Beef stock is a must have pantry staple for stews, soups, and gravy. Learn how to make homemade beef stock and preserve it into shelf-stable jars using a pressure canner.
Beef stock is made by combining roasted meaty beef bones with vegetables, herbs, spices, and slowly simmered to build layers of flavor. Once you start making your own homemade stocks, you will find that they taste so much better than store bought.
You also have full control of the ingredients and can eliminate the extra preservatives and sodium found in store bought stocks. There is no salt in this canning recipe. Instead, you will flavor with salt along with the other ingredients when you use it in your favorite recipes.
Tips for Pressure Canning Beef Stock
You will need to use a pressure canner to can the beef stock safely. There are no safe options for canning stock or broth in a boiling water canner. Freeze the beef stock if you don’t have a pressure canner.
Here are more tips for making and beef stock:
Allow plenty of time
Beef bones are chock-full of flavor. The longer you simmer, the more the collagen and gelatin will break down and infuse flavor and nutrients into the stock.
Plan on at least a two-day process to make and can the beef stock. This will allow time for the stock to simmer on the stove to extract lots of flavor and gelatin from the bones. Plus time for the beef stock to cool overnight in the refrigerator so the fat separates and rises to the top for easy removal.
There isn’t a lot of hands-on time required except for an occasional stir and skimming of foam that gathers on top. So you can do other things as the stock simmers on a back burner or a wood stove.
Where to find beef bones
Bones were once considered a waste product of processing meat and discarded or given away for free by butchers if you were a regular customer. Now that homemade bone broth is more popular, beef bones are often sold right along the various cuts of meat at the butcher shop and supermarket. Sometimes these are found in the freezer section of the meat department.
Ask your butcher for quality, beef bones small enough to fit into a large saucepot. Aim for a mix of such as oxtail, neck bones, and marrow bones. Knuckle bones are ideal if your butcher can cut in half, so they are more manageable. Including some meaty bones will add more flavors to your beef stock.
Types of bones you may encounter:
- Leg bones: Beef leg bones seem to be the most common bones I have come across at the supermarket. The marrow bones are the longer bones of the leg and may be cut into 3- or 6-inch pieces. These may be labeled as, “soup bones” or “marrow bones.”
- Knuckle bones: Beef knuckle bones are from the various joints in the legs. These bones have a lot of collagen, which results in a thick stock or broth.
- Oxtail bones: These are bones from the tails of cows. In the past, oxtail bones were from the tails of oxen. The “oxtail” term carried over, but now the bones are commonly the tail of cows. Oxtail bones are sliced from the tail and include some gelatin-rich meat and bone with marrow that will add a hearty beef flavor, and lots of thick gelatin to your beef stock.
- Saved beef bones: You can also keep bones in the freezer from roasts, ribs, and steaks until you have accumulated enough to turn into beef stock.
Save your vegetable scraps
While on the subject of saving, consider also saving vegetable scraps to use for making stock. I keep a gallon sized zipper bag in the freezer and add bits and pieces of vegetable scraps over time. It contains onion ends, trimmed celery, carrot pieces, parsley stems, and garlic cloves that have begun to sprout. When the time comes to make stock or broth, I just pull out handfuls of what I need for each recipe.
Steps for Making and Canning Beef Stock
If you are new to canning or need a refresher, it may be helpful to review this article on pressure canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for making and canning homemade beef stock:
Step 1: Roast the beef bones
Roasted bones add a deep flavor and rich brown color to your beef stock. Place your beef bones in large roasting pans and roast in a hot oven until they are nice and brown.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables
While the bones are roasting, wash the carrots and celery well under clean, running water. Peel the carrots, remove the ends, and chop into pieces. Remove the root end from the celery and cut the ribs into chunks. Remove the root end of the onion and chop into pieces. You can include the onionskins if they look healthy. Discard if they show signs of decay or mold. Crush the garlic.
Step 3: Deglaze the roasting pan
Once the bones have finished roasting. Remove the roasting pans, and place the bones into a large stock pot. Add a cup of water to the hot roasting pan to deglaze the pan. As the water steams, scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to release the flavor infused brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Pour the flavorful liquid to your pot.
Step 4: Simmer the stock
Add the prepared vegetables, garlic, herbs, and remaining ingredients to the large pot. Top with water. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
While your beef stock is simmering, it will release fat and impurities that will rise to the top as grey foam. The foam can affect the flavor of the stock if it isn’t removed. So skim it off every now and then as your beef stock slowly simmers.
Step 5: Strain and chill
Remove the beef bones and vegetables from the stock using a slotted spoon. Strain the stock through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve into a large container or jars. Let the beef stock cool completely, and then refrigerate overnight. Once the stock cools in the refrigerator, the fat will rise to the top and can be easily removed.
