The easiest way to level up your cooking is to start incorporating stock into your everyday meals. Not only does it add additional nutrients (hello, collagen!) but body and flavor as well to your soups, grains, and sauces.
The best part of stock is that , with a little bit of forethought, it can be made for nearly free. Collect scraps over time (depending on how much you cook this could be anywhere from a a couple days to a couple of months) in the freezer until you are ready to make a large batch.
Remember a large batch takes just as long to simmer but lasts you longer in the pantry! Make as large a batch as you can!
Collagen and gelatin in meat stock provides a lucious mouthfeel to soups and sauces that their powdered counterpart cannot. .
Traditionally, stock is meant to gel when chilled which indicates a high collagen level, where as broth was thin and made with meat. Depending on a variety of factors like how much water you used, the meaty bones you use or if you’re making vegetarian stock, that may not happen!
It will be delicious and nutritious anyway!
- Meaty Bones or Shells – Chicken, Lamb, Rabbit, Duck, Beef, Pork, fish heads, shellfish etc.
- Scrappy Stock: Save the bones from 3-5 rotisserie chickens in the freezer
- Flavorful Vegetables – Mirepoix (Onion/Carrot/Celery), herbs, chilis, etc.
- Scrappy Stock: save the ends and peelings of your regular vegetables prep in the freezer, think – onions & their skins, garlic, roasted garlic, ginger, peppers, carrots, mushrooms stems, celery, beets
- Deglazing Liquid
- Wine, stock, or just plain water will all work!
- Cool Water
- Sheet Tray – to roast the bones
- Large Pot or Crock Pot- you need room enough for all of the ingredients PLUS water
- Spoon or Ladle to skim impurities
- Fine Mesh Sieve OR Colander
STEP 1: Roast Your Bones
Preheat the oven to 425°
Lay the meaty bones in a single layer across the sheet tray.
If raw, season as desired. At minimum, salt.
Red meat like beef and lamb are also delicious rubbed with tomato paste or miso paste before roasting.
If you are making vegetarian stock, you can roast your vegetables in the oven or skip to step 2!
If you are using a previously cooked protein, like a rotisserie chicken OR thanksgiving turkey carcass, you can skip this step!
Roast until they become golden to dark brown.
STEP 2: Prep your veg & flavorings
Mirepoix (Onion, Carrot, Celery) and a bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorn) are the traditional French or more plain place to start but don’t let that stop you. Anything flavorful can be included like soy sauce, miso, tomato paste, turmeric, ginger, dried chilis, vinegar and more. Let your imagination run wild.
Rinse, peel, or prep your vegetables to remove any debris or damaged pieces. Break larger vegetables down into 3-6″ pieces into large chunks Add your vegetables to the pot and set aside on the stove.
If you are making a vegetable stock, I recommend browning in the oven but you can also brown them in the stock pot on the stove.
STEP 3: Deglaze the Roasting Pan
When the bones have reached a golden brown color remove the pan from the oven and dump all of the bones and any juices into the pot on the stove.
Pour your deglazing liquid into the roasting pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with a sturdy spoon to get all the browned bits. Avoid any areas that look scorched. or ashy but include all shades of brown.
If the brown bits are not coming up, slide your roasting pan onto the stove and heat it back up. The hot liquid will help dissolve the stuck bits. This is easiest on a gas stove (as long as your pans can take it) and is trickier but not impossible on a glass top or coil cooktop. Just be careful not to scratch the glass and use hot pads!
When all the bits have come up, pour it into the stock pot.
STEP 4: Cover with Cool Water and Simmer
Cover all of the ingredients with cool water and bring the pot up to a simmer.
Allow this to slowly simmer and reduce for several hours.
- Chicken: 4-6 hours
- Beef, Veal, Lamb: 6-8 hours
- Fish: 30-45 minutes
- Vegetable: 1-2 hours
STEP 5: Strain
When the stock is done simmering you must remove, at minimum the largest pieces of meat, bones, and vegetable. all of the contents and cool it down. Because it has been cooking for a while though, the ingredients have broken down and created several floaties (sorry, I know…). These should be strained out through a fine mesh like cheesecloth over a sieve.
- Option #1 Using a slotted spoon or a spider, lift the large contents from the stock pot. Then pour through a colander or fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.
- This is my preferred method, less splatter and steam.
- Option # 2: Place a colander or fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth over another large pot or bowl and pour the stock over to strain.
- This works but can splash and spill.
- Option #3: Remove the larger contents and allow to cool and the smaller bits to settle. Once cool, ladle the stock off the top, leaving everything else at the bottom.
A Quick Note on Cooling Liquids Safely
Bacteria multiplies fast in the Temperature Danger Zone which means stock needs to be cooled or reheated for canning as soon as it has been strained.
Cooling a couple gallons of liquid quickly and safely in a home kitchen can be daunting but PLEASE NEVER add plain ice into the pot. You worked so hard to create this flavor masterpiece don’t dilute the flavor with freezer burn, okay? I won’t stop you from making chicken stock ice cubes for next time though, that’s just good thinking.
Instead, place your stock pot in the sink filled with ice and cold water. Stir the stock and replace the ice as needed to cool it down.
The stock needs to go from 135°- 41° in 6 hours or less to remain safe.
- 135°-70° in 2 hours
- 70°-41° in 4 hours
Read more about the Temperature Danger Zone here.
There are three main methods to storing stock. The first being in the refrigerator. This works great if you’ve made a small enough amount to use within a week.
If you’re making a larger batch than you can use within the week you’ll have to figure out long term storage. Freezing stock was our preferred storage method for years. Heavy duty plastic deli containers are easy to defrost with no worries about cracking glass, leaking corners of zip top bags and they come in many sizes so you can customize your options!
Over the years, we are worked to save our freezer space for local proteins which means we needed a way to make our stock shelf stable. Pressure canning requires special tools and a few extra steps but means that we can keep our stock safe to consume in our pantry, just like the grocery store.
Making stock is a souperpower that can elevate any dish!
By using a variety of fresh ingredients and taking the time to slowly simmer everything together, you can create a flavorful base that will take your soups, stews, and sauces to new heights. Plus, making stock at home is often more cost-effective and sustainable than purchasing pre-made options from the grocery store. With a bit of practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to master the art of stock making and impress your friends and family with your culinary creations. So next time you’re in the kitchen, consider whipping up a batch of homemade stock and see what delicious dishes you can create!
We love to see and hear about your adventures in the kitchen! Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram with @TheFryFarmette and #TheFryFarmette so we can cheer you on!