Canned soup stock can be affordable, but even when labeled “low sodium,” may be packed with up to 17% of your daily recommended intake—in only eight ounces of liquid! While stock itself takes hours to simmer, your time investment is minimal in assembling the ingredients and then straining the finished product.
Stock is one of the backbones of cooking. At the most basic, it is used as a base for soup. Stocks can be the liquid put into stews, risotto, and sauces. When making grains, I’ll often use stock instead of water, which yields a richer tasting grain.
What Kind Of Stock?
Usual shelf facings of canned stock include chicken, beef, and vegetable, but the sky’s the limit when your creative wheels turn. I love making pork stock and onion stock. Fish stock adds finesse to a delicate sauce to accompany a fish dish. In a zany phase, I even made an apple stock to be used as the base of an autumn-inspired soup.
Basically, bones and vegetable scraps comprise a stock. Using chicken stock as a model, I collect two to three birds’ bones along with stockpiled peels of carrots, tops of onions and celery stalks, and stems of shiitake mushrooms as my base. I freeze these items as I accumulate them and once I amass the bones, I supplement the vegetable snippets with roughly-chopped onions, carrots, celery, and other vegetables. Avoid crucifers like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts as well as capsicums (a.k.a. peppers). Parsnips, tomatoes, parsley, and even apple cores are fair game. For a couple of carcasses, I’ll add about seven cups of vegetables, a dozen whole black peppercorns, and a couple of bay leaves into an eight to ten quart pot—and I’m almost done with my work! If a darker stock is desired, roast the bones (a necessary step for veal and pork) and add a “tomato product” like tomato puree, canned tomatoes, or tomato paste.
Cooking Your Stock
Once the ingredients are assembled in the stock pot, cover them with cold water. The concoction should be brought to a simmer over high heat, the “scum” (impurities in the bones) skimmed, and then the heat reduced so the simmer continues…for hours. Cooking time varies, but once all of the cartilage has dissolved, and the bones are no longer connected, the stock is done. I simmer my chicken stock for about eight hours, enjoying the amazing aromas it creates in the home.
The Final Step
Once the stock is done, strain the liquid and discard all of the solids. Use an ice bath to cool the pot of stock, then refrigerate or freeze. I let my stock sit in the fridge overnight where it becomes a tad gelatinous before I freeze it, so I can skim the fat from the top. Then I portion it in different-sized containers: quarts, pints, and even in ice cube trays, freezing it for up to six months.
Tell us in the comments: Do you make your own stock? Why or why not?