Preserving the Harvest - The Frugal Homestead

Making Broth on Your Woodstove

making broth from stewing hens
Stewing hens – I use the feet to make the stock richer.

Homemade Broth on the Wood Stove

Our wood stove really makes our house feel like a home. I love having the warmth in winter, plus it’s so nice to fill the tea kettle for hot drinks all day. We also cook on our wood stove quite a bit, reducing our energy bills and making me feel all homesteady inside. πŸ™‚

I decided to cook some beef broth on our wood stove recently. We had quite a few soup bones in the freezer from our last grass fed steer purchased from a local farmer. I loaded up my biggest pan with meaty bones, a package of stew meat, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and enough water to cover it all. I dropped in a couple of bay leaves and set the whole mess on top of our wood stove. In cold weather we like to keep a low to medium fire burning all day and then let it burn down to ashes overnight. This is the perfect way to cook your broth at a simmer to tenderize the meat and leach the minerals from the bones for a healthy stock.

I’ve read so many wonderful blog posts describing the health benefits of bone broth, so I won’t delve into that here. Let me just say that I love using as much of the animal as I can to provide a nutritious soup or stew for my family. It’s great to use the wood stove to reduce the environmental cost of cooking. And I really enjoy having a yummy bowl of vegetable beef soup for dinner while the weather is still cold and snowy.

After cooking the bones and meat all day, we cooled the stock pot in a snow drift on our deck for a couple of hours then refrigerated it for the rest of the night. In the morning I poured everything through a strainer and picked through the bones and meat.

I sorted everything into 3 piles: meat for our soup, bones for the chickens to pick, and fat/gristle. The meat was cut into smaller pieces and added back into the broth. The fat can be rendered into tallow and cracklings. The tallow should be poured through a strainer lined with cheese cloth or linen to remove the impurities. The cooled tallow may be used in beauty products or as an oil substitute in cooking. The cracklings can be fed to your dog or chickens. The broth and meat mixture was used in soup or frozen for later meals.

It’s so nice to have a few containers of beef and broth ready to thaw and use for a quick meal.

Do you make large batches of broth for canning or freezing?

18 Comments on “Making Broth on Your Woodstove

  1. I always save my bones for making broth now. I also save about half my egg shells for the same purpose (the other half get put into compost, or I use them to help them sharpen the blades in the disposal). Only problem is I don’t drink it as much as I ought, and I’m running out of room for storing my canning jars full of the stuff! I need to make some soup or enjoy some broth as a beverage before I make another batch. I’m getting quite good at it now though – thanks to the enamled cast iron stock pot I got for Christmas!

  2. I had no idea you had a wood stove. Wow. We’ve talked about having one, and that was our original plan but now I don’t know where we’d put it. Our house is sort of like an open cabin with a big great room. There isn’t much space to put one where it wouldn’t be a hazard. Do you find that it is hard to keep things clean when you use it? And does it tend to make the house smell woody?

    1. Yep! We had it installed in 2011 and have really enjoyed having it. Well, I think you learn pretty quick how to move around a wood stove, but if there were little kids around I would be concerned.

      I’m not a big fan of house cleaning to begin with πŸ˜‰ Mainly I notice that we end up with little bits of bark on the carpet. But I don’t see stains on the walls from smoke, a layer of ashes on furniture, or anything like that. I don’t notice that the house smells woody, but when there is a down draft because of the cold air we do get some smoke in the house. But then I’m used to all that because I grew up in a house heated with wood for most of my childhood. My parents just had a propane furnace installed a couple of years ago. So the smell of a wood stove just makes the place feel like home to me. πŸ™‚

      1. Our wood heater is not a true wood stove but rather a heater with an oven and cooking top available. We have a barrier around it as our kids are 4.5, 3.25 and 19m but they’ve learned not to touch it. Orik our littlest keeps trying to close the door if we have it open to load or clean so we need to watch if we’re chucking in more wood . Our daughter has learned that no fire doesn’t mean it’s cold. She leaned over and touched it sadly and ended up with blistered fingertips. Our eldest learned from her mistake. There’s no way I would try to bring about the hard lesson but it is one that once learned, stays learned.
        I’ve also not noticed much extra mess except as you say bark and such on the floor following the path to bring in the wood and also a little ash on the floor around the firebox but no more dust than normal on the shelves. πŸ˜‰

      2. Huh. Well maybe we’ll reconsider it. We were going to stick with the propane this year and see how we did. So far though we’ve had to refill it twice and that was a little more than expected for just the two of us living here. We do not have a wood lot, so we’d need to buy wood. Still I would imagine that would be less than the cost of the propane.

