Homemade Beef Stock: Why You Should Make Your Own

by lydia on November 22, 2010

Store bought beef broth does not even light a candle compared to beef stock made from scratch at home. Making your own beef stock at home is highly nutritious in more ways than one, and makes a great use of the whole animal. Thanks to modern day processing people have forgone this age old traditional practice. Homemade Beef Stock from healthy animals contains minerals that are highly assimilable. Not to mention, beef stock contains gelatin which acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease. Gelatin, is by no means a complete protein, it acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. Gelatin rich broths are very important for those who cannot afford large amounts of meats in their diet. Which is where my family is at, low budget, so I make stock to have soups every day, this is a great budget stretcher. You will not find the same health benefits in a carton of store bought stock I guarantee you!

The other beautiful thing about making your own beef stock is the amount of fat that it contains. As a strong supporter of saturated animal fats in the diet, this is a fabulous bonus to the already great nutrition that comes from homemade beef stock. After having listened to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride last weekend at the WAPF conference, she stated that we need to get about 40% of our daily diet as animal fat. She also noted that if you are constipated, then you need to eat more animal fat. Well, this past week I followed her advice and focused on getting more fat into my diet, and I have already experienced good results. Now I must make a quick disclaimer, if you are not already consuming more generous amounts of fats, it’s not wise to dive into the deep end of the pool. Transitioning into consuming fats from a lower fat lifestyle should be slow and perhaps started with coconut oil, butter and maybe chicken fat. This will help your gallbladder get back into commission again in a gentle way and will be easier on your tummy.

To find good quality bones for stock, purchase grass fed bones from your Farmer’s Market or ask for all the bones when purchasing a side or portion of beef from a farmer. Whole Foods also carries marrow bones and other cuts of grass fed beef that would work for stock, like meaty rib bones or even oxtail. Using a calves foot will help give your stock a better gel, but is not necessary. It’s also a very good idea to go ahead and make as much stock as you can, double or even triple this recipe to make as many as 15 or so quarts of stock.

Homemade Beef Stock

Ingredients:

  • (Recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions)
  • about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
  • 1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
  • 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
  • (you can also use assorted bones saved from roasts, scraps and trimmings, cartilage and sinew saved from other cuts of beef)
  • 4 or more quarts cold filtered water, enough to cover the bones by 2 to 3 inches
  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3 large onions, coarsely chopped (or, several leeks)
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
  • a palm full of crushed peppercorns
  • several bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of parsley (optional)
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. It is important to use several sorts of bones: knuckle bones and feet impart large quantities of gelatin to the broth; marrow bones impart flavor and the particular nutrients of bone marrow; and meaty rib or neck bones add color and flavor.
  2. Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned (this can take as little as 20 minutes), add them to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, and add to the stock pot. Add enough cold filtered water to the pot to cover the bones by 2-3 inches, leaving at least one inch of room from the top of the pot, as the volume expands a bit during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme, bay leaves and crushed peppercorns.
  3. Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. (I prefer to let mine go for the full 72 hours.) Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove the bones and save them for another batch of stock. I usually reuse my bones at least once for smaller bones, and up to 3 times for much larger bones in another batch. I will get some fresh meaty bones to mix up with the already used bones to ensure I get some more flavor and nutrients. Strain the stock and cool in the fridge. Your jars of stock will have a layer of congealed fat on top and you can leave that in or remove it and save it for cooking with. Your stock should also be very thick and gelatinous when cooled.
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The marrow can be removed from bones and eaten or even given to a pet. You can also use the congealed fat to make pemmican or if you so desire feed the birds or a pet with. (not me, I’ll be consuming all that good fat!) 

Also, you do not have to waste the bones after just one batch of stock, you can use them again to make more stock. After each batch of stock, I save the bones in a large bag in the freezer. When I am ready to make another batch of stock, all I need is some meaty bones or oxtails to add to the used bones. This helps to add flavor, fat and more gelatin to the next batch of bone broth. I have used beef bones many many times before throwing them away. When they start to crumble you may want to discard them. The larger marrow bones last the longest. For more info on the benefits and how to’s of bone broth, check out this article by Mark Sisson: Cooking with Bones.

This post contributed to Monday Mania.

Are you new to making homemade broths and stocks? If you want to learn from the best on all the ins and outs of homemade broth making, plus obtain numerous recipes and uses for broth -check out my friend Patty of Loving Our Guts eBook; ‘Broth Elixir of Life‘. Gorgeous photos and step by step instructions, plus information on all the healing benefits of broth and why you should make it a staple part of your healthy kitchens.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Janna November 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

Thank you for this tutorial, its perfect timing as we are purchasing our first side of beef this year and I am requesting all the bones, tails and feet that I can get my hands on! The one question I have about making any sort of stock is how much vinegar to use? I haven’t ever seen a measurement, and am unsure of how much to use. A teaspoon? Half a cup? Will I use the same amount for chicken stock as well? Thank you!!

