The Best Homemade Stock You’ll Ever Make

Trust me. Making stock is not only effortless, it is far more delicious and nutritious than anything you can possibly buy. In less than 5 minutes you can have a stock underway, one that will pull more than its weight beyond a mere soup base. A well-made stock is the key to tasty sauces and gravies. It can be both the foundation and byproduct of cooking beans and whole grains, a secret ingredient used by upscale restaurants, and always found in my Thanksgiving stuffing. For centuries, the nutrient-dense elixir has pulled families through famine and restored thousands from illness.  Today, stock is on the short list of recommended foods for cancer patients for its retention of minerals and vitamins otherwise lost to other cooking methods.

For Step-by-Step instructions on making homemade stock from see link below

What is stock, again? Stock is made using water to extract flavor and nutrients from bones and vegetables, which are strained from the finished product. The emphasis here is bones, which impart protein and natural gelatin, adding minerals, deep flavor, color and body to the liquid. Use bones from poultry, pork, beef, seafood, and crustacean shells, ideally raised organically to avoid antibiotics (choose sustainable wild caught seafood from cold waters).  Broth, often confused with stock, is more about using some source of meat, poultry, etc. with or without bones, along with vegetables, some or all of which may then be strained and used for other purposes.

How do I make it? Toss cut vegetables with their peelings & trimmings, herbs, leafy greens – even lettuce – into an oven-proof pot. Use up waning produce and roasted vegetable leftovers for more flavor and nutrients. Add your choice of bones and fill the pot with 4 – 6 cups of water or up to 1” over the top of the ingredients.  Put your uncovered pot in the oven preheated at 180 – 200 degrees, for 2 – 3 hours (if using chicken or fish bones), and 8 hours if using beef bones.  Denser bones need longer time and vegetables only need an hour or two when used alone. So, if using beef bones add your vegetables within the last 2 hours for best results.

There are no strict rules, so use what you have on hand. Traditionally onions and carrots are used for sweetness; tomatoes (paste, puree) for color; garlic for sweetness and flavor; peppercorns for spiciness; bay leaf and celery for savory depth. You can still make a delicious and healthful stock with only onions and their papery skins, trimmed roots and chicken pieces with bones and without effort.

Cool, strain, and chill the finished stock.  You can remove any congealed fat for long term storage or leave it on for short term use as a protective cover in the fridge. Store stock in small airtight containers in the freezer, or reduce the volume further through evaporation on the stove top and make concentrated ice cubes. Chef Michael Ruhlman recommends to NOT add salt to the stock, and not heat over simmer or the results may become cloudy (hence the low temperature oven). Agitating the ingredients will break apart the vegetables and you’ll lose the stock that these fragments have absorbed when you strain them out.

Why do I want to make it? You’ve paid for the meat and produce so why not use it all? Rather than add this unutilized bounty to landfills, take a tip from upscale restaurants that routinely make stock each day to draw from for their amazing sauces. It is also an economical use of valuable full-flavored scraps, the likes of which cannot be purchased in commercial flavor bases. Plus, the best commercial bouillon or flavor bases don’t contain the gelatin or minerals from bones which contributes nutrients and rich flavor. And count on lots of sodium from commercial products, something we don’t want in our food.

Give me more reasons. Food scraps can be packed with nutrients as well as a surprising amount of flavor.  See this link for useful tips. Your food waste add up: A family of four loses an estimated $1,600 per year on wasted food, almost 20 pounds per person per month in the United States. More surprising findings:  “Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.” If nothing else, consider the money spent on supplements meant to replace the nutrients thrown away each meal.


For those who prefer step by step instructions, here’s an alternative method on the stove top. Take advantage of seasonal produce for higher nutritional content (choose organic produce as much as possible to limit pesticide exposure). Fall offers choices of late summer and early winter produce with high antioxidant content including cabbage, root vegetables, broccoli, dark leafy greens, squashes, onions, and garlic – all of which are beneficial for disease avoidance.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Deb G on October 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I love to use stock for different recipes including juicing up brown rice when I make it. This recipe seems so easy and better than boxed which is what I tend to use now. Thanks for sharing Joy! Hope all is well with you…..


  2. Posted by Lois Szydlowski on October 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Very informative Joy..and I too am guilty for throwing away a lot of “stock” ingredients especially since we don’t compost…they go down the garbage disposal, which does sweeten the sewage…so that’s not such a bad thing!…I have only made beef stock in the oven once…I usually make the traditional chicken stock for soup on top of the range…and frankly, unlike the restaurant chefs, if my stock is cloudy, no one cares around my house, including me.


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