      3. Sorry to hear about your little one’s burned fingers, Rabid Little Hippy πŸ™ That’s a tough lesson to learn.

        Jenny, one of the things to consider is that propane is not renewable and we could have shortages eventually. The biggest reason we installed the wood stove is that our house runs entirely on electric and we didn’t want to be without heat in the winter if the power was out.

        We spent a lot less heating our house with wood than we would have spent on electric. We also have to buy firewood because we only have an acre and don’t want to cut down all of our trees!

      4. It was a tough lesson and I’m just grateful both my older kids learned from it and that they won’t need to repeat it. Fortunately it was just fingertips on 2 or 3 fingers and nothing more She comes up to our fire every time she’s lit now and tells me that it’s hot and that she won’t touch it so it is a firm lesson.

  3. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to fire up Ignisa, our wood stove to keep us all warm and make broths and boil the kettle. I too love reducing the environmental cost of cooking and making the most out of the heat. πŸ™‚ On our few cold days I have had saucepans on her heat but when the colder weather is here to stay I know I will have soups and broths on her top almost permanently. Getting the most from the animals we eat is the highest respect we can pay to an animal who has given its life for us. I’ve made chicken stock from the chockens we have harvested and I’m saving their feet to make a lovely gelatinous stock from them too. A little macabre but the stock should be wonderful. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi R.L. Hippy πŸ™‚
      I’ve read about using the feet for stock. I’m thinking that I need to start freezing them to try this. That will be fun, a bag of chicken feet in the freezer πŸ˜‰ I haven’t named our wood stove…what’s wrong with me?! Hmmm, Esmerelda? Lucy? How about Little Hottie πŸ˜‰

      1. I like Little Hottie! πŸ˜€ I have a habit of naming things. I loved choosing our kids names and the addiction had to be fed. πŸ˜‰ Ignisa is a twist on the Latin word ignire which is to ignite. Our house is Carvae – The Hollow, the chook pen is Pinnam Castrum – Feather Castle and my sourdough starter is Bertha just cos I liked it. πŸ˜‰
        The feet, being mostly cartilage and bone are full of gelatin. It makes a really thick gelling stock or so I’ve read. πŸ™‚

  4. I love having a big pot of broth on the stove. It makes me feel good not to waste parts of the animals we’re using and it makes our house feel warm and cozy. Now I just wish I had a wood stove, too! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Emily,
      Our homesteading wish lists are never ending, aren’t they πŸ˜‰ I’ve got some home raised chickens on the stove making broth as I write! Hope you get your stove someday πŸ™‚

  5. With just the hubs and me at home, I generally don’t do alot of canning any more — but I do love a good turkey soup! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Nancy,
      I understand completely πŸ™‚ I have trouble getting the energy together for canning these days too. But I’ll have to get some ambition scraped together for the summer bounty!

  6. Hi Rachel,
    I try to use everything πŸ™‚ Of course it is a bit time consuming. I’ve already used up quite a bit of that broth on home made soup. But I have more bones that should be boiled down for broth. So if the wood stove is in use again over the next couple of weeks, I hope to make some more.

    Canning would be ideal, but I haven’t had much time for that lately. It adds time to the process, even though I fill the pressure canner and then go about my business. But it always seems to take until late in the evening when I’m falling asleep!

  7. You use everything don’t you. I froze some broth a few months back, but I am out now. I keep telling myself I need to make more. I don’t like being out. πŸ™‚ I need to make more chicken broth too. I like having it around, but it sure doesn’t last long. I prefer to can it, though I have only done this one time. I like being able to use it immediately for recipes.

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