Stock is my principal tool when it comes to things ‘tasting pro’. It’s also a great tool for nourishing ourselves – one of the cheapest and most effective ways in fact and a must for the penny pinched kitchen.
“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!
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 a really beautiful dishes and soups and get deep nutrition in a super cost effective way. More incredible again, if you pay particular attention to your raw materials.
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 hours in a pot, I really don’t think it’s going to matter!
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?
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 – parsley / thyme / 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!
I roast knuckle bones first on 180C for an hour and soak the marrow bones in 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 addall 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!
I do large-ish white fish heads, 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.
Fish stock only needs a couple of hours to extract all the goodness from the bones and flavour.
Chicken I pop on after dinner and transfer to a super low oven just before bed, and then take out next day some time.
Beef I do a full 48 hours. The bones just keep on giving and it’s the best way to achieve maximum gelatin extraction.
So voila. If you wanted a more in depth article on the health benefits, the Weston A Price foundation has one here that’s excellent.
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. We make stock once every couple of months and in big quantities to make sure we’ve got plenty of go-to jars.
Real Food. Happy Bodies.
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!