Homemade Beef Bone Broth/Stock

Dec 7, 2010 by

I’ve read a few snide comments here and there when people put up recipes that require stock. Like “1 c. beef stock. I use canned since I am not Martha Stewart and don’t have fresh grass-fed beef stock in my freezer” or “I’m not fancy enough to make my own stock.”

And it makes me INSANE. I think people have this notion that making your own stock is some elite culinary skill. Reality? You boil bones and leftover crappy parts of vegetables. The end.

It’s SO easy and for the hell of it, I’m going to do a comparison for you real quick.

Swanson Organic Beef Broth in my local Target is $4.29 for 32 ounces. They also have a Pacific Foods Organic Beef Broth for a  bit cheaper and while it is very delicious, it does have added ingredients in it. From the package:

Organic beef stock (water, organic beef), Organic beef flavor base (organic roasted beef including beef juices, organic cane juice, organic beef flavor, organic onion powder, sea salt, organic canola oil, caramel color, organic garlic powder, organic black pepper, organic paprika, flavor), Sea salt, Autolyzed yeast extract, Organic garlic powder.

Though none of these ingredients aren’t technically bad, they’re not necessary when building your own soup or stew, which is what you would be using stock for most of the time. Also, for people with extreme diet sensitivities, caramel color and yeast can cause issues. Overall, I’d like my “base” to be as base as possible.

The Swanson is made with “cattle-raised” cows with no added hormones or antibiotics and has no fillers or MSG in the broth. So I chose this one when I need to have beef broth and don’t  have any on hand, which happens very rarely. But neither brand mentioned whether the cows were grass-fed, grain-fed, grass-finished, etc. Just “cattle raised” which even though they may not have had antibiotics or hormones pumped in their bodies, they were still likely fed a grain-based diet. Cows are meant to pasture and eat grass and when I have the choice, I choose the animal that has been fed the correct food and lived the best life.

I am lucky in Iowa that we have a fairly active local farming community as well as a large farmers market (which goes indoor in the winter) and I have access to grass-fed meat. My Crossfit box also has a local organic pastured farmer visit the gym every couple of months and he sells his beef, poultry and pork and I can spend $200 and be set on organic pastured/grass-fed meat for 2-3 months.

Last time the farmer was out of soup bones, so I picked some up at the market this Saturday. It was $9.70 for two huge soup bones ($4.00/lb).

The two bones from the farmers market: I also had a couple of loose meat bones from a steak Mike had stored in the freezer that I roasted and threw in the pot. So, in total I had around 5-6 lbs of bones.

And because I know my penchant for making stock like it’s going out of style, I keep what I call a “stock bag” in the freezer. It’s a large sealed bag (or two or three) where I shove all of the “garbage” bits from my vegetables as I use them: the cores of onions, leafy parts and ends/hearts of celery, hearts and tops of leeks, ends and tops of parsnips, carrots, turnips, leftover herbs from when I have too much for a recipe. So this way, when I’m ready to make stock, I already the “stock stuff” on hand and don’t need to go out and buy or chop anything and just toss the “stock bag” in the pot. I always add 1-2 medium fresh onions though.

My freezer "stock bag" of "garbage veggies"

Ok, so even though I used “garbage vegetables” let’s do a price comparison assuming you had to go out and buy new ones. The cost is based on the fractions of the originals you would use. So around $.65 for new celery hearts and leaves, around $0.75 for 2 new onions, $.50 for fresh parsley, $.50 cents for 5 large carrots, $.12 for two bay leafs, $.30 for 5 large garlic cloves. This recipe makes 5-6 liters of stock, or around 170-200 ounces for $12.56 or $0.06 an ounce. The store bought organic is $0.13, nearly double. It would cost you around $25-$30 to buy the same amount of stock in the store.

So for half the price, you get an incredibly nutritious, nourishing, organic (assuming you add all organic produce), grass-fed beef stock. Plus, the fat that you’ll remove from the top can be used in myriad ways. You can use it to fry foods, or my mother loves mixing it with birdseed,  making her own suet, and freezing to hang for the birds in the winter.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to make your own beef stock by now so start your own “stock bag” in your freezer so you’ll have everything on hand after your next trip to the market. Here’s how you do it. First, there’s a few key things I find is integral to making a great stock. 1) Roasting the bones and 2) vinegar which helps break down the bones to better extract the nutrients.

