Beef Broth

Soup season has arrived and with it sniffles and sickness, but I'm ready. Over the course of a week I've made roughly three gallons of beef bone broth from a single package of Morning Harvest farm's marrow bones! I've written about the healing properties of chicken broth already, and beef bone broth is very similar—if you want to dive into the differences, you can start with this blog post from the Kettle and Fire blog.

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On day one I made both broth and soup. I put the bones into my soup pot straight from the freezer, covered them with water, and added about a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Letting the bones soak in cold, diluted vinegar for an hour or two begins the process of breaking down the minerals in the bones. While that was soaking I prepared the other soup ingredients, which included a big zucchini from the end of summer. With small zucchinis I'm happy to include seeds and skins in my soups, but this time the seeds and skin were a little too tough. Still, there was no need to waste all the wonderful nutrition—I simply put the rejected bits in with the bones once I set them to boiling! I also added other scraps including garlic and onion skins. (Read this article for more on the topic of minimizing waste.)

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Ideally I would have simmered the beef bone broth for at least 24 hours before using any of it, but since I was making soup that night I decided that I'd go ahead and use some of the broth after only a few hours. It might not have been very rich, but it was tastier than simply using water!

I transferred all of the bones and scraps into a large crock pot and left the liquid in my soup pot so that I could use it for that evening's dinner, then I filled the crock pot with fresh water. I left the crock pot on low for another 24 hours before using any more of the broth.

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As the bones simmered, they released fat and marrow which rose to the surface. The fat is the beautiful sparkly bits in this picture and the marrow is the white stuff—both are signs of a wonderfully rich broth. Marrow is quite edible and very healthy but I find the texture a bit odd so I try to hide it, usually by making a cream soup—the kind where the soup base ends up pureed in the blender. I don't strain the marrow out before using the broth, but include it in the blender with the rest of the soup base.

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Using a crock pot meant it was easy to keep a "perpetual broth" going for days. Every time I made more soup or wanted to sip some broth, I ladled some off the top and then added fresh water to fill the pot again. The jars pictured here show how the last batch differs from the first batch. It's less rich and has substantially less fat, but it's still wonderfully healthy.

The jar on the left will last longer in the refrigerator because the thick layer of fat will protect it from spoiling. Because of this, I usually reserve the first few jars of bone broth that I make and use the later batches right away.

How do you prepare for cold season—do you make bone broth? 

Share your tips in the comment section!