10 reasons to make your own stock

Stock is a kitchen tool that transcends the simple desire for things to taste better. While it definitely helps us achieve that, it is also packed with health benefits, financial savings benefits and sustainability benefits, helping us make the most of the animal and minimise kitchen waste. Seriously, stock will save the world and change your life! My auntie saw me making stock recently and said ‘your grandmother used to do that after every roast chicken’. That made me so happy and so sad about the profound and negative effect that the convenience message has had on our health and attitude to cooking for my mum’s / the baby boomer’s generation, and what’s now being passed on. However much campaigning I must do for stock to be brought back to regular practice, I’ll do it. So, without further ado, the campaign starts now.

“But stock is so laborious” Nope, it takes 2 minutes to set up, then it takes care of itself, with a bit of straining at the end.

“But I can get it easily from the supermarket” If you like msg, fake salt, GM ingredients and a whole host of other additives, then by all means! There are the store bought ones without the additives too, but they cost a fortune. They can be up to $10 for half a litre and still not even be very good quality. The easiest visual marker of quality is whether they’re jelly-like or not. The more jelly-like, the more gelatin, and that my friends is the holy stock grail for both flavour and health benefits! with a 12 hour chicken stock, you’ll yield 1 litre of dark, golden, jellied organic stock, for the cost of around $4.50 per litre, including electricity charges.

chicken stock

When you learn to make and commit to making a good stock, you are streets ahead of the average home cook. Your sauces, stews, soups… they’re all going to taste incredible. If you have it at hand, you use it. Having stock at hand means you can whip up really beautiful dishes and soups and get deep nutrition in a super cost effective way. You must pay attention to the raw materials here for the full potential of stock.

It is essential to use bones from ethical, organic animals that are pasture raised.  Cheap, factory farmed animal meat will not only mean an unethical stock, but it will also mean less minerals, antibiotic contamination, potential hormones and altered omega ratios, pushing the 6’s higher, and we don’t want any of that. So, you do need an awesome go to butcher. Mine is GRUB in Sydney, who deliver state wide. Do a little investigating and find yours. I can buy organic chicken carcasses for just $2.50 each and grass fed beef bones enough to make 20 jars of stock, for about $15.

Every time you roast a chook, keep the bones, pop them in the freezer and keep until you have 2 or 3 carcasses worth. I keep bones we’ve eaten from too – after 12-24 hours in a pot, I really don’t think it’s going to matter! Also keep veggie scraps from cutting onions and carrots for other things. The tips, skins and peels are great to add to stock. Waste not. Get clever. They build up quick and then it means buying less stuff to make a stock, as it’ll all be from leftovers, just as in the great restaurants the world over, who have a constant stock pot on the low flame, tossing kitchen scraps into it around the clock.

To get you over the line and excited about making stock from this day forth, here are 10 amazing health and sustainability benefits to making stock. 

1. It is packed with minerals from calcium to magnesium, sulphur to silicon, and things like glucosamine. Basically it contains all the stuff we’re told to buy in expensive synthetic mineral supplement form for joints and arthritis, except it’s cheap, natural food and very easily digested.

2. It is packed with gelatin, if made properly and simmered long enough. Gelatin supports skin and hair health, digestion, cellulite, tightens loose skin and is awesome for joint pain and inflammation. There’s a fabulous detailed gelatin post here, from the Wellness Mama.

3. It is singularly the cheapest nutrient dense food per cup. Bar none.

4. It makes your food taste like chef’s food, bring depth of flavour and richness to soups, stews, sauces, gravies and all that jazz!

5. It optimises digestion and Brillant Savarin knew this – am thinking this is why the French traditionally always start with a soup.

6. Fish stock is thought to prepare women for easy child birth – so that’s where I went wrong!

7. Fish stock is also fantastic for lazy thyroid issues, providing iodine!

8. Stock cures colds. Grandmas know this the world over!

9. Stock means when we’re done eating the meat around the bones, we use the bones for their goodness – Nothing going to waste!

10. Stock makes stuff taste good. Really, really good – Thought I’d remind you of that one!

So, how do you make it?

Chicken Stock

I just pop enough filtered water to cover the carcasses, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, then plop a carrot, celery (if I have it, otherwise leek or spring onion is fine), an onion, a little celtic sea salt and some herbs – handful parsley / 3-5 sprigs thyme / 1-2 bay leaf is the traditional bouquet garnis, but it’s not the end of the world if you only have one or two of these – hope my chef friends aren’t reading this! For truly gelatinous stock I highly recommend sourcing some chickens feet. In a large Le Creuset pot, I fit 3 carcasses and 4 organic chicken’s feet and only JUST enough water to cover it all with the veg and get the most awesome jelly stock.

