I love chicken broth but there are other options for broth that are delicious and nutritious. Beef or bison broth is one of them. It’s very easy to make, especially if you use a slow cooker. Storing small quantities is very handy for various recipes. (For example, I needed 1/2 cup of beef broth for a Shepard’s Pie recipe recently). Cooking vegetables in broth can make food taste better, and it increases the nutrient content too. You can substitute broth in many recipes in place of water, (for example, use 1/3 cup beef broth when making steak fajitas).
I highly recommend using bones from cows or bison that are organic and 100% grass fed. They will be more expensive but you will get more “bang for your buck”. (More nutrients and less toxins). When consuming meat from animals at the top of the food chain, any toxins they were exposed to will be accumulated in their fat and other tissues. It is called bioaccumulation. I like to buy beef soup bones that come from cows raised on a local farm, ( I know the farmers). They also sell these bison bones in their farm store which are good quality.
- Thaw your bones. (Either in the refrigerator 1-2 days before you plan on using them, or here are some tips on how to thaw out meat quickly if you don’t plan ahead).
- Sprinkle your soup bones with some salt and pepper, place them in a roasting pan and brown them at 350 F for 30-60 minutes. This makes the broth taste better. The first time I made beef broth I forgot to roast the bones and the taste was not so good. I highly recommend roasting them first.
- Place the bones in a slow cooker and cover them with water. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar or lemon juice. This helps to draw the minerals out of the bones.
(Note: if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make broth in a large pot. The steps are all the same, except you let the broth simmer in a pot for at least two hours. The longer it simmers, the richer the broth. I tried it once and it is not hard. I prefer the “fix it and forget it” method with the slow cooker because then I can let it simmer overnight without worrying about burning down my kitchen.
- You can add vegetables and spices to flavor the broth at this point. I usually don’t because I like to add them later when I use the broth in a recipe. That part is personal preference.
- Let the broth simmer on the low setting for 24-48 hours.
- Filter the broth using a strainer over a measuring cup and pour the broth into a mason jar.
The broth can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days. If I know I won’t use the broth soon I freeze it. It does not take long to melt “broth cubes”.
- You can store the broth in mason jars in the freezer if you leave some room at the top. This is not the method I prefer because thawing can be a hassle. (I managed to crack a mason jar recently by running warm water over a congealed homemade salad dressing. I can only imagine the luck I would have thawing out frozen broth in the sink). I also worry about glass jars breaking in my freezer from expanding liquid. However, I know people who regularly freeze chili and broth in the mason jars and have not reported any problems with it.
- I used to pour the broth into ice cube trays and store the “broth cubes” in a plastic bag or container. Even if the ice cube tray is BPA free this method still concerns me a little. (I don’t fully trust plastic).
- I have frozen broth in round pyrex containers with plastic lids and that worked. The plastic lids on the top are not in contact with the broth and pop off if you overfill. (Breakage is less likely than mason jars).
- I recently bought these silicone cube trays and I like them better than plastic ice cube trays. I measure out 1/4 cup of broth, (once the broth has fully cooled), into each cube. The broth cubes can be stored in a glass container, with less concern about cracks and breaks because the liquid has already expanded. This is my preferred method of storing right now. It is very easy to melt the “broth cubes” and they pop out of the silicone trays very easily.
I love making homemade broth in the winter. I get so many root vegetables through my CSA, and soup is an easy meal to put together.
Have you made homemade beef broth before? What is your preferred method of storing it?