Numerous health magazines and nutritional gurus have said for years that adding beef bone broth to your diet is an excellent way to get important vitamins and nutrients while encouraging natural and healthy weight loss. Beef bone broth is also delicious and is an easy to make ingredient that will take soups and stews from blasé to bon appetit.
We're going to give you the facts about beef bone broth to help dispel some of the misunderstandings and then we'll let you know how you can make beef bone broth in your home kitchen and store it to use whenever you want. We'll even give you some great ways to use bone broth to make delicious meals.
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is nothing more than the rendered product of beef bones that have simmered for an extremely long time. The long cooking time is essential because you want the meat and bones to break down as much as possible, releasing all the nutrients into the liquid. Bone broth is thicker than stock because of the collagen that breaks down during the cooking process. Bone broth can be used to make soups and stews, gravies, and other savory dishes. It's also a popular health supplement.
How is Bone Broth Different From Regular Broth or Stock?
Here is one of the first and most common misconceptions about beef bone broth. It isn't broth. That's right, we've all been calling it bone broth for all these years but it is actually a stock, not a broth. Before we get into too much information, lets just get this misnomer out of the way.
Stock is characterized by a long cooking process that renders nutrients. Broth, on the other hand, is made in a relatively quick cooking process that focuses on flavor over nutritional value. Broth tends to be made with meaty bones or even just meat while stock needs marrow bones and connective tissues for texture and nutrition along with enough meat to actually add flavor.
Why is it Called Beef Broth if it's Stock?
There isn't a great answer to this question. A few decades ago, everyone called beef bone broth "stock." It seems like overnight, the name was changed and it became broth. No one is really sure how or why this happened, but health nuts and paleo diets get the brunt of the blame, deserved or not. It could be that "bone broth" just sounds more appetizing to people than "bone stock".
Choosing the Right Types of Bones
The key to making an excellent tasting and nutritious bone broth is selecting the appropriate bones. This is a great opportunity to get to know your local butcher if you haven't already. You want to find bones that have lots of connective tissue like knuckles, neck bones, and tail bones. You'll also want some marrow bones, like shank bones. Your stock will be best if you use bones that have some meat on them. Bare bones will work, but you won't get the flavor you want.
Using Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised, Hormone-Free Beef
Just like in any other recipe, the higher the quality of ingredients you start with, the better quality results you'll get. Try to source bones from grass-fed beef. These animals are raised eating grains growing in pastures and are less likely to contain abnormal levels of heavy metals and chemicals than beef finished on corn or wheat. GMO-free beef means they weren't fed corn.
Using Pre-Cooked Bones
Most of the time, you shouldn't have trouble locating good bones for making broth. One thing that we often do in our kitchen is save bones from ribs and steaks. Rib bones in particular have quite a bit of connective tissue and there are always bits of meat that are too troublesome to worry about in the midst of a feast.
Keep in mind that your bone broth will pick up flavors from how the bones were cooked. Smoked ribs, for example, will lend a smokiness to your broth that can either be delicious or off-putting depending on your preferences. We tend to save smoked bones for a specific stock rather than mix them in with bones from roasts.
Tips for Saving Bones
We do this with any meaty meal we make – save the bones. When we have friends over for ribs or chicken, we set out a bowl just for bones. That way, when someone is done, they can just toss the bone in the bowl. Keeping all the bones in one place makes it easier to get them ready to store.
All you need to do to store your bones is rinse them off and put them in an airtight container. You can use zip lock bags, Tupperware, or even wrap them well in plastic wrap. The bones will keep in the freezer for about three months.
Be sure to write on the container the date the bones were cooked and any other important details. It's surprising how easy it is to confuse beef bones with venison bones. It's also a good idea to write down how the bones were cooked. This way you don't end up with surprise flavors that aren't what you were looking for.
When you are ready to use the bones, set them in the fridge. They don't have to thaw all the way to use, but letting them warm up a little will speed up the first steps in the process.
