Bone Broth-How to Make Beef Broth

Bone Broth-How to Make Beef Broth

If you haven’t heard about bone broth yet, you probably will soon.  It is one of those very old nutritional ideas that is enjoying fresh attention. The terms broth and stock are often used interchangeably and you can find different definitions depending on where you look.  Most often the term “bone broth” is used for a broth that is said to have increased amounts of protein, gelatin, minerals, collagen and glucosamine.  I remember when I was growing up we were told that gelatin would give us healthy fingernails.  I haven’t found a good research source to back up all those nutritional claims but it is possible to compare the labels of broth or stock vs bone broth and see a difference.  Commercial versions of bone broth are starting to appear in the grocery stores.  You can find a great resource on bone broth here.

The USDA regulations for beef broth require a maximum ratio of 135 parts water to 1 part beef.  That is more than a gallon of water for each ounce of beef.  The beef flavor of commercial broth, such as it is, has to come from somewhere and it’s not from nice cuts of beef or meat at all. Making your own broth is easy and economical.  You are making a product that is a real work horse in the kitchen out of something that most people throw away. You will control the ingredients and avoid the excess sodium, additives, and possible food allergen ingredients in commercial broth.  Plus it will taste better.

There are some important technique differences between making broth and making bone broth.

  • Longer cooking time-Stove top/crock pot cooking times for bone broth: fish – 2-24 hours, chicken 6-24 hours, beef 12-72 hours
  • Addition of vinegar and soak (about an hour) to release nutrients
  • Skimming of any foam that rises
  • Straining of the final broth

The use of a pressure cooker can reduce cooking time dramatically.  This is an advantage if you don’t want a heat source going in the kitchen for long hours during the summer.  It also means you don’t have to leave an appliance going overnight.  I will only make beef broth overnight in a crock pot.  I’m just not comfortable leaving something on the stove overnight.  One disadvantage of a pressure cooker, though is that you have to stay nearby when using a pressure cooker on the stove.  Never leave a pressure cooker on the stove unattended.  I have never made fish stock so I can’t speak to how to make it in the pressure cooker.  Chicken bone broth can be made in a couple of hours.  Beef bone broth in 2 to 4 hours.  The size of the bones, and whether you start with cooked or raw bones will influence the cooking time.  You’ll know when it is done because the bones will be brittle and easily broken (chicken) or you can stick a fork in the beef bone;

bone broth fork

To make beef bone broth:

Beef bones (raw or saved from a cooked piece of meat).  I used a little over 2 pounds raw.

bone broth raw bones

Water –enough to cover the bones plus a few inches, follow manufacturer’s instructions on maximum amount to fill the pressure cooker

1-2 tablespoons of vinegar

1 cup of mixed onion, carrots, celery chopped, added at the beginning or later in the cooking process (optional)

Mixed herbs of choice: rosemary, thyme, etc , also can be added first or later (optional)


1) Roast bones in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned (optional)

bone broth bones cooked

  • Add bones and water to stock pot, crock pot or pressure cookerbone broth water
  • Add vinegar and let bones soak about an hour (less is fine)
  • Bring mixture to a boil without using the lid to the pressure cooker if using a pressure cooker-another lid is fine. Boiling may cause a scumy foam to rise to the top.  Skim off this foam.
  • Cook for 24 hours or more in a crock pot.  If using a pressure cooker: add the pressure cooker lid and follow manufacturer’s instructions to bring the cooker to pressure. Cook for 2 to 4 hours or more.  After 2 hours you can cool the cooker (either rapid cool or let the pressure drop on its own) and add the vegetables and herbs if you want to (celery, carrots, onion, rosemary, etc).  Check liquid levels and add more if needed. If you end the cooking time and your bones are not brittle you can return them to the pressure cooker and cook longer.bone broth veg
  • When time is up and the cooker is cool, remove the bones and any large vegetable pieces with a slotted spoon. Strain the broth through a cheese cloth.bone broth cooked
  • bone broth strain
  • Chill the broth and remove fat if desired.

Remember when you taste test this broth that it has no salt. Use your bone broth in any recipe that calls for stock or broth.  It can be frozen or cooked down further into a concentrate for easier storage.

Some sources say that the high heat of pressure cooking will keep the gelatin from, well, gelling but I haven’t found that to be the case.

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