Save money, improve your health and reduce your household’s waste by making your own stock from scratch.

Winters in my childhood home were characterised by inside games, hearty comfort food and a pot of stock on the stove. Not surprisingly, I was fortunate to learn how to make this kitchen staple from a young age.

Winter warmers such as soups, casseroles and pies not only taste so much better when made from homemade stock, they are also much healthier. Commercial powdered stock is full of salt and flavour enhancers and some liquid stocks aren’t that much better.

If you’ve never been exposed to making stock or haven’t contemplated making a batch from scratch, you may be surprised to find that it’s super easy. All it takes is a few minutes placing the ingredients in a pot, a few hours to gently simmer on the stove or in a slow cooker (around 12 hours is optimum to extract the goodness from bones), and a few minutes separating the liquid from the solids to have yourself a stash of liquid gold.

Making your own stock from scratch will save you a small fortune. Homemade beef stock costs approximately $2.50 / litre to make, chicken approximately $1.50 and vegetable less than $1 / litre. Compared to $4 per litre for Campbell’s Real Stock, you can easily see how the savings quickly accumulate. These costs are based on buying the ingredients at Woolworths and using fresh herbs from your garden. If you have a great relationship with your local butcher, you may find they even give you the bones for free!

My favourite recipes for the main three stocks (beef, vegetable and chicken) all originated from Margaret Fulton cookbooks but I’ve tweaked them over time as my knowledge has grown (for example, by adding apple cider vinegar and simmering for longer). There’s no need to follow them too closely if you have a heap of limp vegetables occupying your crisper – just throw them all in! You’ll soon find food waste to be a thing of the past once you start making your stocks!

Beef Stock

  • 1.5 kg beef bones (e.g. marrow, neck, shin)
  • 250g stewing steak
  • 1 carrot, thickly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 sml turnip or parsnip
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Bouquet garni*
  • 3 litres (12 cups) water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (unfiltered with mother)

Remove any large piece of meat and chop finely. Wash bones and place in stock pot. Add remaining ingredients and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and skim surface, Lower heat and simmer gently for up to 12 hours to extract nutritious minerals from the bones. Strain liquid into a large bowl and discard solids. Cool and refrigerate. Remove the solidified fat from the surface the next day. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

 

Chicken Stock

  • 1kg chicken bones (eg. necks, wings or a carcass and giblets)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sml onion
  • 1 sml carrot
  • Bouquet garni*
  • 2 litres (8 cups) water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (unfiltered with mother)

Place chicken bones in stockpot and add remaining ingredients. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, skimming the surface. Simmer gently for up to 12 hours to extract nutritious minerals from the bones.1-2 hours. Strain liquid into a large bowl and discard solids. Cool and refrigerate. Remove the solidified fat from the surface the next day. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Laura’s tip: Whenever steaming a chicken be sure to reserving the liquid and use as stock. After removing the meat from the carcass, roasting it for 20 minutes at 180°C and then cook the roasted bones with vegetables as above. It is therefore possible to yield six plus litres of quality chicken stock from one chicken!

 

Vegetable Stock

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek (white part)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 parsnip or turnip
  • 1 piece ginger (walnut-sized), finely chopped
  • Bouquet garni*
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 litres (8 cups) water

Place all ingredients into a stock pot and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. Pour the liquid through a colander, pressing the vegetables against the side to extract the juices. Discard solids. Pour through a strainer. Cool and refrigerate.

* A bouquet garni is a bunch of herbs consisting of a bay leaf, sprig of thyme, several peppercorns and 4 parsley stalks placed between half a carrot and a piece of celery. Tied firmly with cooking twine, this bouquet is easier to remover from the pot than stray leaves. It looks pretty impressive too!

Laura
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