Beef stock

I roast a good couple of kilos of knuckle bones first on 250C for an hour and soak the marrow bones (usually one big marrow bone sawn in a couple of spots by the butcher to fit into the pot) in filtered water enough to cover and 1/4 cup of  apple cider vinegar.  Then, once the roasted ones are done, I add them to the pot, top up more water to cover all bones, and then add all the veg / herb stuff listed above, times 2, because the beef batch is generally pretty big.  I have a big stock pot, to ensure I only need to do this 2-3 times a year. It’s the way forward!

Extra tip for the roasted beef knuckle tray – deglaze the tray the knuckles were cooked in with a little water and scrape off the crunchy bits and get it all into the pot – flavour, flavour, flavour!

Fish Stock

I do large-ish white fish heads that are really cheap from the markets (NOT oily fish like salmon / mackerel / sardine as it gives a horrible bitter taste), say 3-4 heads, filtered water to cover, a couple of tablespoons cider vinegar and all the veg above, but I usually add a fennel bulb for fish. Totally optional, just personally, I love the flavour.

Cooking times

Fish stock only needs an hour or two max to extract all the goodness from the bones and flavour. Any longer and it will go bitter so use a timer!

Chicken I pop on after dinner and transfer to a super low oven just before bed, and then take out firs thing in the morning. Otherwise 3-6 hours is fine but 12 max.

Beef I do a full 48 hours and often a second batch of another 24 hours that won’t be as gelatinous but will still have plenty of minerals with added apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup) to the pot. The French term for this is remouillage. (Re-wetting). The bones just keep on giving and it’s the best way to achieve maximum gelatin extraction on that first batch.

Beef Remouillage: A traditional stock technique perfect for the penny pinched, where you make a second stock with the beef bones, as 72 hours all up will continue to extract minerals and gelatine from the bones.  Once you’ve strained off your beef stock, you can add more filtered water and everything else as per beef stock recipe and simmer a further 24 hours. It’s a lighter, milder result but for nutrition and budgeting – just perfect to add nourishment to your next veggie soup!

STORAGE: I store by straining and pouring into glass jars, with a full inch empty from the top rim for expansion and the lid not screwed on too tightly – This way you avoid cracked glass. I’ve never had a problem with glass breaking if one doesn’t fill level too high. You can safely store for 6 months in the freezer. A solid layer of fat will form on top as the jars cool. That’s a good thing. Use it to cook with. They’re healthy fats and we make better use of fats than our water ways can!

STORAGE TIME: You can keep your stock in the fridge for up to two weeks before storing in the freezer. You MUST have a solid layer of fat set on top of the liquid to store in the frdige for longer than 5 days. It’s the fat that prevents the oxygenation / degradation of the liquid. If there’s not a solid layer of fat, freeze after 5 days. Always date your jar with texta / label so you can keep track.

A NOTE ON WATER: Filtered water is highly recommended. Heavy metals concentrate when water is boiled. Fluoride too, which contrary to popular belief, is quite toxic to us inside the body. Get a good system or large pot / jug that removes not only chlorine, bacteria and pesticides but also heavy metals. You will not regret it. The taste of the resulting water is awesome.

So voila. Get inspired. When you need to re heat roasted or pan fried meats, you can do it in a little stock on the pan to stop it drying. When you have panfried something, deglaze it (add liquid) with a ladle of stock for an instant jus. For something a little more exciting, add a little passata and cream to that, or mustard and cream, for a very quick panfried meat sauce.

If you want to try some recipes of mine using home made stock, try this delicious organic chicken dumpling soup , cracking cruciferous soup , 6 minute fish soup or the Luscious Sweet potato red lentil soup – All fabulous, easy and great for singles and families and all sugar free, dairy, nut and grain free!

Remember, to make stock a consistent and easy part of your routine, you must prepare it in big batches, not so often, so you don’t get put off by the process. You absolutely can do it and I can’t wait to hear of your successes. Something that tastes amazing and makes your hair, nails and skin glow AND saves the planet by minimising waste? Yes please!

Lastly, got questions? I’ve prepared an FAQ post on all things stock making over here! Enjoy.

Real Food. Happy Bodies.

Alexx x

 

Image credit: Sandy Sutton’s Design Blog for the feature image. I never cut my veggies that pretty for stock. They all just get plonked it!

