Salting bones for stock

So, we just went to a local restaurant that has a butcher counter. We bought some beef bones for making a brown beef stock, and the young hipster guy behind the counter proceeds to tell us how to make stock (we didn't ask--he clearly just assumed we didn't know how, which is a little annoying). He informed us that we needed to salt the bones before roasting. I thought this was odd, as I've never added salt to a stock. I don't have a prohibition against adding salt, but for me stock is a sort of umami-rich blank slate--I don't want to start out with something salty. I'd rather add salt to individual dishes as I see fit. Part of me thinks that this guy was just being a bro-chef, getting a kick out of telling us how to make stock and not quite getting it right, but then maybe I've been missing something. Is there a salt-adding stock-making cult with which I am unfamiliar? Is there a purpose to salting beef bones before roasting them for stock?



nancy E. January 22, 2015
I too never salt my stocks. I salt when I include them in a recipe.
creamtea January 22, 2015
Well, I'll go out on a limb and say that I add a little salt to the water for chicken soup made from raw, un-roasted chicken parts and vegetables....It seems to draw out the flavors. Not too much. But I don't think I'd do that prior to roasting followed by simmering; too liable to become over-concentrated.
Susan W. January 22, 2015
I agree. I season lightly with salt, or soy or fish sauce (tiny bit..not fishy in small amounts). I feel you can never go wrong with lightly seasoning a stock. Just brings out the flavors.
ChefJune January 22, 2015
I don't add salt to stock, because I want to salt the product I make WITH the stock. And I certainly wouldn't salt the bones before roasting them.
petitbleu January 22, 2015
Exactly. Salting the stock would mean starting out with an unknown quantity, whereas if you just don't salt the stock, then you know exactly what you're dealing with.
Susan W. January 21, 2015
Yup..hipster bro chef. I do use soy, salt or fish sauce to add umami and seasoning after I add the water, but my stock is not at all salty. It's just lightly seasoned an yummy. I sometimes do the tomato paste smeared on beef bones, but I forget half the time.
petitbleu January 22, 2015
Yummy fish sauce. I can get behind that. As I said above, it's not that I have a major problem with the idea of adding salt in any form to stock, but the instruction to salt the bones themselves before roasting seemed so specific and counter to everything I've done with or read about stock-making that I had to ask about it.
Susan W. January 22, 2015
I vaguely (very vaguely) remember something about drawing out impurities with the salting method. Or maybe soaking bones in salted water. I'm going to see what chef google says. Sounds like a wives tale to me.
petitbleu January 22, 2015
One theory we had was that perhaps this restaurant keeps all their large bones in salted water because they do a marrow dish, and whenever someone orders beef bones at the butcher counter, they grab the bones from the same pile as the bones for marrow. However, that seems far-fetched. And for stock-making the "drawing out impurities" idea sounds familiar but seems a little outdated. It makes sense if you're going to serve marrow bones, but not so much if you just want to make stock
HalfPint January 21, 2015
I've never heard or read of salting beef bones prior to roasting. Every recipe calls for adding the salt at the end, if at all. I would call BS on Bro Chef's salting advice.
petitbleu January 21, 2015
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that was a little odd ;)
HalfPint January 21, 2015
@petitbleu, additionally, wouldn't the salt inhibit browning since it would draw out moisture?
petitbleu January 22, 2015
@HalfPint--theoretically, I would think yes.
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 21, 2015
When you say Brown Beef Stock are you trying to make a brown beef bone stock? Doesn't brown beef stock usually include beef & veal? Most recipes call for some salt at the end of the process not while roasting the bones. Painted with tomato paste is common. I don't salt any of my stocks or broths unless I'm using right away for soup.
petitbleu January 21, 2015
Yes, brown beef stock=beef bones browned well in the oven, then the stock is made from those bones. Also yes on the tomato paste. My main question was whether or not there's some magical thing that happens when you salt bones before roasting them for stock, as I had never heard this before.
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