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Meat broth, or stock, is a basic staple of any good kitchen. (See here for an explanation of the difference between broth and stock – basically broth is seasoned, stock is not). It can be used as a base or flavor component for a wide variety of dishes. Unfortunately, many home chefs use store bought broth or stock that is little more than water, flavoring and salt. The real stuff is made from bones simmered for a long time until all the excellent nutrients and flavors are brought out into the liquid. Homemade broth is highly nutritious, boosts immune system function, and can help relieve symptoms of a long list of common ailments. Real broth is one of the main components of the GAPS diet because of it’s gut healing properties. But is the homemade goodness of real broth easy to achieve? Is it worth it to make at home?
- Better for you – as stated above, homemade broth made with only wholesome ingredients is super healthy and full of healing properties
- Better for the earth – homemade broth leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than factory produced
- Saves Money – making homemade broth is cheap, and the quality you get vs the salty, watery supermarket stuff can’t be beat
- Easy – making homemade broth takes a long time, but is super easy to do
- Freezeable – make a big batch now and freeze in small portions for use in any recipe
- Takes a long time – bones should be simmered for at least a good 24 hours to extract the maximum nutrients
- Straining the broth can be a pain if you don’t have the right tools.
As I’ve been growing along on my green journey, I’ve learned how nutritious and healthy real, homemade broth is, and how ridiculously fake the store bought stuff is. When beef stew landed on my weekly menu, I knew I wanted to make real beef stock to use in the recipe.
Making beef stock is pretty straightforward. I used a simple recipe as a guide, but basically all you have to do is roast some beef bones in the oven (see above) and then simmer them for a looooooong time until all the marrow and meat scraps are falling off the bone. You can add some veggies and spices for added flavor to make a broth if you’d like.
I picked up some beef soup bones from my local butcher for about $2 a pound. I roasted them in the oven for about 45 minutes until they were browning and the juices were just starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. Then I placed the bones and meat scraps in a slow cooker, covered them with water, and set it to low. I let the bones simmer away for a day and a night, and most of the next day. I skimmed fat off the top occasionally and added water to keep the bones covered as necessary.
After about 30 hours of simmering, the bones were completely void of marrow or anything else, and starting to look like “dead” bones, if you know what I mean. I slowly strained the broth through coffee filters and into mason jars which held about 2 cups each: the perfect amount for most recipes. (Note: most stock recipes will tell you to strain through cheesecloth, which would have been much easier and faster than coffee filters, but I was working with what I had). I placed the jars in the freezer for later use.
When I was ready to make the stew, I pulled a jar from the freezer and let it sit in a pot of hot water while I prepped the rest of the ingredients. By the time I was ready to measure the stock, it was melted and ready to go. The beef stew simmered in the slow cooker all day (love my slow cooker!), and we enjoyed it very much with some quick and easy yeast rolls on the side.
Overall, making homemade beef stock was easy, especially with the slow cooker. The stock yield was good, and the flavor was excellent. It was much better than any store bought stock I’ve tried, and way more nutritious as well. I can’t wait to try out some chicken stock next!
Have you ever made homemade stock or broth? What’s your favorite method?