 

Comments

  1. Melissa menzies says

    Thanks for this Alexx, definitely tempted to give it a try. You’ve opened my eyes up to the world of stock and some things I wasn’t aware of. X

    • alexxstuart says

      You’ll be super shocked by the difference Mel. Super delicious cooking headed your way! x

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Helen, we decant into glass jars, leaving a good inch at the top for the stock to swell a little as it freezes. THat way we have 300-500ml jars we can defrost as needed instead of big tubs or resorting to plastic. Ebay is a great place for a variety of jars if you’ve not got any. Enjoy the stock!

  2. Lee says

    Hi Alexx,
    I was wondering if you have every tried reducing your stock to make it more concentrate, thereby requiring less space for storage. Does this affect the quality at all?

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi there Lee, You can certainly reduce it to reduce storage. No issue at all. It will give a more intense flavour per cup though, so if you’ve made a really intense one, for recipes you could length 1/3 water to 2/3 stock :)

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Natasha,

      You can store meat stocks up to 5-6 months in the freezer, especially if the fat layer is present on top of the liquid, to protect from any freezer burn from the beginning. We make a big batch of beef and fish every 4 months or so and chicken more regularly. Such a beautiful, instant -delicious addition to the table.

  3. Morgan says

    Hi Alex, wondering how many chicken carcasses you use for your stock?
    Also any adjustments I would use if feeding my baby these stocks, he is just starting to eat.

    • alexxstuart says

      I do 4 at a time usually and make a few litres, but it’s entirely up to you. You could perhaps leave out any onion or garlic and do a mild on the digestive front for the bub, but having said that, no harm in seeing if a little goes ok, as long as they’re over 6 months old, as you might find they’re fine. I’d add a little coconut oil in too for immune function :)

      • Morgan says

        Thanks so much Alex! Just made some chicken stock and it made quite a few litres with only two carcasses. Silly question but was I supposed to have the lid on or off?

    • alexxstuart says

      I had a designer customer design a skin for my fabric theme. I wanted something unique. designs by Reese is her name if you want to check out her site.

  4. Brenda Matiu says

    Hi there Please tell me is there a certain amount of herbs you have to use or is this based on howmuch bones you use or to your own prefence and do you store finished product i fridge and if you freeze it how do you freeze the stock .I am so looking forward to cook homemade stock I appreciate your feedback Thankyou Alexx ,,Many blessings and so great to have your knowledge with food

  5. Brenda Matiu says

    Hi Alexx its Brenda matiu again i just read you have already answered a few of my questions thru your other comments I apologize for that however ive got to ask decant into glass what does that mean please and you can freeze this .
    Thank you Alexx

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Brenda – Put into glass jars but only fill up with a good inch from the top spare for expansion as it freezes. Freezer is fine. As long as there’s good room at the top, I’ve never experienced a crack personally. Enjoy and you’re very welcome. What’s your main language? I might be able to help if it’s French / Italian or SPanish :)

      • Brenda Matiu says

        Hi Alexx -I apologise for the late reply I am kiwi from New Zealand a Maori hence Matiu is a Maori name and in english it is Matthews but heyy Thankyou Alexx im all over the place with so many awesome receipe sites my Thermomix has introduced me too and i get tied up And your site i find very helpful indeed so truly inspired by your talents of cooking especially when Im changing my style of eating to more GF and spelt and so loving our change with organic eating,shopping So grateful to live in WA Perth where i would not be able to afford this in NZ and grateful to my beautiful husband who works away in the mines And i have the luxury of raising our 8yr son and I stay at home to meet beautiful people like yourself So thankyou again Alexx
        Many blessings and truly grateful for your Blog

  6. says

    what a great blog post! I love making my own stocks, not only for the health benefits, but because that way I know what I am eating. My sister sent me this link :)

  7. Wendy says

    Hi Alexx,

    Just read this article and very keen to try making my own stock. I am a bit nervous about leaving something cooking overnight, could you turn it off before bed & restart in the morning or could you use a slow cooker (I would be Ok with leaving that n for an extended period)??

    Wendy

    • alexxstuart says

      You definitely could turn it off before bed then on again in the morning. I’m such a ‘half frenchy’ when it comes to stuff like that. People keep stuff bubbling for days and no one bats an eyelid! :) Do whatever you feel comfortable with. With a slow cooker, I’d just check it wasn’t teflon coated fo PFOA contamination of your food, other than that, a great option.

