stock bones from half beef

liz_hJune 18, 2013

I'm writing up my cut sheet for a half beef. I want the bones for stock, and have no idea how many pounds that will be. The only bone-in cuts will be spare ribs, rib-eye steaks, and porterhouse / T-bone steaks. Any idea how many bones will be left after the beef is cut?

For each batch of stock, I think a mix of marrow bones, other bones, and beef scraps would be best. Should I have the beef scraps packed separately? There might be some freezer burn if packed with the bones. If I have the freezer space to delay stock making I'd rather wait until fall for most of it.

A package of 6 to 7 pounds should work well in a roaster oven. (I'll buy either 18qt or 22qt.)

I presume it's reasonable to ask the butcher to mix the bone types in each package. We haven't worked with this man before, but he now does the processing for the farmer who raised the cow.

Any other thoughts or suggestions? This is our 2nd half beef, but the first time I'll be getting the bones.

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liz, I've always just asked for "soup bones" and that's how everything comes labeled, whether they are actually marrow bones, knuckle bones, the very bottom of the shank portions, neck bones, whatever. The processors usually cut the bones into pieces that avoid sharp edges that might perforate the shrink wrapped packages, so they don't have to reprocess. When I tell them I make stock from the bones, they gladly leave some meat on them as it is less work than trying to remove it all (or mostly) so I don't have to add the beef scraps, they're already there.

I tell them to limit the bones to no more than 35 or 40 pounds, that gives me 6 or 7 good batches of stock, but there are a lot more bones than that in half a beef. If I take only the best, I don't get things like the big joint in the shoulder, parts that are unwieldy and large. There are a lot more than 35 pounds of bones in half a cow, though, even if you keep the short ribs and the porterhouse.

You might also consider asking for the heart and tongue to add to your stock, and don't forget the tail.

I found this website, it might help answer some of your questions. It says 146 pounds of bone, fat and waste from an 1100+ lb. lean steer. If it's very lean, there might be 20 or 25 pounds of fat trim and waste (sinew, ligaments, etc) leaving you with 120 pounds of bones, or 60 pounds in half a beef. That might be a generous assessment, but I'd figure at least 50 pounds if you take them all.


Here is a link that might be useful: Ask the Meatman

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 1:14AM
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Thanks, Annie. That's just what I need to know.

The last time we did this, I told DH I wanted all the bones for stock. The butcher wrote down soup bones, and I got two little packages!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 4:16PM
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I just spoke with the butcher we're using this time. He was very helpful, and amenable to whatever I want. A nice change from the processor we used last time. :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 5:06PM
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It sure helps when you have a processor that is helpful and friendly, isn't it?

I'd be furious if I only got a couple of packages of soup bones out of an entire side of beef, geez. Of course I'm appalled every time I see a "soup bone" at the store that doesn't have a scrap of beef on it, that's not a soup bone, it's just a bone!


    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 12:36AM
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When I get large bones, I freeze them and I can cut them into smaller pieces on my table saw.

Quick and not too much mess in my shop.


This post was edited by dcarch on Fri, Jun 21, 13 at 7:20

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:19AM
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That works if you're buying bones, dcarch, but my processor will cut them into manageable pieces for me at no extra charge, so I don't have to do the work AND it costs no more money. Double bonus, plus they stay nicely sealed/shrink wrapped in usable portions so I can keep them longer without having to repackage.

I do remember when the butcher would sell a femur or whatever as "dog bones", and wrap them in white paper. They were cheap, but you had to cut them up yourself to fit into the soup pot. We used the band saw.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 12:37PM
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We go to a meat processor for large dog bones (for our very large dogs) and he gives us a huge box of beef bones for $5.00. Since we only use the leg bones full of marrow for the dogs, I boil down the rest for marrow broth. I use my Nesco cooker and simmer them for 36 hours. I get wonderful rich broth that I use in all sorts of dishes.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:23AM
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