Learning how to make beef stock isn’t hard, and the results are so worth it. A homemade beef stock is a lot healthier than anything you can buy – because you make it yourself, you know that you’re not putting in chemicals, preservatives, or tons of sodium.
And that’s not all…. it’s just a whole lot cheaper! You can make an amazing beef stock by saving beef bones that you’d normally throw away, or by buying inexpensive bones.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to make beef stock. Just read on, or click on one of the links below to jump directly to that section.
Here we go!
What Is Stock?
Beef stock may sound like something complicated that you can’t possibly make at home, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just become so convenient to pick up a can at the grocery store that a lot of us have forgotten what it really is.
Beef stock is just what you get when you simmer beef bones and meat in water for a very long time. Yup, that’s pretty much it. Of course, there are a few tricks to knowing how to make beef stock, but that’s essentially it.
A well-made stock is an awesomely flavorful liquid that you can use to make a lot of dishes better. But it also has a special texture.
When you simmer the beef bones, the collagen from the bones turns to gelatin and enters the stock. It’s what gives a stock its particular mouthfeel that makes it so great.
It’s also what makes a stock different from a broth. A broth is made up from meat, not bones, simmered in water – no bones means no gelatin. A broth just can’t get the same depth of flavor that a good stock has.
Why Make Beef Stock?
Alright, we know what beef stock is. But before learning how to make beef stock, let’s go over why you’d make it:
- The first thing that comes to mind as a use for beef stock is soups and stews. If you’re making any kind of beef based soup, using beef stock will really enhance the flavor.
- You can also use stock instead of water to cook rice or grains. It’s a whole lot more flavorful, and it adds a lot of nutrients too.
- If you’re boiling vegetables, you can boil them in beef stock instead of water. It’ll add some flavor to them, which might help some picky eaters eat their greens.
- A beef stock is the perfect base for delicious gravies and sauces, especially when combined with pan drippings.
Those are all good reasons to use beef stock. And the real reason to learn how to make beef stock rather than use canned is that in this case, homemade is better. Trust me. If you make it right, you’ll never want to go back.
And it’s so easy to make in large quantities to store for later, so it’s almost just as convenient!
So let’s learn how to make beef stock!
How To Make Beef Stock
Now that we’ve gone over what beef stock is, and why to make it, we can talk about how to make beef stock. First, I’ll go over what you’ll need to do it, and then I’ll talk about how to do it.
What You’ll Need
Before you start making beef stock, it’s a good idea to gather all your ingredients and equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:
- One baking sheet or roasting pan. It should be big enough to hold all your beef bones.
- One pot, big enough to hold all your ingredients: the bones, the vegetables, the water, and the seasonings.
- Most importantly, you’ll need beef bones.
- You can use all kinds of bones – rib bones, marrow bones, soup bones, knuckles… pretty much anything goes. If you can, chop them up so they’re about 2 inch chunks.
- The bones can definitely have meat on them… In fact, they should! It’ll add an extra meaty flavor to the stock. But the main ingredient should be bones. Try to have about 3/4 bones to 1/4 meat.
- If you want, you can use a veal knuckle, too. It’ll add a lot of gelatin to the stock, giving you a stock with a lot more body.
- You can use leftover roasted bones, too. If you do, you can skip the part where you roast the bones in the instructions below.
- If you have leftover bones, you can freeze them, and keep adding to them until you have enough bones to make a big batch of stock.
- You’ll also need some cold water. You’ll need enough to cover all your bones and vegetables.
- You can also use a bit of vinegar. If you use about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per quart (or liter) of water, it’ll help extract all sorts of good nutrients like calcium from the bones, so you end up with a more nutritious stock.
- Aromatic vegetables are an important ingredient in any stock. Onions, celery and carrots are the ingredients to add to enhance flavors. You can also add a bit of garlic.
- You can use one onion, one large carrot, one celery stalk, and a few cloves of garlic for every 2-3 pounds of bones you use. There’s no right amount though. Just try different things to see what you prefer.
- You can chop the vegetables really coarsely. They’ll be simmering long enough to leech just about everything out of them no matter how big your pieces are. Just cut them so they fit easily in your pot.
- Finally, you can add seasonings to a beef stock.
- Salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and lots of other herbs make a really nice addition to any beef stock.
- Be sure to season sparingly. The stock will reduce as it simmers, which will intensify the flavors.
- If you’re worried about overpowering the stock, add your seasonings during the last hour or two of cooking. It’ll give you a bit more control.
