Stock Making

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stock: liquid in which meat, fish, or vegetables have been simmered that is used as a basis for soup, gravy, or sauce

Process

  • Cover a pot of bones with cold water
  • Bring to a boil
  • Skim as much of the gnarly foam as possible off the top
  • Add cut up aromatic vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, fennel, leeks, herbs)
  • Reduce to a simmer and continue to skim as needed
  • The heartier the bones, the longer they will need to simmer. On average I let chicken bones go 4-8 hours, beef/pork 6-12. Fish and Vegetable broths do not need to simmer more than 30 minutes—the longer they cook the muddier the flavor will be.
  • Remove the bones and vegetables and then strain
  • Allow to cool and then refrigerate or freeze as appropriate

Things to know

  • Start with cold water, as it slowly comes to temperature more of the grossness will be pulled from the bones, making scum
  • Skim that scum diligently—these two behaviors will yield clearer broth
  • For a brown stock, roast the bones in an oven until rich, golden brown. The caramelization on the bones will dissolve into the broth making it darker in color and flavor.
  • You can make bone broth by simply omitting the vegetables. (Read: don’t throw away your bones just because you don’t have a stash of aromatic vegetables.)
  • Save up old, random bones in your freezer and then do one big batch of stock. (Read: please don’t throw your bones away ever.)
  • If your stock is particularly gelatinous, that is a good sign, means more collagen and gelatin have been leached from the bones.

Hallmarks of Success

  • Flavorful broth
  • Relatively clear liquid
  • Liquid so filled with collagen that it is jello-y in texture
  • No wasted bones or vegetables scraps in your trash can

Trouble Shooting

  • Cloudy stock usually means it wasn’t skimmed properly or was cooked at too rough a boil. The action of the heavy boiling pulls the impurities back into the liquid making it cloudy
  • Flavorless stock usually means it wasn’t boiled long enough to extract all the flavor from the inputs. To test, taste the meat. If it tastes bland the flavor has been pulled from it and is in the liquid.
  • Bitterness can mean that if you roasted the bones or vegetables they probably roasted too long and have some burnt bitterness.