How To Make Beef Stock in a Slow Cooker

24 Jan

As those of you who’ve been reading along at The Cellulite Investigation already know, homemade bone broth is taking a primary role in our effort to identify the elusive anti cellulite diet.  Broth is rich in collagen, glucosamine, and other micronutrients that work to rebuild connective tissue (it makes sense, since real broth is made from connective tissue).  In  The Cellulite Solution, Dr. Howard Murad claims his patients with cellulite often see an improvement within a matter of weeks when they increase their consumption of these nutrients.

For reasons I explained last week, I’m now using beef broth to test my theory that homemade broth is an effective anti cellulite treatment.   Homemade beef broth is a bit more complicated than chicken soup or shrimp stock, but if you follow the instructions below, you’ll be on your way to a nutrient-dense beef broth in no time.

My New-Found Love Affair with My Slow Cooker

In comparison to chicken or seafood stocks, beef stock requires a significantly longer cooking time. The bones are much larger and therefore require more time for all those minerals to seep into the stock. This is why I put off making beef stock until now. Who has time to stay home for 24-48 hours while it simmers away on the stove?

Thanks to my favorite Christmas gift this year, I am now able to make a slow-simmered beef stock without any fuss.  Slow cookers are perfect for making stock. I don’t know why I didn’t use one before! You can leave them on when you leave the house, plus you don’t have to worry about continually adding water to the pot. Making stock in the slow cooker was so simple. I don’t think I will ever go back to the stove top method.

The How-To of Beef Stock

I read on FoodRenegade.com that beef knuckles are one of the best bones to use for making a thick stock, so that is what I used this first time around (see How to Make Beef Broth and Use It Well). I am fortunate to have a local butcher who keeps knuckles on hand from locally raised cows.  They only cost a few bucks.  If you don’t have access to knuckles, the butcher informed me that any meaty bone will do.

Making the stock was simple. I browned the bones on both sides in a hot oven. Then I added them, along with a quartered onion and a splash of vinegar, to a pot of water and brought it to a boil. You can skip this step if you feel like it. I just didn’t want to wait for the slow cooker to heat the stock. You can also add carrots, celery, and some herbs. I didn’t have any on hand, so I made a very basic stock this time around.  Once the water was nice and hot, I transferred the contents of the pot to the slow cooker and let it be for the next two days. It was worth it for the aroma alone. Who wants potpourri when you can inhale the scent of steak all day!

After 48 hours, I strained the stock and let the liquid cool to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator. The next morning, I removed the thick layer of fat from the top and put it in a separate jar. I was so happy to discover that my $4 beef knuckle produced not only several quarts of nutrient-dense bone broth, but an entire jar of beef tallow –an excellent cooking fat.

The stock itself was not as thick as I had hoped. I once had a stock from a local farm that was as dense as jello, but I wonder if that is because they left it on the stove to reduce it down. My recipe made five quarts of beef stock. Next time I am going to return it to the stove after it’s done cooking to see if it will produce a thicker stock once more of the water cooks off.

Do you have any tips for making nutrient-dense homemade stock?

*This post is part of Monday Mania hosted by The Healthy Home Economist, Works for Me Wednesday hosted at We Are THAT Family, Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop, and Fight Back Friday hosted at FoodRenegade.

A Cellulite Investigator Update

Thanks for stopping by The Cellulite Investigation.  Things are a little quite around here at the moment.  I’m taking an extended break as I get married and settle into married life and a new home.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

Comments

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Joie says:
1/24/2011

Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions says the way to get your stock to have the most gelatin and nutrition is to add vinegar to it as it cooks. The vinegar draws out the gelatin and the minerals in the bones to produce a healthier stock.

Hope this helps.
Joie

Reply

Thanks, Joie! You’re totally right about that. I forgot to mention that I added a splash of vinegar before I brought the pot to a boil. I used coconut vinegar, but apple cider vinegar works great, too. Thanks for pointing that out!

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Latebloomer says:
1/24/2011

This sounds fantastically easy and good. Thanks for leading the way, Melissa!

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Jo at Jo’s Health Corner says:
1/25/2011

It makes such a difference to make your own broth, and it is not as hard as we often think it would be. Great post.

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SAHMmy Says says:
1/26/2011

Yes, to get thicker stock you have to reduce it–I reduce on the stove from a 6 qt crockpot (cook bones & veggies & fill with water overnight on low) to about 1 1/2 cups. Season *before* you start reducing the broth. Pour the cooled stock into a gallon size freezer bag and roll up (makes a tube); freeze. The reduced stock will not freeze solid–you can easily cut a slice off the tube (once frozen) as needed.

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Our Whole Food Journey says:
1/26/2011

Just a thought, but perhaps propping up the crock pot lid with a couple of toothpicks for the last six hours of so would allow enough steam to escape that the stock would reduce without having to do the extra step on the stove?

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I like the way you think! Do you think it would be bad to just remove the lid altogether for a few hours at the end?

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Sherry says:
1/29/2011

Probably not a super idea, as the crockpot works at such low temps (around 170, I think) that taking the lid off would essentially (almost) stop the cooking process. It depends on that domed lid to keep the heat in and keep the stock cooking. So…. maybe the toothpicks or even a fork or something like that to keep it vented, but not let all the heat out. Just my thoughts. :)

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That makes sense, Sherry. I have my second batch simmering in the crock pot right now. I will probably try to reduce it afterward out of curiosity, just to see how thick it will get. I’ll see if I can rig something with the lid, or maybe I will just transfer it back to the stove. We’ll see how lazy I’m feeling in 2-3 days. Thanks for your advice!

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Erica says:
4/24/2011

Hi Melissa,

It only took 1 lb of beef knuckle to make several quarts of stock?

Reply

I can’t remember how many pounds I used. I’m traveling right now or else I would look it up in my copy of Nourishing Traditions. I think I used a 2 lb package. I also threw in a couple small marrow bones. It finally produced a gelatinous stock in this last batch. Yay!

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herama says:
4/24/2011

So I got a slow cooker yesterday and promptly started a lamb bone broth. It’s been 23 hours and I couldn’t wait to see, so I took out about a cup and strained with cheese cloth. Oh my god, it is SO greasy!!! I have to refrigerate to remove some of that fat. I really can’t believe the amount of fat that came off 4 large leg bones. Ugh.
It smells pretty good, though quite rich. And it’s VERY brown. I added an onion, about 1/2 head of garlic (love garlic) and 2 carrots.
I got the lamb bones free (supposedly free of hormones and anti-biotics, and from NZ, so grass fed.). However, Whole Foods charges almost $4/lb for organic, pastured beef knuckle bones! WTF? One knuckle = $10. I don’t think that is very cost-effective. For now I’ll stick to lamb. The price is much better.
Can’t wait to taste it!

Reply

Yay, herama! Yes, sometimes the stock contains a ton of fat. The first time I made it, I came away with a large jar of beef fat that was great for cooking. I will have to add garlic next time. That sounds really good.

I can’t remember if I responded to your question about the pressure cooker. I don’t know much about them, so I left a question on Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Facebook page since she is such a real food maven. She hasn’t had a chance to respond yet with Easter and all. But hopefully you will like your slow cooker. And wow, great deal on the bones. Did the butcher at Whole Foods give those to you? I need to look around for something like that!

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