A side adventure in my beef stock experiment is the quest to make a gelatinous stock. A good broth is supposed to thicken like jello in the refrigerator, a sign that it contains a significant dose of collagen and gelatin from the bones.
This is an important quality in a stock, especially for our purposes. The whole basis for our beef stock theory is that foods rich in glucosamine and similar nutrients provide the raw material the body needs to repair connective tissue. Since cellulite is caused by damaged connective tissue, my theory is that a regular diet of nutrient-dense bone broth should help heal cellulite.
But how do I know if my homemade broth is rich in these critical nutrients?
The first time I made my stock in the slow cooker, I was excited to see how it would turn out after it was chilled overnight in the refrigerator. I had let it simmer for two days! That should be plenty of time to sap every last ounce of goodness out of the bones. I admit, I was disappointed the next day when the stock was still completely liquid.
In her famous traditional foods cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon recommends cooking the bones for up to 72 hours. So for my next batch, I let the stock simmer for a full three days. The bones were like wet sand by the time I was done with them, crumbling in my hand.
The next morning, the stock was a dark and rich in color but it was still a liquid broth rather than a thick gelatinous stock.
The next “fix” I tried was to reduce the stock by evaporating a significant portion of the water. It makes sense that too much water could prevent the gelatin from thickening. Cooks often reduce stock, especially if it is destined for the freezer. It requires less space that way.
I reduced the stock by over 75 percent, returned it to the refrigerator, and STILL the stock did not thicken. It certainly tasted rich, but it simply would not gel.
Then I read this article about beef stock at SimplyRecipes.com. The author suggests adding a few veal bones to provide gelatin. Apparently, young cow bones contain more gelatin and thus they make for a thicker stock.
(Notice how she says that she first started making beef stock because her “Chinese doctor” told her to make soup from scratch for her health. His exact words were: “Get beef bones and boil them.”)
When I read this article, I happened to have a batch of stock simmering (as I often do these days) and a leftover bone from the veal chop I ate for dinner. I tossed it in the pot and let it simmer for a day or two. But I was defeated again. The stock did not gel.
In the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, Sally Fallon suggests adding a small amount of powdered gelatin directly to the stock. She recommends Bernard Jensen Gelatin because it is made from cows that are all or mostly grass-fed.
For the last few days, I’ve been adding a spoonful of gelatin to my morning beef stock. As expected, it now gels beautifully.
But I am still curious why my beef stock will not gel on its own. This morning, I might have discovered a clue to the mystery.
I took a new jar of beef stock out of the freezer last night. It did not completely thaw before I went to heat it up for my breakfast soup this morning. The edges were thawed enough to easily pour a serving into the pot, but there was a solid chunk of frozen stock in the center. The strange thing was that the thawed stock around the edge of the jar was a thick gel, not a runny liquid like it is when the whole jar is thawed.
Could it be that the entire stock would gel if my refrigerator was set at a colder temperature? I currently have it set at 3 (9 is the coldest). Do you have any secrets for creating a thick stock?
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