Homemade stock is essentially liquid gold. Not only is it a budget-friendly way to use vegetable scraps and animal bones, but the resulting broth is also almost always better than the store-bought stuff. Making your own stock may seem like a tall order, but it doesn't need to be difficult or time-consuming. From how long to simmer your stock to how to make broth in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, these are the basics of making your own bases.
When browsing grocery store aisles, you’ll see boxes and cans of broths, stocks and bone broth. All three share basic principles: meat (and/or vegetables) and water, but the amount of each in a pot, other elements and cook time are what make them distinctive.
Broth is the thinnest of the three. It starts with meat (either on or off the bone) or vegetables as well as seasonings like aromatics (onion, carrots, celery), herbs, salt and pepper. Broth doesn't need to simmer for a long time — less than two hours. It is best used in soups with numerous other elements or as a more flavorful swap for water when boiling vegetables, potatoes or grains.
Stock is the next step up and is made with animal bones (possibly with some meat left on them) and possibly some herbs or aromatics, but the real goal is to let the flavor of the meat shine. It’s simmered for a longer time, between two and six hours. Stock is also wonderful in soups and hearty stews, and is better suited for sauces and gravies than broth.
Bone broth is the thickest of the three and is made from just bones and water, simmered for a very long time, up to 48 hours. Bone broth is thicker and more gelatinous than stock and will congeal when refrigerated; when you make it, try adding a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which create an even richer finished product. It’s great for sipping on its own (it has some major health benefits) and can be used in soups too.
The core things you need to make stock are animal bones, vegetables, herbs and lots of cold water. For a basic chicken stock, you will need the leftover bones and skin (with just a bit of meat) from one large chicken, or the equivalent of various chicken pieces. You will also need 1 large carrot, 1 large onion and 1 large stock of celery, all cut into large pieces. Season with salt and about 10 peppercorns. You may also add herbs like bay leaves or parsley if you would like.
Add all of the ingredients to a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to low and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the stock and discard any solids. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
While saving meat carcasses is a great way to be thrifty, you can still make stock at home without a freezer full of bones. If you're not using leftovers, you can buy soup bones from your butcher.
To start, you will need turkey, chicken or beef bones. For turkey and chicken, wings, legs and backs are your go-to pieces. For beef, marrow bones, oxtail and beef shanks work well. Roast these pieces in the oven until they are golden brown.
After that, add the meat into a stockpot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and then lower the heat to low and simmer for at least 4 hours, skimming the fat occasionally. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the stock and discard any solids. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate. After the broth has cooled, remove the top layer of fat. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Making chicken stock in a slow cooker using nothing but bones and veggie scraps is a great way to save money and make a deeply flavorful broth.
As you cook, save leftover chicken bones and vegetable scraps (carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, ginger, herbs, etc.) and store them in the freezer. Supplement those with five cloves of garlic, two onions, three bay leaves and a tablespoon or so of peppercorns. Add all your scraps and seasoning into your slow cooker and cover with cold water. Cook on low heat for up to 24 hours, then strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. Freeze in 1-2 cup portions or refrigerate for up to five days.
If you’ve just acquired an Instant Pot, you’ve surely heard that one of the best things to make first in your multicooker is stock. This method is easy, quick and produces an insanely rich final product. Just take one chicken carcass without skin (or the equivalent amount of bones), large-diced carrot, onion and celery stalk as well as garlic cloves and about 15 peppercorns and add to your Instant Pot. Fill the Instant Pot with cold water to the 2/3 mark and secure the lid. Set the Instant Pot to manual and cook at a low pressure for 30-40 minutes (if you cook it for 3 hours, then you’ve got yourself chicken bone broth). Release the pressure naturally, strain the stock, removing bones and veggies, and cool.
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