And that’s what you need! The next step is to put it all together and learn how to make beef stock.
How To Make Beef Stock
Alright, now that we have all the ingredients and equipment we need, let’s learn how to make beef stock.
- Preheat your oven to 375F.
- Arrange the beef bones on your baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, until they’re nicely browned.
- It’s not necessary, but you can brush the bones with a bit of oil to prevent them from sticking.
- You don’t have to roast the bones before making your stock. It does tend to give the stock a meatier, richer flavor though, which is a good quality in a beef stock. It’s definitely worth it.
- The bones should never char, or they’ll make the stock bitter. If they start to burn, reduce the heat. They should brown, not burn.
- Meanwhile, clean and coarsely chop your carrots, onions and celery and place them in the stock pot.
- When the bones are browned, place them in the stock pot.
- If your roasting dish can go on the stove, you can deglaze it with a bit of water or wine and scrape up all the brown bits, and toss the mixture in the stock pot.
- If not, you can just try scraping off what’s left in the pan. Those brown bits, the fond, are nice and flavorful. Just be sure not to damage your pan!
- Cover everything with cold water, and add the vinegar.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer for about 8 hours. Skim the scum that forms on the surface every so often.
- Yes, it really does need to simmer 8 hours, to extract as much as possible from the bones. Trust me, it’s well worth it. The taste will be outstanding. And you don’t have to stand there watching it the whole time!
- The stock should barely be simmering. The surface should be still, but you should still see some tiny bubbles rising from the bottom. That’s the best way to extract gelatin from the bones.
- Strain the stock.
- You can strain it through a colander first to remove the bigger chunks of vegetables and bones.
- If you like, you can also strain it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth to get a clearer stock.
- Let the stock cool down to room temperature, then store it in the fridge.
And now you know how to make beef stock. It takes a long time, but not a lot of effort. And it’s very easy, and so worth it.
- If you included some marrow bones in your beef bone mix, try to find the marrow and eat it – it might be floating, or it might still be in the bone. I’m not a big marrow fan myself, but a lot of people swear it’s the best part of making beef stock! Just spread it on a bit of bread or crackers and enjoy.
- You can throw out pretty much everything you strain out of the stock. It’s cooked long enough that almost all its nutritional value has been leeched out. Everything that was good is in the stock!
- While the stock is cooling, all the fat will rise to the surface. Once it’s had time to cool down in the fridge, the fat will solidify, making it very easy to skim off to get an awesome, delicious, low fat beef stock.
- If you like, you can reduce the stock again after straining it. Just bring it to a boil, then simmer it until it’s reduced by half. This is called a demi-glace, and it’s essentially a super concentrated beef stock. You can use it for a super burst of flavor, or dilute it with water later to turn it back into a stock.
- If you’ve done everything right, the stock will be very gelatinous once it’s had a chance to cool down in the fridge. Don’t worry. That’s what makes it great! And it’ll liquefy again as soon as it’s heated.
All About Storing Beef Stock
Now that you know how to make beef stock, it’s time to store it. There are two ways to store beef stock: in the refrigerator, or in the freezer.
Storing In The Fridge
If you’re planning on using the stock not too long after making it, you can store it in the fridge. Here are a few tips:
- Leave the layer of fat over the stock until you plan to use it. The fat helps protect the stock from bacteria and things like that.
- If you didn’t use the stock as soon as you thought you would, don’t worry. It’ll stay good for 4-5 days. After 4-5 days, you should boil it at a rolling boil for about 15 minutes to kill any bacteria, and it’ll be good for a few more days.
Storing In The Freezer
Beef stock will keep in the freezer for months. It’s awesome, because you can make it in huge batches, and then freeze it. It doesn’t take any longer to make a big batch than a small one, so you save a lot of time.
Here are a few tips for storing beef stock in the freezer:
- Measure the beef stock before freezing it. Try freezing it in quarts (liters) or cups. That way, when a recipe calls for 2 cups of beef stock, you can get just the right amount from the freezer.
- You can also freeze smaller amounts of stock in ice cube trays, then store your stock cubes in a freezer bag. A couple of cubes are great for a quick pan sauce.
- When freezing beef stock, be sure to always leave some room in your container. Just like water, it’ll expand a bit as it freezes.
Well, that’s all to it. Now you know how to make beef stock, and you’re ready to start making awesome soups with your delicious homemade beef stock!
I hope you enjoy!