How to Make Homemade Beef Stock

How to make homemade beef stock.

I'm sure you're familiar with beef bouillon cubes and canned beef broth. The first tastes very salty, and the second can taste pretty weak and watery.

It's very simple and easy to make beef stock or broth at home instead and it tastes so much better than broth from the grocery store, no matter what form you're used to buying.

Why on earth would you want to make your own beef stock when you can buy alternatives at the grocery store? Well, for those first two reasons, for sure: to reduce sodium, and because it's so much richer and more delicious when made from scratch.

It's also less expensive, and it's so healthy for you too.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

The difference between stock and broth

Although many people use the terms interchangeably, stock and broth are two different things. They are made almost the same way and have almost the same ingredients, but stock is made from mostly bones while broth is made mostly from meat.

Both are often made with vegetables and herbs in the pot as well as the bones or meat. You can use stock and broth interchangeably in recipes too.

Broth can also be made from vegetables alone, without meat. You can use vegetable broth just like you would beef stock or broth.

Stock usually has a richer taste than broth, and is usually wonderfully gelatinous from using the bones. The gelatin content is most obvious when the stock is refrigerated. I've occasionally made a batch of stock that didn't contain a lot of gelatin though, it does happen.

And I've made other batches that contained so much gelatin that the refrigerated stock can be spooned out like, well, it's almost as thick as jelly. Once it's been warmed up and if necessary a little water is added, it'll be a nice thick liquid again.

Homemade beef stock - Learn why it's so healthy, how simple it is to make, how to use it and how to preserve it for later use in this article from Oak Hill Homestead.

Why homemade beef stock is better for you

Besides the fact that homemade beef stock doesn't contain MSG and the high levels of sodium that are present in canned broth, made-from-scratch stock can promote healthy joints and reduces inflammation too.

The gelatin in the beef bones is especially good for us. According to Medical News Today, gelatin can promote healthy body tissues, give skin a healthy and youthful look, aid digestion, strengthen our bones and more.

It's well-known that gelatin will also improve our hair and strengthen fingernails.

Studies show that gelatin might even improve the quality of our sleep, improve gut health, reduce liver damage, ease joint pain, and perhaps even slow the growth of cancer.

You'll find a natural source of gelatin in marrow bones such as oxtail and knucklebones, the best bones to use when making beef stock from scratch.

And what better way to include gelatin in our diet than to consume it in soups and stock that are super-easy and inexpensive to make at home?

Stock is frugal to make at home

Although they can be harder to find in the stores than they used to be, oxtail bones and knucklebones are quite inexpensive to purchase. Not many people know what to do with them, so they aren't in high demand and larger stores may not offer them.

Find a grocery store with a butcher in the meat department - often the small, independent grocers will have one on staff. If you don't find these cuts in the meat counter, ask if they are available.

When we had our steer butchered I asked for the bones so I could make stock with them.

Additional ingredients to include in your homemade beef stock

You'll want to add herbs and vegetables to your stock pot for rich flavor. Carrots, onions, celery and garlic are the most-often-added vegetables, but tomatoes and other veggies are delicious too.

Homemade beef stock with vegetables and herbs.

Add some sprigs of rosemary, thyme, bay leaf or any other herbs and seasonings you wish. If you have these herbs growing in your garden, take several cuttings of each and add to the stock pot.

How to make beef stock from scratch

For a rich, caramelized flavor, roast the beef bones before making the stock. Simply put the bones in a roasting pan in a single layer, drizzle some olive oil on top and stir them around, then roast in a 350° oven for about an hour or until they reach a nice brown color. Don't let them burn, just brown them.

Move the bones to a slow cooker or stockpot. Scrape any bits from the roasting pan, and include any juices that have cooked out too.

Add the vegetables and herbs - roughly chop a few carrots and celery stalks, a large onion and half a dozen or so cloves of garlic. I include the celery leaves and onion skins for added flavor. Add the sprigs of fresh herbs or sprinkle some from your herb jars and tins.

Add pepper and salt to taste - go easy on the salt since the recipes you'll use your stock in will probably contain salt as well. I love pink Himalayan salt or sea salt for this.

If you have some raw apple cider vinegar in your pantry, add a few splashes (a couple of tablespoons) to the pot. This will help pull nutrients, minerals and gelatin from the bones. Don't worry, your stock won't taste like vinegar.

Learn how to make your own vinegar with my free ebook
How to Make Vinegar at Home.

Cover the bones completely with cold water and bring it just to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. If you're using a slow cooker, set it on High until the liquid begins to boil, then turn it to Low. Simmer the stock for 12-24 hours.

Skim off any "scum" that develops on top of the stock.

If your slow cooker is like mine, after 6 or 8 hours it will automatically switch over to Warm. Be sure to keep an eye on it and change it back to Low when needed.

Yes, 12-24 hours is a long time. Although making beef stock takes an entire day, after you roast the bones and toss everything in the stock pot and bring it to a simmer you can pretty much walk away.

Personally I prefer to use a slow cooker, especially if I'll be simmering it overnight. Be sure to check on your stock pot often if you're cooking it on top of the stove and don't leave it to cook all night long while you're asleep!

Straining the stock

You can let the stock cool just a bit before straining, although it isn't necessary. Cooling it makes the stock a little easier to handle while straining. Then I use kitchen tongs to remove the largest of the bones - it helps keep spattering to a minimum when I'm pouring it all into the strainer.

Set a colander or strainer over a bowl, then slowly pour in the remaining contents of your slow cooker or stock pot. Don't let the bowl overflow; keep an eye on the level while you're pouring the stock into the strainer.

Use a fork or a potato masher to mash up the vegetables a bit if you wish for even more flavor.

Using beef stock

Use your homemade beef stock right away as a base for delicious soup or stew. French onion soup is a delicious example.

Homemade beef stock

Or pour it into quart jars and store in your refrigerator for up to three days. Any fat in the stock will rise to the surface and solidify a bit; spoon it off before using the stock if you wish, but this isn't necessary.

To store longer than three days, either freeze your homemade beef stock in recipe-ready quantities such as pints or quarts, or pressure can it to store on your pantry shelves.

(Here's my post on how to pressure can chicken stock; it's the same procedure for beef stock. Process pints of beef stock in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes, and quarts for 25 minutes. Adjust for altitude if you live more than 1,000 feet above sea level.)

You can find your elevation by going to What is My Elevation and typing your home address.

You can make chicken stock in your own kitchen just as easily; in fact, it's even easier because you don't roast the bones first.

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This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

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