Weekend Project: Make Your Own Stock

by in Healthy Recipes, April 17, 2009

One must-have for any home cook is a healthy stock. Yes, there are the canned and boxed kinds, but save some money and control the sodium by doing it yourself. Spend a few hours this weekend creating one that you can keep for months.

Stock vs. Broth
Okay, first things first — to clarify: broth is made using the meat (i.e. chicken and shellfish), while stock uses the bones (or veggie scraps), which gives off a richer flavor and mouthfeel due to the gelatin released during cooking.

To prep a stock, you cook up water, bones, herbs, spices and a regular or white mirepoix. Mirepoix? That’s a combo of onions, carrots and celery (sometimes leeks or tomatoes); a white mirepoix uses onions, fennel, leeks and celery. You may also hear about brown stocks, which are created by browning the bones first.

Types of Stocks
All stocks have the same basic idea — you start with a mixture of veggies, bones, seasonings and water, then boil and simmer for several hours and presto! You have a delicious liquid good for making soups, stews and sauces.

If you’re a stock beginner, using chicken bones to make a chicken stock is a good start. Foodnetwork.com has a helpful video for making a basic chicken stock.

Veal and beef stocks are also flavorful options. If meat’s not your thing, try fish or veggie stock, made with various herbs, spices and sometimes wine.

After simmering, always strain the stock and remove the fat by skimming the top; refrigerating causes the fat to coagulate on top. By skimming the fat, you create a virtually fat- and calorie-free liquid. One cup of stock ranges from 0-40 calories.

    Stock Making Tips
    Here are other basic things to keep in mind:

  • Remove excess fat from the bones before using them.
  • Make sure to bring your pot to a rapid boil; then lower the heat and simmer.
  • Occasionally skim the impurities that rise to the surface with a ladle or skimmer.
  • Cool stock properly.
  • Divide the stock and freeze half for a later date (up to 3 months).

Uses for Stocks
We could be here all day answering this one. You can use it in soups, stews, sauces or for cooking roasts. This flavored brew also works when prepping rice, pasta, buckwheat and other grains.

TELL US: What’s your secret to good stock making?

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Comments (20)

  1. Charlotte says:

    I started making homemade stock last fall, and have never gone back to boxed. We eat whole roasted chicken regularly, and I realized I was throwing away a lot of carcasses. Now I freeze the carcass (and the neck if it’s included) and throw in whatever stock veggies I have on hand (it’s also a great way to use veggies that are a little past their prime.) Add some whole peppercorns and bay leaves – it’s so much better than store-bought.

  2. Lucy B. says:

    Oven roasting the onion, celery, garlic, carrots etc. in a small amount of olive oil or canola oil until they’ve begun to caramelize, before adding them to the bones, meat and liquid, adds another dimension of flavor to the stock that is well worth the effort. It also adds a beautiful rich color. (I halve or quarter the onions and roast with their brown skins on.)

  3. amanda says:

    this sounds great! how should the stock be stored if you want to keep it long term?

  4. Toby Amidor says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Make sure to first cool the stock down by placing it in smaller containers and possibly an ice bath. You can then place the stock in freezer-safe containers (the label will indicate) and the stock can be stored for up to 3 months. Enjoy your stock!

  5. Wanda Roland says:

    Your article states that broth is made using meat and stock uses bones. So are you saying that the store bought vegetable broth actually have meat in it although some of them only list the vegetables? Are there any other difference?

  6. Toby Amidor says:

    Hi Wanda,
    Store bought veggie broth is only made of veggies (as you mentioned, the ingredient list confirms that). The main difference between a chicken, beef or shellfish broth is that it’s made using the meat as opposed to the bones as is done in a stock. Both are a good way to add flavor to many dishes without many calories–it’s just more fun for me when I make my own stock using my favorite veggies at home.

  7. Cynthia Norton says:

    I keep ALL glass jars (from mayo, pickle relish, olives, jams, salsa, dips, etc.), clean them well, and save them so I can use them to freeze the stock I make. That way, I can defrost the stock easily in the microwave (as opposed to plastic containers, which may leach chemicals into the stock) and I have stock in different amounts for different uses depending on the size of the jars. Plus, I am not throwing away jars but always recycling!

  8. Sue says:

    I make my stock (chicken necks are the best part for chicken stock), refrigerate overnight, then when cold, skim off the fat and divide. Some goes into ice cube trays for quick and easy use in sauces or vegetables, and some into ziplock freezer bags. I label the bag (ie: 1 c or 2 c and if it is salt-free, along with the date) then place it flat in a cake pan to freeze-just in case it leaks! Once frozen, you can remove from pan and store standing upright in a box (think of a file cabinet). I always try to have beef, chicken or turkey, vegetable, and seafood available. A few cubes can make all the difference in the flavor of your dish. Tastier and so much more flavorful than a can or (accckkkk) a bullion cube, made of mostly sodium.

  9. Pat C says:

    As other posters have noted, I keep home made stocks/broth in my freezer as I use them for all kinds of dishes. Some vegetable broths should be mild. But when I want deeper flavor and color, I will roast the veggies in the oven first tossed with some good olive oil. And I don’t peel the vegetables; just wash and pat dry.

  10. Oscar says:

    I hear too many stocks, but none of them talking abou fish stock, well I guess that many people do not that it is coming from the head and tail fish,

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