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  • Writer's pictureArden Sleadd

Making home beef broth

Good stewardship means using the whole animal, tongue to tail, so I'm using what most butchers throw away.

Can you believe all of this is usually thrown away? They call it "trim", and what you see in my sink is only 1/6 to ⅛ of all the trim that came from a single heifer, saved by my request. I'm using all of it as much as possible. It's grass-fed--why not? I am making bacon out of the piece laying at the center--why not? Some online "advice" says, "only use the suet from the kidney area for tallow." Again I say--why not? Unless I hear a really good reason not to someday, I'm using it all.

The spine, sawed perfectly down the middle, revealing the fatty white spinal cord.

Some may think this an ugly sight; I think it's a marvelous example of our Creator's ingenious design. The spinal bones are so much more interconnected and overlapping than I imagined. I had to enlist the strong man in the house to help me disconnect them.

After thawing and breaking up the huge pieces of bone, fat, and meat (2 ½ feet long!) and fitting them into the pots, I covered them in filtered water (about 1.5 gallons) and added about a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar. I had one large stainless steel pan and one pressure cooker, both full, brought to boil and simmering, for about 4 hours. You can do this for up to 2 days to get all the calcium you can out of the bone, but at the expense of the gelatin, which I have observed can be destroyed by cooking too long; this time, due to the summer heat, I shortened the cooking time, to be done by noon.

My workhorse pressure cooker, found online, used. It needed the inside gasket replaced but it works like a champ.

After cooking the broth, I turned off the heat under the pressure cooker and the pot to low. When the pressure was down on the cooker, I opened and removed all the bones from both pots and ladled out the liquid in the jars, keeping the mixture hot, and put the seals on the jars. Because there was still a lot of unrendered fat remaining, I combined it with the meat into the stainless-steel pot and continued to cook it down for another hour until there was little solid fat left. I ate a large portion of the meat with a liberal salting, and reserved the rest. I will try to use it for a pemmican recipe. I could have pressure-canned the meat, but the processing takes 75-90 minutes, and I didn't have enough to make it worthwhile (less than one quart).

The fatty meat remaining, which I ate with salt and kept the rest for pemmican.

Then I thoroughly washed the pressure cooker and set it up for pressure-canning the jars of rendered fat and broth. Government guidelines for pressure canning beef broth say (at 0-1000 ft altitude) to pressure-cook at 10-11 pounds pressure for 20 minutes if in pints, 25 minutes if in quarts.

The fun part is when you're all done and the jar lids start popping!

Notice the big difference between the boiled stock on the left, and the pressure-cooked contents on the right. You may draw your own conclusions as to why. Pressure cooking does the work in half the time that it takes non-pressurized cooking to get the same results. The higher temperature achieved by high pressure, however, does destroy more nutrients, so there is a trade-off.

Left: boiled broth for four hours. Right: pressure cooked broth, four hours.

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