Not long ago, my little boy was sick for a few days, so my usual cooking routine was interrupted. I absolutely don’t mind the interruption, and like having him home with me all day again, but I just hate it when my little ones are sick. Since he hasn’t been eating a whole lot (sore throat), I’m so thankful to have frozen broth at the ready for both the ease and the nourishment that it can give to him. I guess this is as good a time as any to post this recipe, then.
Making broth isn’t a new concept, but it seems as though the foodie/health world has rediscovered it lately. There’s a good reason for that. Making broth is simple and it offers so many healthy benefits that store-bought versions simply do not. They also taste so much better. Make a homemade broth and then do a taste-test with a store brand. I have. The difference is stunning.
For my beef broth, I start with finding some good, properly raised beef. You know I’m a grass-fed beef advocate. So, I suggest you find some grass-fed beef bones (you’ll want a mix of marrow bones and some with a bit of meat on them) to make the healthiest, most nourishing broth possible. Soup bones can easily be found at a good co-op or grocery store, your local butcher, or from the farmers market. They’re cheap. Sometimes they’re even labeled “pet bones," which is kind of odd. But trust me, they’ll make a rich broth that you’ll love.
The other ingredients you likely already have at home — carrots, celery, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, and some dried or fresh herbs. It’s a simple process that involves roasting the bones and vegetables first to really amp up their flavors, then simmering on the stove for hours with water, herbs, and vinegar. The vinegar is added to draw out some of the minerals from the bones. I’ve read conflicting information on this, but I finally decided that since I love the flavor it imparts, I’m going to go with it. Simmer this broth as long as you can. The longer you do, the more nutrients it will draw out of the bones.
The flavor will be good after three hours or so, but shoot for eight or even 24, if that’s a possibility for you. Also, after simmering for about two to three hours, I remove the bone with meat on it, and trim the cooked meat off. I put the bone back into the broth and save the meat to use another time.
At this point it hasn’t been overcooked, but it has still added plenty of flavor to the broth already. If you don’t want to bother, just leave it in the broth for the duration of the time. As long as you hit that three-hour mark, the broth will taste amazing! Fill your freezer up with both this beef broth and this chicken broth for quick, healthy soups this winter.
The Recipe: Homemade Beef Broth
(makes a few quarts)
about 6 pounds of good quality, preferably grass-fed, beef bones (some containing marrow and some containing a bit of meat)
about 3 carrots, halved
2 celery stalks, halved
1 large onion, quartered
1 garlic bulb (that’s the entire thing), halved and not peeled
3 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
handful of fresh parsley, rough chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt, or more to taste
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup). Place the beef bones, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic on the pan with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast for about 40-45 minutes, or until the beef and vegetables have a bit of color. Remove from oven.
Add the beef, vegetables, and any juices (leave the grease behind) to a large kettle. Top it with the bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, fresh parsley, cider vinegar, and enough cold filtered water to cover it all.
Bring everything to a high simmer so that it’s almost boiling, but not quite. Then reduce the heat with the lid ajar to just a low simmer that is barely bubbling and let it cook away for as many hours as you can. Three hours for sure, but shoot for more, if you can. If wanting to use the meat from the meaty bone (and you should — it’s great for quick meals and/or snacks), remove from bone after about 2-3 hours, put the bone back in the pot.
After you have finished simmering the broth, remove the large pieces with tongs and strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. This will give you a nice clear broth. At this point you can put it in jars (or BPA-free plastic quart-sized containers) leaving about an inch of head-space (the liquid will expand as it freezes) or leave it in a large pot and refrigerate until completely cold (this will take hours, so overnight works well) and pour into jars afterwards. This makes removing the top layer of grease a cinch. Once that has been completed, throw a lid on it and freeze.
Laurie Jesch-Kulseth is a lifelong home cook who has always believed that eating healthy food is an important part of a balanced life. A wife and mother of two, she pours her heart into the meals she makes for her family. She photographs and writes about it all on her blog, Relishing It, where a version of this story first appeared.