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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
How to Make Stock
I've discovered that making stock is cheaper and much tastier than buying stock or broth for cooking. Also, it doesn't have to cost anything to make, because you can make it from food scraps. This is more of a process than a recipe.

1) When you have leftover vegetables in small quantities, put them into one freezer container. This is also a good way to save extra vegetables if you won't use them otherwise before they go bad; just wash and cut them in chunks, then put them in the container. The types of vegetables will affect the flavor, but you can use pretty much anything that you would put into soup or stew: carrots, potatoes, peas, green beans, onions, celery, etc. When the container is full, that's enough to make stock -- about 2 cups or so.

2) Save poultry giblets in another freezer container until you have about 2 cups. Necks are best. You can cut off wing tips and tails for this, too. Hearts and gizzards are good. Livers are okay if you love liver, but they crumble and get into everything, so you might not want to use them for stock.

3) When you serve poultry, cut the legs and wings off, then slice the breast meat off. You'll have most of the carcass left with a few shreds of meat, and that's plenty for making stock. Leftover meat can also be used.

4) Other kinds of bones also work, such as a ham or lamb shank, neck bones, knuckle bones, etc. You can buy cheap stew meat and cut the bones and gristle out of it, eat the soft meat, and use the hard bits for making stock. You can mix bones from same or similar animals, like ham and pork neck bones, or lamb shank and goat stew meat gleanings, or turkey and chicken giblets; but don't mix totally different types like ham and chicken bones.

5) Put some vegetables and bones into a crock pot. Spice mildly -- I usually add 1 bay leaf, a few peppercorns, and a pinch or two of salt -- because you'll be using the stock for different recipes later that will have their own seasonings. Fill the crock with water to about 1 inch below the rim. Add a couple teaspoons of vinegar to help leach the calcium out of the bones into the liquid. Turn on LOW and ignore for 4-8 hours. Stir occasionally if you wish. If it looks like it's losing too much water, add a little more.

6) Ladle the liquid into containers for freezing. I usually use containers that are around the 2-cup size. Remember to LABEL them with the contents and date! Put the containers in the refrigerator first; that way you can skim the fat off the top if there is more of it than you want. (EDIT: Stock tends to turn gelatinous when cold. If yours gels like that, don't throw it out!) Then put the containers in the freezer. Discard the solids left in the crock pot.

7) Stock is a wonderful multipurpose cooking base. You can use it as the liquid in a crock pot for making a roast or a bird, or in the oven for basting same. You can thicken it into gravy. You can add fresh vegetables and meat for making soup or stew. You can cook noodles or dumplings in the stock. You can even heat it up to eat plain if you're sick and need something nutritious but easy to digest.

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7 comments or Leave a comment
From: browngirl Date: March 26th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and people: if the stock turns gelatinous in the fridge, you did it right. Don't discard it.

If I had a dollar for every time in the last 15 years I've seen someone on an online cooking forum lament how they tried to make stock but in the fridge it turned all nasty and gelatinous so they tossed it, I would be able to take a train trip to visit you, Y. It breaks my heart. (The waste of stock, not the prospective trip.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 26th, 2009 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you...

... for that reminder. I'll add it to the main post.

When I made turkey stock, it turned out gelatinous, and I didn't need to skim fat off it -- there was almost none. When I made chicken stock, it was thinner, though not as thin as broth, and I did need to spoon fat off the surface of some containers.
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: July 10th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
What's the volume of your crock pot? (That is, what's your water:scraps ratio?)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 10th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)


About 7 quarts; there are bigger ones, but not easily found. The carcass of a 10-12 lb turkey, stripped of meat, fits inside; or 2-3 chickens' worth of bones and scraps. I think I added most of a gallon of water last time. But really, I just fill it about half to 2/3 of the way with loosely packed bones, dump in some vegetables, and pour water to within 1/2 inch of the top. Last time I got 5 cartons of stock, probably about 2 1/2 cups per carton, so about 12-13 cups.
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: July 10th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

(nods) I've been doing scrap-stock (essentially the same approach you describe here) for the last year or so, but I'm never sure about ratios. Sounds like you're going about 6:1, which suggests I could be getting more stock out of my scraps than I do. Good to know.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I've been using ziplock bags for the stock out of habit, despite the fact that this makes it *much* harder to ladle out the stock. So, um, yeah. I should buy some stackable containers.

Or, um, use the ones I have. (Hides face.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 10th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

Bear in mind that the more bones you use, the stronger your product will be. Stock is very thick and gels when it cools. Broth is very thin and does not gel. When I made the turkey stock, it gelled. The first batch of chicken didn't gel (but it was still quite tasty). The most recent batch of chicken, I used more bones, and it thickened somewhat. I am okay with that randomness; some people might be more particular. Experimentation and observation are fine, if you pay attention so you can repeat things you like.

I definitely prefer stackable containers for freezing liquids. I use Ziploc disposable tubs when I can get them. Glad tubs are okay. Cheap ones are not -- I bought one batch of cheap tubs for spaghetti sauce and the lids wouldn't stay on. Those I threw away instead of reusing. Ziploc ones open and close easily, are secure, reasonably priced, and reusable for a while.

I use freezer baggies, usually Ziploc or Glad, for freezing fruit and sometimes other things. The last batch has a white patch on it so you can write the name of the item, very nice. I use sticky labels on the tubs so they can be reused.
lavenderfae9 From: lavenderfae9 Date: November 23rd, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
From "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, put two T. vinegar in the pot with the bones, water and vegetables, and let it stand 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking.

I also keep the bits that I trim off of vegetables, such as the tough outer skin of onions, in the freezer to add to the stock.

Edited at 2009-11-23 07:07 pm (UTC)
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