So why make your own when it’s readily available in stores? To me it’s obvious…you have control over the ingredients and length of simmering time.
In the old days, people always had a big pot of stock simmering on the wood stove. Not only was it a way to use up left overs, helping to stretch the budget but most importantly it offered a simple nutritious meal. The cooks in those days didn’t waste. They would use the bones, hoofs, antlers and any other part of the animal they could glean gelatin from. Gelatin is important to healthy joints, nails, hair etc. Here’s a tip to get more gelatin and other goodies like calcium, magnesium, and potassium to leach from the bones into your simmering stock…add a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar (not white vinegar which is a petroleum product). White wine, red wine or cider vinegar are OK as well as wine. Just a TBSP to 1/2 cup is enough depending on the size of your batch. Meat stocks should simmer for many hours (12 to 48) to produce a gelatinous stock. When the stock is cool, it should be wobbly like jelly. Gelatin is also known to aid digestion and allows the body to more fully utilize complete proteins. Other stocks like veggie and fish stocks simmer just a couple of hours. I don’t salt my stock as I can salt the dish I’m using it in later.
Stock should be simply, bones, carrots, celery, onions (maybe tomatoes and mushrooms), peppercorns, herbs and water. All the other junk that is added to many store-bought stocks is totally unnecessary.
Still not convinced? Here’s a story that might shock you! In fine restaurants, you would think a good stock would be a must in soups and sauces, mainly because of the taste it imparts. BUT DINER BEWARE! Many restaurants use commercial canned or concentrated stocks, which are usually very salty and contain preservatives. We had a shock when dining in a Seattle seafood restaurant a few years ago. Dr. Van Dueck ordered the chowder (you know the white kind–Boston) and liked it so much that he asked for the recipe. The waiter was kind enough to bring us the recipe card for us to copy. Much to our chagrin, we found that it was made with a powdered stock mix and didn’t have milk or cream in it, but Coffee Mate!! We were stunned and needless to say didn’t bother to write down the recipe. I finally realized why they used Coffee Mate instead of the real thing. They were avoiding dairy for those with allergies and I suppose it kept forever unlike milk or cream. I still think that it is awful that unsuspecting customers are fed Coffee Mate, a product we personally avoid because it’s made out of corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavorings, none of which were ever designed to go into the human body. What did we learn from this? …You can’t always trust your taste buds!
Here’s some more reasons for making it yourself. Fish stock, especially when the heads are used, provides iodine, which is extremely important to the thyroid gland. According to research, 40% of all Americans have some level of thyroid dysfunction which causes, fatigue, weight gain, frequent colds and flu, inability to concentrate, and depression, etc. Click here for info on Hypothyroidism.
So take a couple of weekends a year and get the family involved. Once you make your chicken, beef and fish stocks, preserve them for later use by freezing or canning.
TIPS: Keep a plastic ziplock bag in the freezer to collect onion skins and trimmings, celery bits, carrot ends, mushroom stems and tomato bits. Always start your stock with cold water. Chicken and beef stocks can be intensified by roasting the bones first.
Keep separate bags to collect chicken bones, fish bones/crustacean shells, beef bones and meat scraps. When it comes time to making stock, you will have a lot of the ingredients just waiting for you and may only have to purchase some bones.
Today I will give you the recipes for beef, chicken and fish stocks and a few soup recipes you can use your stock in.
Variations on these include lamb, veal, turkey, and duck depending on your preferences.
“Indeed, stock is everything in cooking…without it nothing can be done.” ~Auguste Escoffier
Pho (Vietnamese Aromatic Soup)
My Favourite Chowder…a cross between Boston (white) and Manhattan (red) -Who would have thought? The best of both worlds! I call it B&M Chowder. You can very this recipe to be a fish chowder, crab chowder etc.
Shrimp Bisque (secret ingredient-Mace-which is the outside skin of nutmeg)