Beef Stock

When we purchased our 1/2 cow they offered us bones for soup broth. We took them, of course (we’re cheap), but I never got the urge to make broth, so they have sat in the freezer for months. Last weekend I was going through the freezer to see how much meat we had left and I stumbled on a few packages of bones. I decided it was time to make broth. To my surprise, there was actually a lot of good meat still on the bones, so we ended up with 3 cups of shredded beef for J’s lunches as well.

Broth is one of the easiest things to make. Pour bones, vegetables, and water into a crock pot. Cook on low all day. Let cool overnight and skim off the fat. Done.

Crock-Pot Beef Broth
From Nom Nom Paleo

Ingredients

  • 3 packages (about 3 pounds) of beef bones
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (apple cider works well)
  • 3 garlic scapes (1/2-1 tbsp garlic powder would work too)
  • 2 cups misc. vegetables (carrots, celery, onions), diced
  • Water

Directions

  1. Place everything above, except the water, in the crockpot. Fill the crock-pot about 80% of the way with water. Place on low heat and hook for 8 hours (or longer).
  2. Remove the bones from the crockpot. If there is meat on the bones, take it off and shred it up for sandwiches.
  3. Push all the marrow out of the bones. This was absolutely disgusting, but necessary since the marrow has a lot of nutrients in it.
  4. With a whisk, mix up the mixture and dissolve the marrow.
  5. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a glass bowl. This will remove all the large pieces of vegetables or meat.
  6. Place the broth mixture in the refrigerator overnight. in the morning it will look like this:
    beef brothbeef broth (2)
  7. Skim off the fat and discard the fat.beef broth (3)
  8. Pour the remaining mixture into freezer bags and freeze until needed. We did quart bags since that is a common size we would need for a large batch of soup.
     

 

 

 

Bigger Wallet, Smaller Waist

Here are some website I have found with great tips on eating well while staying on budget:

  • Eat Well for $36/wk with some tips from You.Beauty! Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost much. It just takes a little planning and strategy.
  • I hate that I buy canned beans. Dry beans are so cheap and simple to prepare. The problem is that it feels like such a task to soak them ahead of time. I usually forget and need the beans NOW. Thankfully, Ella at Naturalla Ella as some helpful tips on how to freeze those beans so they are ready when you need them!
  • Whenever we make soup, we do it in the crock pot (why work if you don’t have to) and we make so much that we can freeze over half. This saves us time and money. The Kitchn has some great tips to “Freeze First, Eat Second.”
  • Looking to try canning this year? Old Fashioned Families has some great tips on how to prepare for and can produce from your garden!
  • More Ella I seriously LOVE her blog. She has some great tips on canning you should check out. We plan to use some of these recipes in late summer when our tomatoes and cucumbers are going crazy!
  • Have you ever thought about feeding your family with your garden, but weren’t sure where to start? Becky at Your Modern Family has a great post with tips to get you started
  • Oh Ella…did I mention I love this blog? Oh yes, just a minute ago. Well, this post is great too. It has tons of tips for homemade staples and how to stock your pantry.
  • Last, but certainly not least – Mavis. She blogs at One Hundred Dollars a Month (yes, it is what you are thinking – she feeds her family with $100/mo) and has more tips and tricks than you could ever imagine. If you are ever looking for fresh-from-the-garden recipes, tips and tricks for gardening, or ways to save money, this blog should be your first stop. She also raises chickens and travels all over, so there really is never a dull post.

Freezing Fresh Strawberries

Strawberry season is in full-swing here in WI. Last Saturday I braved the stormy weather and went strawberry picking and came home with 10 pounds of juicy, ripe strawberries. After giving a few pounds to my parents (and eating a pound or two myself…), I decided to freeze the rest to enjoy later this summer or fall.

Freezing fruit and vegetables is a little more work than you’d think. While you can throw all the fruit in a freezer bag and call it a day, I prefer to individually freeze my produce so it isn’t just one big clump. I wanted to share my method if any readers are wondering how to get frozen produce that you can portion out as needed.

fresh strawberries

Washing
After soaking the berries, Washing produce is always important, but when you are going to save it for the future, it is that much more important. All those bugs would love for us to forget this step, so they have a few months to slowly grow and  multiply. After a little research online I found the best method for berries is to soak them in a water-vinegar mixture for 30 minutes. The vinegar helps kill any mold that may be on the berries.

fresh strawberries (2)

First I filled 1/2 the sink with water and poured the berries in. I swished them around to clean them a bit and then cut the tops off. To keep them separate, I place the cut berries into a strainer. After cutting all the tops off I drained the water in the left sink and then refilled it with a water-vinegar solution (about 1/2 cup vinegar and just enough water so the berries would be covered. I rinsed the berries in the strainer and then dumped them back into the solution to soak for 30 minutes.

After soaking the berries, I drained the solution and rinsed the berries. I lined the strainer with paper towel and placed the berries in the strainer to dry. After about 15 minutes I dumped them onto kitchen towels to finish drying.

Freezing the Berries (or any other produce)
It is very important that the berries are dry before you freeze them – otherwise they will get icy. The key to freezing produce without it clumping together is to freeze it in 2 steps. First I line baking sheets with cling wrap. Next I individually place each strawberry onto the prepared pan. I am sure to not let any berries touch each other. Place the full pan in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until they are hard. Remove the berries from the freezer and then place them into freezer bags. If you’d like, you can stop at this part and just place the freezer bags of fruit into the freezer. The berries will not stick together, so you can pull out how ever many you need at a time.

If you think you’ll keep the berries in the freezer for more than a month or two, I like to “vacuum” seal them.

freezing strawberries 4freezing strawberries

freezing strawberries 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I place a straw into the freezer bag and close the bag as much as I can. I manually remove as much air as possible. Then I suck on the straw to pull out any air left in the bag. While sucking I press on the seal and remove the straw once the bag is sucked to the fruit. It takes a bit of practice, but after a few bags you get the hang of the process so you don’t let in any more air. This isn’t as good as the foodsaver vacuum sealer system, but it costs about 5 cents vs. $250.