How to Make Stock
Making your own stock is great for so many reasons, here’s why I love it:
- Uses the scraps from your meals, reducing food waste
- Control the salt levels
- Saves money
- I can add the flavors I want
- Comes out better than store bought
Here's my basic stock technique: In a slow cooker use bones + veggie scraps (carrots, onion, celery + your choice) + herbs. Cover with water, put on low and simmer away!
When you’re cleaning and preparing your veggies, save the trimmed bits, stalks, skin, and leaves. Ex: peeling carrots, leek, onion and garlic skins, corn cobs, celery ends, mushroom stems, etc. Start your veggie “stock” pile by putting the scraps in a freezer safe plastic storage bag, gallon size, and when it’s full you’re ready to make stock.
Use carrots, celery, and onion as a base, from there you can really put any vegetable you want, but I certain strong-flavored or starchy vegetables can overwhelm the flavor of your stock, or turn it cloudy. So don’t add scraps like potato peels and asparagus.. keep those to add to compost.
Add peppercorn, and dried herbs like bay leaf, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. You can use fresh herbs as well, but remove them after 30-60 minutes so the stock doesn’t get bitter. Be careful about adding salt! I’d rather add little bit at a time and taste to ensure it doesn’t get too salty. If you’re doing a veggie stock with mushrooms, use soy sauce instead of salt for added depth of flavor.
For meat based stocks, you can freeze “raw” bones from meat trimmings, or use bones that have been cooked. The roasted bones will make a richer stock, so that would be the preference. Using parts that have a lot of bones (think chicken wings), marrow, or cartilage make your stocks richer and have additional health benefits like collagen. I do not use bones that have been eaten off of, that is my personal preference, even though it will be cooked to a temperature that will kill off bacteria. Save shrimp, lobster, and crab shells, and any fish heads or bones for seafood stock.
Now for the cooking process. Vegetable stock doesn’t need to simmer for too long. Start tasting your stock after 30 minutes of gentle simmering. Depending on how deeply flavored you’d like your stock to be, it should be ready in one to two hours. For a bone or seafood stock, you’ll want this to be simmering all day (6-8 hours, or more if you have some large meat bones).
And since I love to find easy ways to do everything, I’ve found that you can put this all in a slow cooker and put it on low.
Once your stock is to your liking, strain it through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Cool to room temperature on the counter, then refrigerate for up to five days. For longer-term storage, freeze stock in plastic or glass jars, freezer bags, or ice cube trays, or muffin tins (great for portioning!). If freezing in jars, be sure to leave enough head space above the stock—at least an inch—so that when it solidifies and expands in the freezer, the jars won’t break. Frozen stock can keep for up to three months.