have always wanted to. This was such an informative and inspiring post. I think I'm going to try this.

  10. Hi Adrienne! I make marrow stock all the time! I love having it in the house. A few tips. First, you do NOT have to roast the bones. IN fact the stock comes out much more clarified and lighter in color, but not in flavor if you do not roast the bones. Second, the fat on the top of the stock is marrow rendered tallow and it is VERY healthy for you to use in frying, so you can scoop that out and store it in a separate plastic bag to use to fry up some potatoes. I buy beef tallow from my dairy club! The cost of marrow bones from whole foods is going to be more expensive than those from a local butcher and I can tell you that Whole Foods does NOT carry pastured animal products. They may carry all natural or organic but I have never once seen grass fed meats at whole foods. Either find a local butcher or ask around for pastured beef sources and usually the bones are much cheaper. I have a whole bag of marrow bones from my dairy club and they cost me about 5 bucks. Thanks so much for sharing your stock making experience on the hearth and soul hop! All the best! Alex

  11. I usually can my stock in a pressure canner. I either use the big one, that holds up to 19 pints stacked on top in two layers, or in quarts.

    Last weekend I finished up a turkey carcass into 14 quarts of turkey vegetable soup. Sometimes I cook barley or noodles and add it in later when I open a jar because they do not pressure can well. One jar with additions, seasoned after opening, will make four decent sized bowls at dinner.

    see photos at

  12. Adrienne, if the paper is dirty I'd just wipe it off. Or take the advice of my Swedish grandmother, who used to say a little dirt is good for the system.

  13. Yeah, $3.99/lb is way too much, but that broth looks beautiful. :)


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