Fill till about 1-2 inches from the top

First run-through: strain the big bits first!

You can leave a little fat floaters - don't kill yourself trying to get every bit!

The fat scooped from the top - saved for pan frying or bird food!

Cheesecloth inside the strainer

I like to split mine up in various size jars. The big one I'll freeze and the smaller pickle jar I keep in the fridge and use for anything from cooking some veggies for a quick lunch or using instead of water in almost any recipe.

See how easy it is?!

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  1. Huh. I admit…I was one of those “Make my own stock?! WHAT?!” Reading/seeing this, I can do it.

    Now if I could just learn what to do WITH it, I’d be all set.

  2. So, do you just throw away the meat and veggies you cooked to make your broth?

    • AndreAnna

      Kathy – yes, the veggies have served their life purpose and are pretty much boiled to death. As far as the meat/bones go, I usually give the pieces of meat I can find to the dog but toss the bones – all the marrow and nutrients have already been extracted and broken down.

      (FYI: Dogs should never be given cooked bones (only raw) as they can splinter and cause teeth, mouth, and intestinal damage)

    • Put the leftover veggies in your compost bin!

      • AndreAnna

        Good suggestion!I live in an apartment so it won’t work for me but for those who have one or want to start one, it’s a good option!

      • sal!

        you can NOT put the veggies into your compost after they have been used to make stock!

      • AndreAnna

        Good to know Sal! Like I said, since I don’t compost, I really know nothing about it. Thanks for your help!

      • Ok, I went and did a little research (what I used to do for a living). Its a pet peeve of mine when someone says to do or not do something without saying why.

        It is perfectly safe to compost veggies after making stock with them. However, if you just have an exposed compost pile or heap, you will not want to put anything in the compost pile that was mixed with animal fats as it will attract vermin.

        If you have a fully enclosed compost bin, which I do, not only is it more effective at making compost faster, but you can put a lot more stuff in it.

        In our household, I’m on a mission to eliminate as much trash as I possibly can. We only use (1) 13-gallon bag for the two of us per week. The rest gets recycled or composted.

        Thanks for the stock bag tip!

        Sal-not an attack, I’m just trying to inform people; its my life mission ;-)

      • hi stephen,
        this is probably where we will have to agree to disagree.
        i could put them in, but living where there is a lot of wildlife i don’t do it.

        appreciate your commitment to not generating much waste. i have a larger family and we don’t generate much either.

        have a great day living paleo!

  3. Good To know about the bones! Thanks.

  4. Jan

    AWESOME tutorial on making beef stock! I love making my own stocks – I now officially have enough beef, chicken and turkey stock in the freezer in the garage to bathe in.

  5. Kat

    Love this! Once people make it once I think they realize just how easy it is. Also it adds so much more flavor to soups, stews and roasts than any commercial packaged stock.

  6. I make chicken stock all the time and I’m kind of unreasonably proud of myself when I do. It’s delicious – so much better than store bought (and yes, a FRACTION of the cost). I too save garbage veggies and add them to the “chicken graveyard” (as my boyfriend calls my big tupperware of carcasses). I do mine in a slow cooker and it makes the house smell amazing too.

    I’ve never tried making beef stock but I think you may just have inspired me to do so – I know I’ll never buy chicken stock again after making my own.

    Also, I love all your recipes – I’ve tried a few now (thank you!)

    • Erin

      I get unreasonably proud too when I make stock…so much so I usually announce it and provide updates on facebook.

      I think roasted turkey stock is probably my fav. Great flavor for most soups.

      The nutrients that a bone stock provides are numerous, if you can include it at least weekly in your meals you are doing a great service to your health.

    • This pretty much is the comment I would have left. We don’t use beef stock for much, so I’ve never made it. We do however use chicken stock often, so any roast chicken carcasses (or as in the case of the last batch, roast turkey carcass) are saved and when I have enough, it all gets chucked in the pot and I make stock. Not hard and definitely frugal.

