Homemade beef broth is far superior in flavor and nutrients to most commercially made broth, and it’s easy to make and stock your freezer. A friend of mine was on a pre-surgery liquid diet recently, so I gave her a jar of my homemade beef broth so that she would have something nourishing and filling. She said she doesn’t usually like broth, but that the broth I gave her was truly delicious. After my friend’s surgery, we were at the hospital with her, and she was still able to have only liquids for a time. The nurse came in and offered her her choice of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth. However, the nurse concluded with a caveat, “But trust me, you don’t want the beef. It’s nasty!” And most commercial broths do contain “nasty” ingredients we don’t want in our bodies: MSG, caramel color, sugars, flavorings, and other ingredients that can’t be pronounced. Properly made broth is abundantly rich in magnesium, calcium, trace minerals, and is rich in gelatin. Read more about the health benefits of broth here.
For the bones, you want to use grass-fed beef bones. CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) animals, or non pasture-raised cattle, are routinely given antibiotics, hormones, and other drugs such as ractopamine. Ractopamine has been banned in food production in 160 countries worldwide, yet is still used in America. Since you are extracting the minerals and gelatin from the bones, you want to start with a healthy animal! If you use CAFO meat and bones, you may end up with toxins you don’t want and less gelatin in your broth. If you’re going to the trouble of making it, you want the most nutritious, best-tasting broth possible!
With a little planning ahead, you can keep everything you need on hand for making broth. Some tips are to save all your mushroom stems when you’re cooking mushrooms. When I’m preparing mushrooms to cook, I de-stem them first and place the stems in a bag labled, “mushrooms for stock, wash first” and place the bag in the freezer. I don’t wash the stems ahead of time as it makes them turn into a lump of freezer burn. I just keep adding to the bag, and by the time I’m ready to make stock, I have plenty. I also like to keep a freezer bag full of vegetable scraps. If you buy fresh carrots with the leafy green tops, save the tops and place those in your veggie scrap freezer bag as well. Celery leaves can be saved and used as a tasty addition, too. Save any bones from cooking roasts or ribs. I usually get bone-in chuck roasts, and I’ll save the bone, which usually still has some meaty scraps on it, and put it in the freezer.
Now, when you’re done making your stock, you can make your pups crazy happy. Give them the bones to chew on. I read in a holistic dog care book that real marrow bones are one of the best things you can give your dog to help keep their teeth clean. On a recent trip to the vet, the doctor asked if my dog had just had a dental cleaning. I replied, “No,” and she said, “Well her teeth look like it.” Now keep in mind this is a 14 year old dog. I attributed her pearly whites to all the beef bones and ham hocks she gets to chew on.
When transferring your broth to jars, be sure to leave enough head room for expansion when it freezes (about an inch). For storing your broth, wait until it cools in the jars and transfer them to your refrigerator overnight. Transfer to the freezer the next day, and don’t tighten the lids too tightly. I’ve found this keeps the jars from cracking. If freezing in silicone cubes, go ahead and transfer directly to the freezer. After the cubes are frozen, remove cubes and store in zipper lock bags. If you let the silicone cubes sit on the counter a few minutes, the frozen cubes are MUCH easier to remove.
- 6-8 lbs. grass-fed beef bones and trimmings (use a variety if you have them – marrow bones, ribs, chuck roast bones, shanks)
- 1 onion, quartered
- 4 carrots, quartered
- 4 celery stalks, quartered
- mushroom stems *see note
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sheet kombu
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 6 quarts water
- Preheat oven to 400. Place bones on sheet pan and roast for 45 minutes until well-browned. Remove bones from the sheet pan and place in a large stock pot, being sure to scrape any browned bits from the roasting pan into the pot as well. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, skimming off any foam that may rise to the top. Leave the lid vented and simmer for 6-8 hours. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Place a strainer over a large bowl and ladle broth into strainer. Discard vegetables (or give them to your dog) : ) Ladle strained broth into a 1 quart measuring cup and pour into jars or silicone cubes. Ladling the broth into a measuring cup makes it easier to pour. You can strain directly into the measuring cup, but I find with the quantity of broth you’re dealing with here that the measuring cup gets full too quickly, so I prefer to strain into a large bowl first.