It's easier than you think and the benefits keep us coming back for more
You've likely come across a recipe that calls for some type of stock; and if you didn't have stock on hand, you probably had to run to your local grocery store to pick some up. Save yourself the hassle by learning how to make your own stock and keep it in your fridge or freezer to prevent any last minute sprints to the supermarket.
Why Make Your Own Stock?
Why make your own stock from scratch when you can buy it? For starters, a store-bought stock is usually loaded with sodium and preservatives, which helps to prolong its shelf-life. When you make stock from scratch, you know exactly what's in it and you avoid any complex chemicals or extra salt.
Not only do you avoid the additives that come along with store-bought stock, but you also enjoy more efficient use of protein, improved digestion, and a small boost to your immune system.
The Many Uses For Stock
When most people think of stock, they tend to think of it as the main ingredient in soup. And while it's true that stock is the foundation of a great soup, it can also be used for:
- a sauce starter
- a braising liquid
- more flavorful rice/grains
- more delicious steamed vegetables
- a substitute for water in mashed potatoes
Making vegetable stock is probably the easiest type of stock because it's made with your leftover dinner scraps, and unlike a meat-based broth, vegetable broth doesn't require you to skim off any fat or grease while you make it. Best of all, it's the fastest type of stock to make.
There are endless options for different vegetable stock ingredients, but we recommend three main ingredients to give your vegetable stock that classic "broth" flavor:
If you have other leftover vegetables or herbs, feel free to toss them into your stock. We've heard many home chefs love using vegetable peels and herb stems too.
For a basic stock, simply toss some vegetable oil and garlic into an 8 QT Stock Pot oven with some heated vegetable oil until the garlic is browned. Then, add your vegetable scraps and water (about eight cups for every 2-3 cups of vegetables) and let simmer for about 45 minutes. You can also add some herbs at this time to really ramp up the flavor.
Pour into a storage container over a mesh strainer, then allow to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight bag or container and putting into the fridge or freezer.
For a more flavorful stock, it's time to bring on the meat.
With a beef stock, you'll want to start with meaty beef stock bones; these should have lots of marrow for the best flavor. In addition to about 4-5 pounds of bones, you'll want about a pound of chuck or flank steak meat cut into large cubes.
Other ingredients you'll want for the most basic beef stock recipe usually include:
- onions, carrots, and celery
- parsley and bay leaves
- olive oil
Start by roasting all the meat, bones, and veggies in the oven at about 400 degrees until they're browned. Then, add them to a stock pot over low heat, adding enough water to cover the ingredients by about one or two inches.
Let it simmer for three to six hours, but do not mix the stock during this time. Why? You need to let the fat rise to the top so that you can skim it off with a large spoon before straining into a container. Once you've strained, let your stock cool to room temperature and then store it in your fridge or freezer until you need it.
For homemade chicken stock, start with a rotisserie chicken from your favorite supermarket. Once you've enjoyed your meal, keep the bones/carcass and find some (or all) of these ingredients:
- carrots, onion, and celery
- bay leaves and parsley
Start by adding the vegetables and chicken carcass to a large stock pot, then fill the pot with just enough water to cover the ingredients by an inch or two. Next, bring the water to a boil and simmer the ingredients for several hours, taking time to skim off fat/foam from the top as it cooks. Strain your stock into a large container and let it cool to room temperature before portioning off and storing in your fridge or freezer.
If you have the time, making your own stock is pretty simple. Plus, you can always tweak these basic recipes to add your own favorite spices or use whatever is about to go bad in your fridge. With a little experimentation, you'll end up with a stock recipe that you love and won't need to make those last minute stock runs to the grocery store.