Here is the big finale for our three-week make your own stock series. We have made our own chicken stock (or maybe you used turkey), veggie stock, and now this week we tackle making beef stock. This one is a few additional steps, but I assure you the rewards are worth it in the end. Let’s top off those freezers with stock for all our culinary feats this winter. Having a quality stock is the foundation of beautiful meals and a lifesaver on busy, lazy days when real food is a must.
There are three challenges to making your own beef stock that we must conquer. If you can figure these three things out, you are golden — the rest is gravy (good gravy if you use your beautiful beef stock).
1. You need to source high quality beef bones. For me that means local, grass-fed cows. These cost more for a reason. And all the reasons that count. Better for your health, for the flavor, for the environment, for the cow’s living conditions, and for your local community. So do some research, go to farmers markets, talk with other foodies, ask questions of the person behind the meat counter at the natural foods co-ops, find a butcher. Do what it takes to buy good bones and feel gratitude that they will nourish you and your family for months.
2. You need to be near your stove-top off and on, but mostly on for one to three days. You are going to be simmering this stock for days. One day is the barest of minimum, three is ideal (I never make it to three, but some day…), two works great. I turn my pot off when I go to bed and turn it back on as soon as I get up. I turn the pot off to run short errands or whatever, but mostly I’m at home going about my business while my pot is working away for two days.
3. You need a big pot. You want to get a lot of stock out of these bones that you worked so hard to find. Plus, the bones themselves take up a lot of room, so a small pot won’t have space for the water.
*** If number 2 and 3 seem impossible, you can make this in small batches in a crock pot. Using less bones, fill up the crock pot with the same stuff, fill with water and leave on low for 24 hours. You’ll have to go through the process again at some point when you run out of stock, but it may beat staying home for a weekend or getting your hands on a huge pot! ***
Why do all this?
Beef stock is a powerfully healing substance. It is filled with minerals and amino acids ready for absorption. It contains ample gelatin, ready to heal your gut and your joints. Bone broth has been shown to aid digestion and build immunity. Many real fooders consume bone broth every day as a tonic. You can read more about all that’s in there from this post from Mark’s Daily Apple.
Beef stock provides a beautiful flavor, richness, and color to soups, stews and sauces.
It is worth it! The stuff in the box/can DOES NOT COMPARE. Homemade quality stock is considered by many to be a SUPERFOOD. Boxed and canned stock, not so much. This is the easiest way to bring nutrients into everything you prepare. So let’s get started.
SIMPLE BEEF STOCK
- Stock Pot – The bigger the better, so you can get more stock out of all the effort. Crock Pots will work, but most won’t hold enough liquid to get the most out of your efforts. Consider investing in a large stock pot or find a foodie friend who might let you borrow one for a weekend. I love my 21 quart pot. Big but manageable.
- Roasting Pan/Tongs
- Cutting board/Chef’s Knife
- Cheese Cloth or Fine Strainer – I use a paint straining bag from the hardware store. I can place it into a pitcher and ladle the stock into it.
- Large Storage Container
- Gallon Sized Ziplock Bags
- Permanent Marker
- 4-8lbs of beef bones (a combination of marrow, knuckle, neck and rib bones is the best option, but work with what you can get!)
- 3 Organic Carrots – Chopped up chunky
- 3 Organic Onions – Peeled and chopped in quarters
- 6 Organic Celery Stalks – Chopped up chunky
- 6 Cloves of Garlic – Cut in half
- 1T Whole Peppercorns
- Sprigs of Fresh Thyme and/or Parsley
- 1/2 Cup Vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
- 2-3 Gallons of Cold Water
- Optional: Any other veggie bits or scraps you may have around. This is a great way to purge those veggie drawers!
- Place any of your bones that have meat bits on them in the roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees for about an hour. Meanwhile, place the bones without meat bits in the pot with the vinegar and pour in the water until the bones are covered. Let the pot just sit on the counter for the hour the other bones are roasting.
- Take the meaty bones out of the roasting pan and place them in the pot. Add vegetables and add the rest of the cold water.
- Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Using a spoon, skim off any impurities or “foam” that has developed on the top and discard.
- Add peppercorns and herbs.
- Simmer that pot for 12-72 hours. You can add more water every once in a while if you feel it is getting too low. (Less water, more concentrated stock)
- I turn the stove off when I go to bed late at night for my own peace of mind (leaving the big pot on the stove top) and then turn it back on early in the morning. I also turn it off when I leave the house during the day for safety.
- Using your strainer and your storage container, ladle the stock into the strainer in batches, resulting in having strained stock in the storage container.
- Place storage container in the refrigerator to cool completely. When cooled, your stock may be thick and gelatinous. That is a GREAT sign! It means you used bones with lots of gelatin and pulled it all out of them. Sometimes mine is gelatinous and sometimes it isn’t.
- The next day: Once your stock is completely cooled, the fat will rise to the top and solidify. If you leave that in your stock, it will be rather greasy. I highly recommend taking it off the stock and rendering it down to clean tallow to use as a fantastic cooking fat! [Place fat in crock pot on low until it is all liquid, then strain through cheesecloth into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator. Amazing for frying up tortillas for Taco Tuesdays!]
- Using a permanent marker, label your Ziplock bags: BEEF STOCK and the date and how much you are measuring into each bag.
- I recommend measuring out 1 to 1.5 quarts of beef stock per gallon Ziplock.
- Be sure to check those Ziplock tops for a good seal before placing the bags flat on top of each other to store in the freezer.
- The stock will keep in the freezer for several months.
- This recipe is adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is one of my favorite resources for my real food journey.
- There is no salt added to this stock, so you must add it on your own when using the stock. Most recipes will assume your stock is very salty (because the box/can has a lot of extra sodium in it), so be sure to taste and adjust and probably add more salt to your dishes than you are used to if you haven’t made your own before.
- If you don’t have much freezer space for your stock, I recommend simmering your stock on the longer side of the range and not adding additional water as it evaporates. You are basically making it more concentrated and then can add water to it once you defrost it prior to using. You might want to freeze it in smaller amounts since you won’t need as much. You can also simmer some of it down further after straining to concentrate some of it for sauces. Just be sure to label everything so you know what you have later!
- I know of many people who, in an effort to get the most out of their beef bones, make stock a second time using the same bones. If you have the time, energy and freezer space you should go for it!
So that’s a wrap with the Stock Series! Hope you use these recipes in your kitchen to warm and nourish your family this winter season. This, my friends, is the true foundation of real food. May you build real (good) food from here…
This post is linked to Party Wave Wednesday at HolisticSquid.com!