  7. Great reminder! I just finished boiling the turkey carcass from the turkey I cooked this weekend and got about 11 cups of stock. And I usually keep a bag in my freezer with the scraps or veggies on the verge of bad that I might throw out – I make veggie stock if I don’t have any meat bones around. So much better! Also, when I make homemade salsa, the second day it has so much liquid in it that I strain off about 1/2 of the liquid and save it to throw in soup or to cook rice in. Adds great flavor.

    • JAV

      Michelle, I’ve never made stock before but I think I have the courage now. How much liquid do you put in your veggie stock? Same as recommended here for beef?

      AndreAnna- You’ve heard this a million times but I LOVE your website and the encouragement and renewed interest it sparked in me to follow a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for not giving difficult, “snooty” recipes because your creations are great for daily use.

      • AndreAnna

        Thank you so much for the compliment JAV. You CAN DO THIS!

        Once you do it once, you’ll see how easy and nutritious it is!

  8. Lynn

    Again – you’re the best! I’m also a little snooty about my chicken and turkey stock :) but haven’t tried beef. I really don’t know why – kinda silly when I think about it now. I use my crockpot and set it to low. Usually, I precook my turkey the afternoon before the holiday, hack away at it (otherwise known as ‘carving’ but not in my sad little world), and break the carcass in half. First half cooks overnight and the second half crocks during the day so that the house always smells like the turkey is still in the oven. And, use some of the first batch of stock when re-heating the turkey to keep it moist. ASESOMENESS. So easy to clean a crockpot, too.

  9. I was going to be a jerk and leave a comment about how there are no “garbage” vegetables when you only buy frozen bagged stuff, but I don’t want to give you a heart attack. Heh.

  10. Dana

    Great post! I have bones in my freezer, and I am going to try this. A question, what size stock pot do you use? Is there a specific amount of water needed per pound of bones?

    • AndreAnna

      Dana – this was a 5 gallon stock pot, rather large! So I would estimate the water-to-bone ratio to be about 3 qts for 1 large bone,

  11. btw, autolyzed yeast extract IS msg! the swanson broth is probably better so long as it doesn’t have hidden msg like the pacific brand.
    i make 20 quarts of chicken broth a week, it’s SO good for us!
    for added flavor i often roast the veggies and bones first, talk about depth of flavor! wow!!

    • Lynn

      What a neat idea! hate to sound dumb, but how do you roast the bones? Thanks!

      • AndreAnna

        No question is ever dumb, Lynn!! Simply put the bones in a roasting pan or glass pyrex dish as shown above and stick in the oven on 400 degrees for around 45 minutes!

    • AndreAnna

      Wow, Sal! Awesome tip, thank you so much!

  12. Karen

    Perfect timing! I just bought some grass-fed soup bones right before you posted this. I love the tip about the stock bag, keep em coming!

  13. This looks delish, and I’m having a serious hankering for some beef and vegetable soup!

  14. I posted a squash soup recipe a while back where I joked about not having homemade stock. Never would have guessed it had the potential to make someone INSANE due to my RAMPANT SNIDENESS. : )

    You’ll be happy to know there’s a bunch of chicken stock in my freezer now, however. PLEASE FORGIVE ME, O ANGRY STOCK LADY.

  15. Great post. Just found it while googling ‘is there a lot of fat in bone broth’.

    And that’s great a farmer visits your Crossfit gym to sell his wares. Everybody wins! I’m lucky my dad raises organic beef on his little farm and there’s always a freezer full of it to raid.

    I can eat a whole giant bowl of pho, but a cup or two of home made bone broth and I’m totally full. I love how nutrient dense home made bone broth is.

    One of my main complaints about store bought broth like Swanson’s is that, if it doesn’t congeal (in the fridge or if it’s cold in the house) then it’s not nutritionally dense.

    From a health standpoint, the point of making bone broth is that it’s nutrient DENSE. Everything that makes bone and joint leaches out, and then you get to eat it.

    If it doesn’t congeal, it’s not full of tendon-healthy building blocks.

    Also, I just heard that old timers added vinegar to their bone broth, and that that helps get more calcium out of the bone. I don’t do that with my broth, personally.

  16. Angel

    You are the Best!!!! Thankyou


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