  8. Lyn says

    Hi Alexx, I am really interested in trying your beef stock recipe especially as we raise our our beef and am expecting one back from the butcher next week. What bones do I use?We don’t usually get the bones back, (just the meat) so I’m not sure what to ask for. Marrow bones/knuckle bones? Will the butcher know what I’m talking about? Many thanks for your great blog. I’ve spied a few more recipes tonight I’m looking forward to trying. Thanks

    • alexxstuart says

      Yay Lyn – Wow, you have it right there and available to you, that’s great! Use a mix of knuckle and marrow bones as I mentioned and follow the oven / soaking instructions. The butcher will definitely know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to see what else you try. Drop me a note :)

  9. Leisa says

    This is probably going to sound dumb, but how do you make vegetable stock? All of the ingredients you listed less the animals?

    • alexxstuart says

      Not dumb at all. Because it was about health benefits from bones specifically, I didn’t include veggie stock. Basically do the chicken stock one minus the chicken bones and voila: Veggie stock! Although I often use left over veggie pulp from juicing and add an onion and some herbs to it if I make veggie stock. Just an hour is all that’s needed on the stove for veggie stock.

      • Kathleen says

        That’s a great idea for using up leftover veggie pulp from juices, i’m always looking for ways to use it. Just wondering if you think boiling the veggies for an hour will just destroy the water-soluble nutrients though?

        • alexxstuart says

          Thanks. I have an article on leftover pulp too with tips :-) There will still be a great vitamin content in the water, not to mention the flavours. Much better that wasting the pulp and just using water to add to soup :-)

  10. Mel C says

    Hi
    I was wondering if you could ‘can’ these? I don’t have a lot of freezer room so was hoping to can these into glass jars as you would tomato sauce?

    thx :)

    • alexxstuart says

      I’m afraid I’m no authority on canning at all. I’d suggest looking up a couple of google searches for others who’ve done it. Meat products of all kinds are canned, so I can’t see why this wouldn’t be able to be :)

  11. Erica. S says

    Great post thankyou! I currently make chicken stock, but next time I might collect a few carcasses first for a bigger batch and also simmer it longer than my current 3-4 hours.
    I’m going to try the beef stock next now that I have found my own organic and free range butchery close by!
    Do you think it would it also be successful with bones of a leg of lamb or the bone from a roast beef?

    • alexxstuart says

      You’re super welcome! Absolutely. All roasting bones should be saved on used to make a broth the next day for a veggie soup :-)

    • alexxstuart says

      Doesn’t matter one bit Rebecca. Although with beef, if you roast the knuckle bones as suggested before putting the stock on, then you’ll get a richer more delicious result :)

  12. Georgina Coulson says

    Hi Alexx, your friend QuirkyJo pointed me in your direction. I have a 2.5yo special needs boy who is below the 3rd percentile in weight. He has been tracking this weight range since birth and not uncommon for children with his chromosomal deletion. He developed hypoglycaemia at 18 months and has had several hospital admissions with Low BSL. We try to manage this through diet and regular feeds but he has just reached the “tricky fussy toddler stage”, refusing all veg, many fruits and carbs. Another friend suggested using broths to nourish his gut and provide essential nutrients. She used to syringe broth into her boy when he was unwell and not eating well. Would desperately love to hear your thoughts as I am going out of my mind with worry.

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Georgina,
      How lucky is your little man to have a detective mummy who thinks outside the box!!I’m not a naturopath nor health professional, so my advice comes from one mum to another, with this mum (me) having read loads and loads and being a professed geek. If he’s hypoglycaemic it seems logically that in the diet, you need to worth to provide the most nutrient dense food possible – healthy fats such as organic ghee, butter, coconut oil. Seems also removing grains and sugar (including dried fruit_) from the diet would help start to heal his blood sugar challenges. Can you see an experienced naturopath or bio medical doctor? The Mindd FOundation resource is incredible for finding practitioners and doctors who use deep nutritional and supplement therapy to heal a range of infant challenges. Broth would be amazing. If it’s a volume issue with the liquid, boil it down and make a more concentrated one so he gets more nutrients in less ‘drinking’. You could also use the concentrate to boil veggies in or cook meat like sausages or fillets in, so that there’s extra nourishment. Long, slow burning energy is wonderful stuff. Do look up an alternative practitioner and check out mindd foundation. Sound like you could do with the support of someone to guide you with your best interests at heart. Check back in, ok? xx

  13. Em :-) says

    Hi Alexx,

    I have recently made the beef stock following your recipe, strained, bottled and put into the freezer. (it is delicious by the way…. makes the best gravy!) I was just wondering if you skim the top of the stock as it cooks or at the end to remove the excess fat??? As all of the bottles that i have in the freezer have about 2-3cm of fat on top. I thought probably best not to eat that…..I know it is good to eat certain fats but was thinking this was not it…… your thoughts???

