However, if you've never tasted homemade stock, you are in for a real treat! It is so much nicer than the store bought variety and I have stumbled across a way of making stock that involves the least amount of effort! Let me share my tasty stock making ways with you...
To begin with, ingredients are collected over the course of a week. We go through a LOT of veggie peelings here and instead of tossing them straight into the compost and chook containers, I've been storing them in a container in the freezer specifically for a stock making session before they end up in there respective places.
So what goes in to stock?
Whatever you like...well mostly!
To our freezer container I add:
- chicken bones from leftover roasts
- veal bones from osso bucco
- onion peelings, brown skin and all
- celery tops and bottoms
- carrot tops and peelings
- tomato cores/ends
- leek tops
As you can see, they are all scrappy waste offerings from the kitchen. I don't go out of my way to ensure we have stock making ingredients 'to hand', rather just save whatever I think is useful and freeze it. Once the container is bursting to the brim with the saved offerings from the week, I add them all to the slow cooker...usually jamming them in in their frozen state as inevitably I've saved too much...(!)
|Yep, you can see they're straight from the freezer, the celery tops are limp and the carrot tops and onions have icicles covering them!|
To the frozen scraps, I then add:
- the odd garlic clove that is sprouting
- parsley stems and leaves
- a few bay leaves
- several peppercorns
The whole lot is then covered with lukewarm water and turned on the low setting. I have been leaving it on overnight (at least 12 hours), to gently simmer away and do it's thing and in the morning wake up to a beautifully rich pot of golden stock..
The bulging pot is strained of the boney, vegetable debris and then poured through a sieve lined with muslin to catch any impurities lurking in the bottom of the pot. If you are after a super clear stock, it can then be clarified which involves whisking egg whites and eggshells into the liquid and straining again, however I don't bother with this step. Muslin does it for me ;)
In our modest size slow cooker I find that it produces 2-2.5 litres of stock without any problems. Now if my larger slow cooker hadn't died, this could be substantially increased, although I'm finding this quantity is just right to last us through the week until the next lot of stock is made.
To store the stock, I freeze it in 750ml containers and pull out one when making a soup, curry, casserole or pie..whatever. As the stock has simmered for such a lengthy time, it is incredibly flavoursome and really adds body to the finished dish! As a result, I am using less than what I previously did with the bought variety.
However, being chicken/vegetable flavoured, it never overpowers the dish..as I would suspect could be the case with beef bones (if using a lot) and definitely lamb bones (which I never use). Potato peelings don't make it into our stock pot either. This stock can go in anything to add flavour, while still allowing the character of the dish to shine through. If we were a vegetarian household I would still make stock, just omit the bones. Homemade tastes great!
Chickeny, vegetabl-ly goodness...mmmm, yum! This surely has to be good for you! Plus, there is no packaging clogging up our bin and being made from a waste ingredient, like the pectin, it's free!
Do you make stock? What makes it into your pot?