Flickr Photo Credit: Dplanet
Not only does the cost of the store bought version nearly cause me to go into cardiac arrest, the level of salt and Lord knows what else cannot possibly be good for you. Besides, homemade stock is very easy to make on your own, and if you have a convenient system set up for doing so, it can be even easier. Here’s how I make a few of the basic kinds of stocks.
Vegetable Stock: Basically, after scrubbing any vegetables I use for meal prep and cutting off the ends, I put them all in a gallon freezer bag or other airtight container until I have enough for use. Usually, a gallon bag or so of vegetable ends does it. Good items to include: onion pieces, celery leaves, carrot ends and tomato pieces. I don’t usually include the turnips and squash pieces because that’s not the flavor you will normally want when making stock. When you are ready to make a batch, simply put them in a stock pot with some water over the top and simmer until the water turns a mixed vegetable color and the flavor and nutrition have been removed. Strain, cool, and store. You can store your stock however you want. I normally freeze it in ice cube trays and then pop all of the cubes in a gallon freezer bag. Then, when you need a small amount for soups, just grab a couple of cubes and toss them in.
Chicken Stock: Usually, there are large sections of the roast chicken that people did not eat from at dinner, particularly if you slice off sections and serve guests on plates. After de-boning the bird, save the clean carcass in an empty container. Once you have three or four of them, implement the same strategy listed above for vegetable stock. Also, if you are using those affordable 10 pound bags of chicken leg quarters to break down for soups and chicken tacos, you can make stock from these as well. I’ve done it a few different ways. I’ve baked off the whole ten pounds at once and taken the meat and skin off using rubber gloves, setting the meat aside to be bagged and frozen. Then, I put the leg bones with meat pieces into a stock pot with water and simmer until the stock is formed. If you have the energy to take the skin off the legs first, you can put them in the stock pot with water as the first step, and boil the chicken to cook, rather than baking. After taking the meat off, toss the bones back in for a bit more stock flavor. The cool thing about making your own chicken stock is that you can control the fat content as well as the salt. Simply wait until the fat rises to the top and cools a bit. Then skim it off and store to freeze.
Meat Stock: I usually just save the juices from a pot roast for this. It works fine.
Fish Stock: Normally, I bake or pan sear my fish. But if you have left over tales and other end pieces when you prep your fresh fish, set them aside in the freezer until you have enough to make a fish stock using the same technique listed above for chicken. I also save the juice from canned clams for chowders, dips, clam-based pasta sauces and clamato cocktails.
These stocks are really the healthier option, and can shave several dollars off the cost of a particular meal, depending on the amount of stock that you need. The one I use the most is the chicken stock. Your family’s menu preferences will most likely drive the stock that you prepare the most often.