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Em, You don’t have to toss the beef fat, no. If you’ve used organic, grass fed bones, then it’s amazing. omega 3 rich fat that’s super good for you. Keep it to the side and use to fry onions when doing soups, stews or casseroles down the track, or even for making home made hand cut oven fried chips with sweet potato or potato. Fabulous for that too! :)

  14. Zoe Vayanos says

    Hi Alexx,
    Thanks for the post. I can practically smell the simmering, stock pot through my screen!! Out of interest, how do you filter your water and what are you aiming to filter out?

    • alexxstuart says

      I’ve got 2 chook carcasses and 6 chicken’s feet going with loads of veggies right now since last night! House does indeed smell amazing :-) I use the Ace Pot filter, which filters all heavy metals, fluoride, pesticides, chlorine and random lurgies. Heavy metals concentrate on heating / boiling, so we don’t want that happening with something we’re cooking for 12+ hours, no way :-)

  15. Cathie says

    Made chicken stock overnight – looks awesome….but….I think I had the oven at an unsafe food temperature. I had it at 40 degrees….I have such a great oven and as you say put the temp at super low I put it at the lowest not thinking!! Oh well I will try again tonight! I am making it for a friend with breast cancer to give her some beautiful goodness. Great site alexx

  16. Craig says

    I”m wondering if you could let the stock cool a bit and keep in the freezer in zip lock bags – 1 cup at a time?? Seems a really practical way of storing it.

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Craig – You could, but dioxin can leach from plastic to varying degrees as well as BPA, still used in most freezer bags. That information is what made me switch to glass a couple of years ago :)

  17. Alicia Mc says

    Hi Alexx, loving your seafood recipes and have started making my own fish stock as I’ve heard its the best… quick question tho, not sure if its ok to use fish heads and bones from fish that have been cooked?
    lately i have been buying a lot of whole snapper and steaming on the bbq with fresh herbs in a parchment paper parcel), do you know if its ok to use these heads and bones from the cooked fish? it breaks my heart to chuck them away!
    thanks xx

    • alexxstuart says

      oops. thought I’d replied Alicia. Sorry! Absolutely you can use cooked fish bones / heads. Gives a richer flavour too so I love to. Waste not want not! Boil away and enjoy x

  18. leisa says

    bones in the oven now… can not wait to make this! made my own broth once before and I make stock in my thermomix- this will take it to the next level.

    Thanks Alexx and thanks to Colette at COTC for the link to your blog x

    • alexxstuart says

      You’re super welcome. You’ll love it. Such amazing flavour when beef stock is done properly! :-)

  19. Amy says

    what is the best way to use broths? Can I use them in place of regular stock for risottos ? add to bolognaise sauce? ?what else ?

    • alexxstuart says

      Amy, hi! That is exactly what you use it for. Soup, stew and sauce base as well as enjoying as a ‘snack’ in a cup with a pinch of sea salt as a general body tonic. It is my number 1 recommendation for a healthy home staple because it provides us with so much of what we lack in the modern world – minerals, gelatin namely.

  20. Belinda says

    Great post!
    I cannot source any chicken feet here in Tasmania, even though we have Nichols Poultry (free range but not ‘organic’). If anyone knows of someone who can supply locally i’d really appreciate it!

    • Belinda says

      scrap that, I can get feet. But I need to order 6kg worth :( where the heck would I put all those feet. I guess I’ll just stick to carcases :)

  21. Tracy says

    Hi Alex – I have been using organic chicken feet in my bone broth and have been cutting the toe/toe nails off which is time consuming… Do I need to do this or it is OK that that part goes in? Creeps me out a bit as they are so ugly :) I was just using carcass and got no gel but I now get really good gel everytime. Thanks Tracy

  22. says

    Hi Alex I’m new to all this but I have taken your advice and made some chicken broth (just read now about the organic – darn! Will do better next time). I see that people drink the broth daily for optimal results, which I need as I seem to have fibromyalga (I’m not convinced) but how would you do this? Mine is like jelly and although it tasted nice while reducing, now it is really potent! I don’t have a gall bladder so it’s VERY rich and I’m not sure how I would drink a whole cup. Please help me out.

    • alexxstuart says

      Hi Lisa, Christine Chronau has just launched a gall bladder e book with tips on what to do for nourishment / with fats without a gallbladder. Could be a good one for you to read at this point? As for the stock, I’d chill in jar in fridge and skim the fat off before reheating and then if you think it’s too rich for you, add water and sea salt to taste and enjoy after a couple of minutes on the stove :-)