Basic Beef Stock Recipe

One easy, healthy change I made for my family was to begin making my own chicken and beef stock for soups and sauces.  Ever since I learned about the benefits of real homemade bone broth from Jenny at The Nourished Kitchen food blog and read about how broth is so beautiful from Sally Fallon at the Weston A. Price Foundation, I can't go back to buying canned broths and stocks.  I believe that taking the time to make stock at home makes my family healthier and makes our food taste better.

Buy grass-fed beef soup bones if possible.  I buy them at Whole Foods or at my local farmers' market.  Grass-fed cows have higher vitamin and mineral content in their meat and bones, and are more healthy animals, so their meat and bones are healthier for you!  If you can't find grass-fed, or don't want to spend the extra money for them, it's ok.  Real bone broth is still good for you even if the cow wasn't grass-fed.

Roast the bones at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes

Roasting the bones browns the marrow and meat and fat that may be attached.  The browning is part of what makes cooked food taste so good. You can skip this step if you are short on time, but the stock won't have as good of flavor.

3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 1 onion, in a 4 quart pot

Adding veggies also helps develop good flavor and adds nutritional value to the stock.  It's not necessary to add veggies, but it is a good idea.  I don't always add the veggies.  For this picture, I broke the (unpeeled) carrots and celery in half with my hands, and I cut the onion into quarters.  These veggies will be removed later, so I keep them large for easy removal.

Add bones to the pot

Fill with cold water, add 2 bay leaves, and 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
Cover, and bring to a boil.
Sally Fallon says that adding cold water to the pot and allowing it to come to a boil slowly is good for the broth, and adding the vinegar helps extract nutrients from the bones.

I turn the heat to about medium-low and let it come to a boil.  Then, I turn the flame down to the lowest setting to maintain a good temperature.  You don't want the stock to actively boil, a small simmer is ok, but if it simmers too much the pot will whistle and the liquid will evaporate too much.

If you see white, foamy "scum" collecting on the surface of the simmering broth, skim it off with a spoon.

Simmer for at least 4 hours, but 12 hours is good.  I usually start mine after dinner, and simmer it overnight.  Sometimes, I let it simmer 24 hours or more, but I usually take the veggies out after 12 hours or less.  If the onions are left in overnight, they will caramelize while floating on the surface.  This can add great flavor.

I pour the stock out through a strainer into quart-sized mason jars, let it cool, and refrigerate, but you can also ladle it straight out of the pot to use in a recipe.  I always pour it through a strainer to keep the broth clear of hunks of bone and veggie scraps.  I also like to refrigerate it before using it so all of the fat rises to the top and can be scooped off while cold.