Bones for stock inquiry

Joined Dec 19, 2014
Hi :)

Started making stock a few years ago. Roast GF cow bones @400 for 1/2 hr, then put them into cool water, which I slowly bring to a boil, and then to a simmer for 24 hrs, then adding veg and herbs.

Sometimes, the stock comes out nice and gelatinous, and sometimes it is the consistency of water. The flavor and aroma are just about the same. Give or take a bit, I use the same amt of bones, water, veg and herbs, S&P each time.

Is this b/c there is collagen present in some bones, but not others? Here is a good ex of what I usually find in the bag I buy:


What specifically do I want to use, and how do I tell what is what?

Also, what is a good ration of bones to water?

Thanks in advance.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
FYI - all beef is naturally gluten free. So, if you're paying extra for "gluten free beef bones", you're probably paying more than you should.

My guess is that you're getting different types of bones in each bag that you buy. This could directly effect the outcome of the stock in terms of gelatin content.

For bone broth, you want bones that have a good amount of marrow and cartilage such as shanks, short ribs, knuckles, ox tails, neck bones etc. These bones contain a good amount of collagen that results in a gelatinous stock. A good shortcut is to add a few chicken wings/feet to the pot as they tend to be high in collagen and yet, small enough where they won't effect the flavor of the stock assuming beef broth/stock is your goal.

On the other hand, if you're using the same bones each time, factors such as simmer temperature, how long its simmered and the volume of water can impact the final product. If you're final product is not as gelatinous as you would like, simply return it to the pot and let it simmer and reduce a bit further. This will reduce the ratio of liquid to collagen and can make your stock more gelatinous.

In terms of the ratio between bones and water, I generally fill the pot with bones and aromatics and add enough water to cover the bones plus 1 inch.

Good luck! :)
Joined Aug 21, 2004
Looking at the picture of bones, those should be fine. It looks like a good mix, but I would recommend splitting the knuckles in half. Bones that have connective tissue, such as joints, will yield the most gelatin.

As to bone/water ratio. I never really pay attention, I just use enough water to cover by maybe an inch or so.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I like adding a split pig's foot for added gelatin in beef broth. My local Asian market always has them.
You can't taste it but it really helps. Of course if the stock isn't gelatinous enough after it is done, you can always add in some powdered gelatin.
I usually simmer until there is nothing but bone and everything else has dissolved.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
How long do you simmer? If you go for any length of time, how do you have any liquid left?
I gently simmer until the contents have given up everything they have in terms of flavor. This takes around 6 hours or so, depending on the amount of bones and aromatics. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, I just add more liquid. Once they've given up all their flavor, the contents are strained and gently reduced for another few hours until it reaches the desired concentration. I strain it again and then clarify it using egg whites and a bit of ground meat, usually beef and/or lamb. After its clarified, I decide whether I want to reduce it any further and make demi glace.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I know. GF = grass fed.

TY for the response.
Just so you know, grass fed beef is the rule, not the exception. The term "grass fed" is a marketing ploy used by the beef industry to attract more consumers and in many cases, its used as a marketing tool to increase the cost of beef per pound. The industry makes "grass fed" beef seem like its a specialty type beef when, in fact, grass fed beef represents more than 90% of all beef sold in the US.

If you take a drive through the top beef producing states in the US, you will see oceans of grass stretching as far as the eye can see dotted with happy beef cattle munching away on the grass. The only time most beef cattle may be fed grain products is when they're brought in to the feed lots just before they're sold in order to put on a few extra last-minute pounds.

The main reason why most beef cattle are grass fed is because grass is free. Grain is expensive to both produce and harvest. Thus, most ranchers do not use grain or as little of it as possible to feed their cattle herds, not to mention the fact that cattle don't do as well on grain feed as they do on grasses and legumes.

Grain fed beef is actually a specialty item that is not typically available in grocery stores, at least not in the US. This type of beef is generally available only through butcher shops and specialty vendors.

Cheers. :)
Joined Aug 13, 2019
I'm under the impression that most beef starts out pastured and at a little under a year is sent to the feed lot and fed corn, soy, grain till the size spec is met, then sent to slaughter. I like grass fed beef, but certain cuts seem to benefit from the grain. In the south we will pen animals before slaughter, especially wild ones, feed em corn and grain. Interesting conversation.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I'm under the impression that most beef starts out pastured and at a little under a year is sent to the feed lot and fed corn, soy, grain till the size spec is met, then sent to slaughter. I like grass fed beef, but certain cuts seem to benefit from the grain. In the south we will pen animals before slaughter, especially wild ones, feed em corn and grain. Interesting conversation.

That's partially correct. The cattle spend up to 24 months on pasture, depending on the breed. Some grow faster than others. However, the typical age range, depending on breed, is 12 to 22 months. This does not include veal, which are treated very differently, especially in terms of their feed.

When cattle are sent to feed lots just prior to sale, they are kept in the feed lot for anywhere from a few days to 14 days on average. During that time, the cattle are fed a high fat, hi protein feed, usually an extruded feed based on various grains in order to put on some quick last minute pounds.

Its also worthy to point out that these feed lots are typically quite large, depending on the size of the herd. I've seen feed lots that are upwards of 100 acres or more. I've heard of feed lots that are several hundred acres.

What most people don't factor in is the fact that given their 4 chambered stomachs, cattle do not do particularly well on diet comprised mostly of grain such as corn, not to mention the fact that corn is very expensive, as I already stated. The bottom line is feeding your cattle herd a diet of corn from weening to sale is cost prohibitive. Yes, they can eat it and digest it. But, the corn can ferment in their stomachs and that fermentation can make them very sick. This isn't to say that every cow that eats corn gets sick. But, when your business is raising cattle, any sick animal is a serious concern that ranchers are more than willing to go out of their way to avoid.

Like I said, grain fed cattle are the exception, not the rule in US cattle production.

There are some other interesting myths about the cattle industry that have morphed into "fact" because enough sources have repeated them over the years. But, I won't get into that here. :)

Joined Oct 10, 2005
Getting back to the stock making......

Bones themselves have very little gelatin, marrow bones being the worst. Anything with connective tissue like knuckles or joints are good. As others have said, you can boost the gelatin by adding split pigs feet—or calves feet roasted along with the bones. Turkey or chicken wing tips have a lot of gelatin as do chicken feet.
I like to make a remote ( remouillage) with my stock and use this to start off my next stock with.

One excellent book I can suggest is James Peterson’s “ sauces” where stock making is discussed in great detail.

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