Making broth is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. It just makes me happy.
Not only is homemade broth frugal, it’s very nutritious as well. It contains beneficial minerals, healthy fats, collagen, amino acids, and more. These can be lacking in store-bought, shelf-stable broths, which rely on flavorings and even sugar to try to mimic the wonderful taste of a homemade broth. Even organic broths can contain mystery flavor enhancers.
All of those ingredients are superfluous: you only need some bones, veggies, and salt to make an extremely tasty broth. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy broth when I’m in a pinch. But it can’t compare to homemade.
Beef broth is one of my favorites. It has such a deep, rich flavor. If you’ve never had stew made with from-scratch beef broth, you are really missing out.
Begin by roasting your soup bones. I like to set my oven to 375ºF and bake my bones and meat for about 30 minutes, or until they begin to brown.
You can get soup bones from a butcher or farmer, or just save bones from the beef you cook. Any variety of bones will work. Mine happened to be quite meaty.
Transfer the roasted meat and bones to a crock pot. Make sure you add any drippings from the roasting pan to the slow cooker as well.
Of course you can use a large pot and cook your broth on the stove instead, but I highly, highly recommend using a slow cooker. It’s so much easier to maintain a constant temperature, and if you happen to leave the house for an hour or so and forget you have broth cooking, you won’t return to a smoke-filled kitchen. Not that I speak from experience or anything.
Adding veggies to your stock boosts the flavor as well as the minerals. I really like onions, carrots and celery as a base. You can also save woody mushroom stems to add to the broth. Fresh herbs make a lovely addition as well. You can even throw in eggshells for added calcium!
You only need to give the veggies a rough chop. Plop them in the slow cooker with the meat and bones.
Add water to cover.
I omitted it this time, but it’s great to add an acidic medium to the broth. This helps to break down the bones. You can use vinegar, lemon juice, tomato products, or even wine (red would be best for beef broth).
I also like to add salt at the beginning of the cooking process. I think it helps with the flavor. But don’t get too carried away! The broth will concentrate as it cooks. You can always add more at the end. Or you can omit it entirely and wait to add salt until you make a soup with the broth.
Set your crockpot to low. Gently simmer the broth for 6-24 hours. Make sure to skim off any scum that appears on the surface of the broth!
If you’re in a pinch, you can simmer for a shorter time, but less flavor and minerals will be extracted from the bones.
During the last 10–20 minutes of cooking time, add any fresh herbs you’d like to use to the crockpot. I think parsley adds a wonderful flavor, but I’m sure thyme would be lovely as well.
Now it’s time to strain your broth!
This can get really messy really fast. I like to set up a little tower: jar, funnel, then strainer.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can lift the whole (cooled) pot of broth and pour it over the strainer. This has ended in many messes for me.
Instead, I like to use a measuring cup to remove the broth from the slow cooker.
Now you can easily pour the broth through the strainer. It won’t 100% prevent all spills, but it greatly reduces them.
You can finish off with a smaller ladle so you can easily get all of the goodness out of the pot.
Make sure you save any meat from the bones! I shredded mine and used it to make a very tasty beef stew.
Once the broth has cooled down, you’re ready to store it! It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, or a few months in the freezer.
If you decide to store your broth in the freezer in glass jars, make sure you leave plenty of room for the broth to expand. Otherwise the jar will break and your broth will be ruined. It’s also important to place your jars in a safe spot in the freezer so they don’t get knocked around.
Of course you could always use stainless steel or plastic containers for worry-free freezer storage.
Another storage option is to freeze the broth in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Once the broth is solid, pop it into a freezer-safe resealable bag.
Note: some people like to skim the fat off of the top of their broth before they store it, but I prefer to leave it. If you do decide to skim it off, you can save it for cooking.
You can certainly run another batch of broth using the same bones. I always make at least 2 batches of broth, but I’ve heard that you can keep using the bones until they begin to fall apart.
- The basic components of beef broth are beef bones, vegetables, an acidic ingredient (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.), salt, and water to cover.
- Simmer the broth gently for 6-24 hours. Skim off any scum. Add fresh herbs in the last 10-20 minutes.
- Once cooled, strain into storage containers.
- Broth will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, or several months in the freezer.
Now you know the fabulous process of making your own beef broth. You definitely need to give it a try if you never have! Your house will smell amazing, and you’ll be making some of the tastiest soups and stews ever.