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Making Beef Stock (bone broth)

Isn't it funny how the littlest things can make you me so excited!?  The other day, while at market, I pushed my cart by the meat counter and coolers and one small section of the cooler caught my eye...I saw a locally raised sticker on a little section of beef.  It also had the 4-H logo on it...and well, the local 4-H fair in our county recently ended, so I don't know if the market was a winning bidder on some beef cows or if it was donated, but either way...those of us who were fortunate enough to be at market that day were definite winners!  There were short-ribs, a few cuts of steak...and then there were the cuts that were more in my price range- the beef bones for soup.  I picked up a couple of with smaller cuts that exposed a bit more marrow, fat, & bits of meat, and some of the larger, knuckle portions.  I was pretty pleased with myself for picking the right day & time to go to market...with visions of stockpots dancing in my head

Making homemade stock or bone broth is something that is not only's also logical!  You may even do it already without even realizing it!  Do you save that turkey carcass after your Thanksgiving meal and throw it in a stockpot along with some veggies to make a hearty broth the day following the feast and thanks?  Do you throw some pigs feet or ham hocks into your soup pot while simmering beans?  Do you Use those chicken and turkey necks to make a flavorful gravy for your holiday meals?  Well...then you're already nourishing yourself and using the age-old technique of making bone broth...or stock from bones and utilizing every part of the animal that gives us our food. 

"Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain."*  Plus, the gelatin that is released from cooking the bones for long periods of time facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.  Plus, it tastes good and cures all that ails ya...just think homemade chicken noodle soup!

Normally, you would roast the bones in the oven before hand when making beef stock, but it was particularly steamy in my kitchen on this summer day, and I decided I couldn't bear to add the the pool of sweat that was already soaking the waistband of my pants.  Stock is a very forgiving, loving vessel...I never weigh out my bones or measure my water or calculate the amount of veg and herb I'm adding...I just sort of go by what I have and what feels right.  So, I'm giving you the way I do it. If you're looking for a more precise starting point, check out my sources at the bottom of the page and click through to the WAPF article for a precise recipe. Oh, and something I do that could be helpful to you...whenever I'm trimming carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic, parsley, etc...I make sure I've washed them very well first, then I add all the trimmings, ends, stems, etc. to a gallon-sized freezer bag.  I label it 'stock' and stick it in the freezer and keep adding to it until the next time I'm ready to make stock.  I simply pull the bag from the freezer and dump it in when it's time for me to add the veggies and  herbs to my stock.  If I think it's not enough, I'll simply chop up a few more onion, carrots, celery, whatever to add to the pot.  Some people look down their nose at adding carrot peel or onion peel to the stock...pish-posh.  There are plenty of nutrients in those peels!  As long as they're clean, I see no reason not to.  Afterall, I'll eat the whole carrot, but I peel them for presentation purposes when I'm not just eating them out of hand.  Admittedly, I don't eat the onion peel, but I've always added it to the adds color, as well.  In restaurant kitchens, I always added an onion brule (blackened the cut halves on a flat top) to add color, but I don't usually do that at home...unless I really want to make a deep, colorful stock for something in particular (in which case, I'd go ahead and roast the bones, too).  It also adds a deeper color to vegetable and chicken stocks...but I wouldn't recommend it in a delicate fish stock.

Beef Stock
(bone broth)

Various Beef bones
cold, filtered water
mushroom stems (optional)
Garlic cloves, smashed
Parsley stems
thyme sprigs
bay leaves
Black Peppercorns
whole cloves

Place beef bones (raw or roasted) in bottom of a large, deep soup/stock pot.  Cover with the water by ~4".  Slowly heat to a boil over medium heat.  Once it comes to a boil, quickly reduce heat to a very low simmer.  You will see scum rising to the surface...skim that off.  It is all the impurities rising from the bones.  Continue to cook over a very lazy bubble (you should just see the bubbles popping up around the edges) for an hour or two, skimming scum as needed.  At this point, most of the scum should be gone.  Add in your veggies, herbs and peppercorns & cloves.  Allow it to return to a slow bubble and continue to cook (steam, almost), partially covered for another 4 hours...or even up to 12!  Keeping the stock from boiling is what will keep it clear and clean...the boiling stirs up all the ick and makes it cloudy.  Okay, remove from heat and ladle the liquid into a large container through a strainer (which I line with a damp coffee filter).  Cool quickly in this container or transfer to smaller jars for storing, if you wish.  Once your stock has gotten cold in fridge/cooler, you will be able to peel off the small layer of fat that forms on top, if  you wish.  Leave a generous inch of headroom in the container if you plan on freezing the stock.

I ended up with just over a gallon of stock this time.  Just over half went into the freezer and the rest I kept in the fridge for using over the next couple of days.  Once it cools, you will be able to see how it turns a bit gelatinous...remember, that's a good thing!  And if by chance it doesn't turn very gelatinous, no worries.  It'll still nourish your body...and  your soul.

~traditions passed down by my grandmas
~my culinary school instruction
~*Sally Fallon Morrell via the WAPF website...which is beyond helpful in your sourch for nourishment in all forms!

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"Good broth will resurrect the dead."  ~South American proverb