Reply

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist November 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Hi Lydia, thanks for stopping by Monday Mania with this recipe. We all need beef stock this time of year, don’t we with all the colds and flu going around! Using lots of stock keeps those bugs at bay!

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Musings of a Housewife November 23, 2010 at 10:22 am

HOW do you have enough pots for 15 quarts of anything? Perhaps I’ll just buy my beef stock from the farm, lol.

And also, I am also trying to get more fat in my gluten-free diet, but without bread to slather my butter on, I’m not sure how to get that much butter into me. I’m definitely struggling with, ahem, a bit of a backup. :-)

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lydia November 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Janna,

This recipe calls for a half cup. Chicken stock is different – do a search on here for my chicken stock recipe and it will tell you!!

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lydia November 23, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Jo-Lynn,

I have a huge stock pot, I think it’s a 5 gallon one that I got on sale at Macy’s after Christmas last year!!

I eat butter on and with everything. On my eggs in the morning, put it in my burgers, and make all kinds of goodies with it. Check out my coconut oil post there are lots of ideas in there too. But as for animal fat, I cook with lard almost always, and have been consuming lots of beef fat in my soups. I also love to put butter in my stews as well.

Also Smooth Move Tea by Traditional Medicinals is great to help you out while you are building up your fat tolerance ;) (I prefer the chocolate version and yes I load it up with coconut oil too!!!)

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josh November 27, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Great post, once you have homemade stock you’ll never go back to store bought.

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Meagan November 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I just made some turkey stock. I’ll be saving this to make beef stock soon.

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Jenny December 18, 2010 at 7:35 am

Thanks for piecing this together – this is a great article for those of us with our heads buried in the keyboard all day.

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Amy December 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Just wondering if you refreeze the bones in-between batches. I just got a side of beef and some soup bones, but it isn’t much and want to make them last as long as possible.

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lydia December 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Yes, I do refreeze them between batches Amy! I always add some new bones though, to each batch and usually I try to add meaty bones to the mix to impart good flavor!

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Allison Bruner March 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Awesome article! I just made some beef broth, letting it simmer for 72 hours. SO worth it. SO delicious. And I was like, can I reuse these bones? These bones are awesome! I can’t just throw them away! Your article answered my question to my satisfaction ha ha. I love this website.

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Allison Bruner March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

OH Lydia! I just remembered, I wanted to tell you! I read a recent article b the Weston A. Price Foundation and this guy takes a sledge hammer to his bones! He says it makes the broth more gelatinous. I’m going to do that with my “recycled” bones actually, because they should be a little bit softer now, right? Besides, sometimes you just need an excuse you use your sledgehammer! Ha ha

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lydia March 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Alison, I have done that before, but often forget to. It’s a good plan when you are using your bones again and again like I do. Happy bone smashing!

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Allison Bruner March 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

It will be more like, oh my gosh… Why aren’t these bones smashing? They are too hard! LOL But thanks:)

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lydia December 1, 2013 at 9:48 am

You need to cook them several times before they start to crumble and break down Allison!

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Denise Mauzy December 1, 2013 at 6:39 am

I have 2 questions. First, how much broth does the recipe make, and how do I store my broth? Do I just refrigerate it in mason jars, or freeze it? I am new to this, but would like to give it a try. Thanks!

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lydia December 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

Denise,

This recipe can make a LOT of stock, especially if you reuse the bones. It can make however much water you use to fill the pot. I just did another large batch and got 9-10 quarts from the first round and probably will get another 6-7 quarts or so from the second round. As far as storage goes, I usually freeze it and keep a couple in the fridge for us to use right away. I don’t freeze in mason jars because I’ve broken too many that way.

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Becky February 28, 2014 at 9:49 am

Hi. I love your detailed explanation and hearing about your journey with discovering beef stock and healthy animal fats. I had a question about straining. Why strain the stock? Isn’t all the ‘stuff’ in it still good? Also, how do you consume all that stock? Do you make a lot of soups, or do you just drink it?
Many thanks!

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lydia February 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I strain it because I don’t want pieces of bone matter and gelatinous fat blobs and soggy veggies :) You can save the veggies if you like and definitely reuse the bones.

I use stock in soups, stews, to cook rice, steam veggies and to just drink if I want too. I could go through 1 quart a day for just me!

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Becky February 28, 2014 at 9:55 am

Sorry, I thought of another question. What is the scum and why is it important to remove it?
I made some stock in my crockpot before reading your blog and I just put everything into the jars – bits of meat, marrow, the works. I didn’t notice anything I would describe as ‘scum’ so I’m wondering what will happen if I use this for my soup. I was also wondering about just processing it all up in a blender so that all the bits are not obvious. Any thoughts? Thanks again!

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lydia February 28, 2014 at 4:17 pm

The scum is just residue from the bones and it’s offputting in taste -I don’t always get scum in my batches. Usually it’s from fresh raw bones and not already cooked bones.

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