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Monday, September 12, 2011

Powdered Beef Stock - Making instant soup with homemade beef bouillon

I have been dehydrating veggies all summer, and the pantry is getting full, along with the downstairs fridge.  The nice thing about all the dehydrated veggies, is they make hiking and camping easy, and several family members like to take a prepared soup mix along to school, work and hunting.

Along with the veggies, I have also been dehydrating roast beef for soup stock.  Though the tomato powder can be used to make a veggie based soup stock, a nice veggie beef instant soup mix is a nice treat on a cold day at school. 

I use dehydrated roast beef instead of beef jerky, because it has a much better flavor when re-hydrated, and it also dries extra brittle, which makes it so much easier to grind into a powder.  I usually just use the left-overs from a roast beef dinner for dehydrating, but if having home-made powdered beef stock is something you use a lot, cooking a whole roast just for dehydrating can be done.

I like to cook my roast in a slow cooker, after searing the beef in a tablespoon of olive oil with salt, onions and garlic in a saute pan.  I usually put a few cups of water and a cup of red wine in the slow cooker with more onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook the beef until it can be pulled apart with a fork. 

Once the roast beef is done, I pull it apart, and layer it with kosher salt in a bowl and let it sit for about an hour, letting it cool in the fridge until it can be handled without getting burned.  I then place the beef in single layers on the dehydrator trays, sprinkle more kosher salt over the beef, and set the temperature at 165°F until the beef is very brittle.  I start checking the beef after 6 hours or so, but it can take 10 or more hours for all to be done.

After the beef is completely dried, I use my spice grinder to grind it into powder, but I do set aside a few little chunks for re-hydrating as pieces of beef in my instant cup of soup mix.

To make soup stock, the flavor intensity I like is 3 tablespoons of beef powder to 1 cup of boiling water.  This soup stock tastes just like the au-jus from the slow roaster.

To make my instant cup of soup mix, I put the following ingredients in a zip-close snack bag:

3 Tablespoons beef powder
1 Tablespoon tomato powder
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 teaspoon beef chunks
1 - 2 teaspoons dried carrots
1 -2 teaspoons dried sweet corn
1 teaspoon of chopped dried green beans
a pinch of salt and pepper - can also be added later to your own taste.

It is best to keep these little bags in the fridge, as it will keep for months longer this way, and then on a hiking or camping trip, they can be kept un-refrigerated for a few weeks.

To make a cup of soup, just put the mix in a thermos of a large coffee cup and add 1 cup of boiling water.  Cover the cup, or close the thermos, and the soup will be ready to eat in about 3 - 5 minutes.  The kids take the thermos to school, and have it as a quick snack between breakfast and lunch.

The nice thing about making your own instant soup mix is you can add what you like to the mix.  You can get tiny pasta stars to add to the soup, or add dried mushrooms or more onions for a different flavor broth.  Your soup mix is only limited by you soup imagination, so have some fun and experiment with your favorite flavors!

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