Nutritional Value of Bone Broth
Every batch of bone broth is unique so it's not really possible to discuss the exact contents of nutritional value you'll get. Our friends at WebMD provide some basics – one cup provides 5 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat. We know that beef bone broth is low in calories and unhealthy fat. It is high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and provides an excellent source of amino acids, trace minerals, and nutrients like iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Bone broth is commonly part of weight loss or weight management plans because it helps you feel full. It can also promote better sleep and helps with hydration. Beef bone broth is also excellent as an after-workout supplement to replace lost electrolytes, particularly when you add some vegetables to your mixture.
The manner in which you make your broth can also impact the health benefits. We'll get into this a little more latter on, but for now, it's important to point out that making broth on the stove top will result in a potentially higher polyunsaturated fat content than using a slow cooker or a pressure cooker.
Bone Broth Recipe
This is a simple recipe that doesn't require any special tools or skills. The few things you need are a large, heavy stockpot, a fine mesh strainer, and a spoon. You'll make this recipe on the stove top.
- 2-4 pounds beef bones, a mixture of knuckles, neck bones, tail bones, and marrow bones works best
- 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 white onions, quartered
- 2 bay leaves, whole
- 2-3 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
- Filtered water
- Optional- 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into two-inch sections
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse beef bones in clear water to remove blood and other "bits" of stuff. You don't need to scrub or dry them. If you are worried about contaminants, you can blanch the bones by bringing them to a rapid boil for about 15 minutes.
- Place the bones in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Roast the bones for at least 20 minutes. You want a deep golden brown color. Roasting the bones improves the flavor of you broth and ensures there are no bacteria living on them. Deglaze the browned bits on the tray with a little water and scrape it into the stock pot.
- Put the bones in a large stock pot and completely cover with filtered water. Put the stock pot on a burner and bring to a boil. This will take time, so be patient. You don't need to boil the bones for any length of time. Reduce the heat until you have a soft simmer.
- After about one hour of simmering you can use a spoon to remove the fat that has accumulated on the surface. Just skim it off and throw in the trash. Don't put animal fat down the sink drain or you'll be calling a plumber.
- Add the vegetables and apple cider vinegar at this time.
- Continue to simmer the bones for at least 12 hours. Longer is better in this case, and it isn't uncommon for a bone broth to simmer for up to 48 hours. Add filtered water as necessary to keep the bones covered in the stockpot.
- The broth is done when it has a deep, mahogany color and tastes intensely savory.
- Carefully pour the broth through the strainer and discard the solids. If you made bone broth that cooked overnight, you may see that the bones are disintegrating. This is normal and totally fine.
- Rapidly cool the beef bone broth. The best way to do this is to place it in a large bowl and set the bowl in an ice bath. Stir the broth gently until the temperature has dropped enough to safely handle.
- Pour the cooled broth into jars or containers for storage. Be sure to label your jars with the type of broth and the date you made it.
Beef bone broth will keep for about five days in the refrigerator and about three months in the freezer. Make sure to leave some room in your jar for expansion or you will risk breaking a jar.
One of our favorite tricks when making bone broth is to put it in ice cube trays and freeze it. Once frozen, the cubes can go in a bag and be kept in the freezer. When you want to use them, you can take what you need without having to defrost the entire jar.
Alternative Ways to Make Bone Broth
If you are concerned about leaving your stove top burner on for more than a day, you can use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker to make bone broth. When bone broth is made in a pressure cooker, you'll have a finished product in about 50 minutes. This is the best way to get a nearly instant pot of broth when you are short on time.
How to Use Bone Broth
Beef bone broth is the backbone of most great soups and stews. You use about one cup per recipe. Try making a classic French Onion Soup with your beef broth. Mix it up and make a vegetable soup with baby bok choy and scallions. You can use your beef bone broth in any recipe that calls for bullion or store-bought broth.
Beef bone broth can also be consumed as a beverage. This is a great way to get tons of nutrients without a lot of fuss.
Making beef bone broth at home is one of the easiest things you can do and you'll get superior results over that stuff you buy in the store. The biggest advantage is that you'll know exactly what is in your broth. We love making it because it's delicious and nutritious, but it's also a great way to use parts of the animal that may otherwise end up in the trash. We hate to throw away anything, especially when you can use it to make something so tasty as bone broth.
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