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Bone Broth: Grass Fed Bones vs. Organic, Hormone, Antibiotic Free Bones?

by (1683)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:36 PM
Created January 03, 2012 at 2:19 PM

I am currently brewing my first pot of bone broth. I went to the only store I know of in the area (Earthfare) that sells grass fed beef, but they did not have any grass-fed bones. I ended up buying 4 pounds of organic, but corn fed, hormone and antibiotic free bones...I know the quality of meat at Earthfare is far superior than the other huge grocery stores. I know Earthfare purchases humanely raised beef, and I think these beef cattle are grazed but they are fed corn as well.

I was wondering if using the bones from the corn fed animals would be bad for broth?

also...

How do you cook your bone broth? Crock pot? Stew pot? and what does it look/taste like during/after brewing?

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6107 · January 03, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Do you find your beef bone broth gels when it's cool? I understand that's what we want. I've always gotten good gel sets on chicken stock, and veal neck bones make especially firmly gelled stocks, though I don't know if they are as nutritious as adult beef or not. (They certainly are delicious....)

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15003 · January 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Thanks Nance! I have to credit Alton Brown for that one. He puts the stock pot(s) into a cooler filled with ice, with a couple of frozen bottles of water directly in the stock. I find the sink easier ;).

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37177 · January 03, 2012 at 11:05 PM

That's a good tip about the cold water bath! I've been getting away with air temp cooling and chilling but I'll do the cold water thing from now on.

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4 Answers

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12847 · January 03, 2012 at 2:59 PM

generally I don't think toxins/hormones/antibiotics are stored in bones, maybe they won't be as nutritious but that's about it.

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15003 · January 03, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I would definitely do bone broth with grain-fed bones over no broth, especially if the bones are hormone and antibiotic-free. The benefits of getting the gelatin and minerals is well worth it.

As far as recipes go, I like this one from Balanced Bites. It's really simple. Biggest hassle to broth is cooling it quickly enough to avoid providing a nice warm base for growing bacteria.

I fill my sink with cold water & ice and transfer the stock from the crock pot to a stainless steel stock pot and stir for a few minutes, then transfer to jars.

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6107 · January 03, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Do you find your beef bone broth gels when it's cool? I understand that's what we want. I've always gotten good gel sets on chicken stock, and veal neck bones make especially firmly gelled stocks, though I don't know if they are as nutritious as adult beef or not. (They certainly are delicious....)

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37
15003 · January 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Thanks Nance! I have to credit Alton Brown for that one. He puts the stock pot(s) into a cooler filled with ice, with a couple of frozen bottles of water directly in the stock. I find the sink easier ;).

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
37177 · January 03, 2012 at 11:05 PM

That's a good tip about the cold water bath! I've been getting away with air temp cooling and chilling but I'll do the cold water thing from now on.

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6107 · January 03, 2012 at 11:25 PM

I'm new to bone broths too. I couldn't find grass-fed bones either, but figured I'd go for it with conventional ones.

One of the upsides to living in Chicago (though it's bitterly cold today) is the profusion of Latino groceries, many of which still have full-service carnicerias (butcher shops) in back.

I generally prefer the mild and versatile flavor of chicken stock (and the quicker cook time), but I wanted to try beef. So the other day I asked for beef soup bones and the guy pulled out some very meaty, succulent looking beef shanks. While they looked terrific for a stew, I wanted bones without meat--but with plenty of marrow. So I asked again, and he pulled out a bag of miscellaneous bones in all shapes and sizes that were scraps. These were the bones I wanted: lots of big knobby chunks of cartilage (I think there was part of a hip ball joint in there) and other connective tissue, some with surprisingly large expanses of marrow. Some of these bones also had plenty of fat attached, which I trimmed and rendered (though I haven't used this fat yet so can't say how it tastes--it smells...farmy?)

He says no one asks for the bones these days, and they usually just throw them away. They were priced at 39 cents a pound, but when I got to the register, he just gave them to me for free and said to come back whenever I needed more.

So if you live in an area with such ethnic markets (Asian markets often have them too), try there first for a great buy--or maybe even free!

Oh--and I used a Rival Crock Pot, which was easy enough, but it seems the low setting is too low and the high seems too high. I'm still working it out.

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380 · January 03, 2012 at 10:48 PM

You should be fine with those bones from the sound of it. Do you have a farmer's market near you? I go to one every week or two and buy up all the grass-fed soup and marrow bones I can carry away.

I'm relatively new to cooking bone broth myself - just the last couple of months or so. I used a cast iron pot at first and then invested in a 16-quart stainless-steel stockpot, which is great for a larger batch. I go through a few quarts a week.

The recipe Beth linked looks good. I tried this bone broth recipe recently and it was great.

The taste really isn't too strong if you take it straight, and it'll take your cooking to a whole new level as part of a recipe. While letting it simmer for hours and hours, though, be prepared to live in a World of Savory - the smell is strong in my experience, at least in a small condo. Vegetarians in close proximity beware.

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