Step 6: Prepare the canning equipment
The following day, gather your canning equipment, prepare the jars, setup the pressure canner, and organize your work area.
You will need:
- Pressure canner
- 8 pint sized canning jars, or 4 quart sized jars
- Canning lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large sauce pot, small pot, and kitchen towels.
Wash the canning jars and lids with warm, soapy water and rinse well. Place the pressure canner on the stove and insert the canning rack. Fill the jars part way with warm water and place them in the canner. Add water, cover, and bring the canner it to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize and warm up the canner.
Warm your lids in a small pot of water over low heat. Keep everything warm until you are ready to can.
Step 7: Can the stock
Slide a thin, flat spatula across the chilled stock and remove the fat layer. Removing the fat is beneficial for several reasons, not only will your broth be clearer and contain less fat, but there will be a reduced chance of the thick fat interfering with the seal as the jar is processed in the canner.
Add the stock to a large stockpot. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Fill the warm jars with the hot beef stock leaving a 1-inch headspace. Add the lids and process the jars according to the instructions for your canner for the proper times indicated in the recipe below.
After the processing time is complete, let the canner cool and depressurize, remove the jars, and let them cool completely. Wash the jars with soapy water, label, date, and store the jars of beef stock in a cool location. Use within 12-18 months.
Canning Beef Stock
- 8 pounds meaty beef bones
- 2 large onions chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme or 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage or 2-3 sprigs of fresh sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 5-6 quarts water
To Make the Beef Stock
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- Place the bones into a large roasting pan.
- Roast uncovered in a preheated oven until the bones are brown, about 35-45 minutes. Toss about halfway through so everything browns evenly.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Use tongs to remove the bones from the roasting pan and place them into a large stockpot.
- Add 1 cup of the water to the hot roasting pan to deglaze the pan. As the water steams, scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to release the flavor infused brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the flavorful liquid to your pot.
- To your stockpot, add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, sage, rosemary, peppercorns, and enough water to cover the bones by a couple of inches, about 4 quarts.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Stir occasionally and skim off any foam.
- Remove the beef bones and vegetables from the stock using tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large container or extra canning jars. Discard the solids. Let the stock cool completely, and then refrigerate overnight. Can the beef stock the following day.
To Can the Beef Stock
- Wash your jars and lids in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Place the jar rack into the pressure canner, set the clean jars in the canner, add water to the jars and fill canner to around 3-inches. Cover and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize. Warm your lids in a small pot of water over low heat. Keep jars and lids warm until they are ready to use.
- Remove the beef stock from the refrigerator and skim off the fat that has risen to the top.
- Return the stock to a large saucepot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Remove the warm jars from the canner using your jar lifter, drain, and line up on the towel.
- Use the canning funnel and ladle and fill the jars with beef stock, leaving 1-inch headspace at the top of the jars.
- Use your magnetic lid lifter to lift lids out of the warm water, center lid on the jar, and screw on band until it is fingertip tight.
- Place the jars into pressure canner on the canning rack. Leave space in between the jars. Once the jars are all in canner, adjust the water level per your pressure canner's instructions. If adding water, use the hot water from the small pot you used to warm your lids.
- Place the lid on the canner and lock it. Bring the canner to a boil over medium-high heat. Follow the directions for your pressure canner and vent steam for 10 minutes, add the pressure weight. Bring the canner to 10 pounds of pressure, and process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. Adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary.
- When processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure canner to cool naturally until it reaches 0 pressure, about an hour.
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and check the jars. Unlock the cover of the canner, and remove it by tilting the lid away from you so that steam does not burn your face. If jars are still boiling, let them sit in the canner for another 5 minutes, or until the boiling stops.
- Use a jar lifter to lift jars carefully from canner and place on a kitchen towel. Let the jars cool for 12 to 24-hours. You should hear a "ping" as the jar lids seal.
- After 12 to 24-hours, check to be sure the lids have sealed by pushing on the center. The lid should not pop back up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate the jar and use up within a few days or freeze for longer.
- Once the jars are cool, remove the screw on bands and wash the jars. Label and date the jars. Store your jars in a cool, dark place and use within 12 months. Yields about 8 pints or 4 quarts depending on how long you cooked the stock.
- This is a tested safe canning recipe from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Altering the recipe may make it unsafe for canning.
- All times are at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. Adjustments must be made for altitudes greater than 1,000 ft.
- If you need immediate canning help or answers, please contact your local extension office.
Don’t be alarmed if you open a jar and the stock has a jelly like consistency. That just means that your stock contains a lot of natural collagen from the bones. When you heat it up, it will return to liquid.
References and Further Reading:
- Principals of Home Canning – National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Using Pressure Canners – National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Selecting, Preparing and Canning Meat – National Center for Home Food Preservation
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