Making a Stock

Wander through any grocery store and you will find row upon row of processed food items to make our lives easier. Most of these food items are laden with sodium, artifical flavourings, and other nasties that discerning home cooks really don't want to be feeding their families.

One such item is stock. You can buy it in dried, cube form or in a box as a liquid. I will admit, there are times that I use these items. When it comes to making healthy and nutritious foods for my family though, I like to make my stocks at home from scratch.

As well as being better for you, home made stocks can be cheaper, and can help to use up leftover bits of meat and veg in your fridge that might otherwise have been thrown away.

I am sharing my recipes for 3 basic stocks - a meat based stock (beef, chicken, or lamb), a fish based stock, and a vegetable based stock. I will also give some ideas on ways to use each. Each of these stocks, once made, can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before using, or can be transferred to a waterproof tub, or freezer bag and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Basic Meat-Based Stock

Chicken, Beef, or Lamb 

Makes 2 - 3 pints | Prep Time: | Total Time:

  • Meat bones (chicken, beef, or lamb)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 - 6 whole black peppercorns (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 3 - 4 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 - 3 fresh rosemary sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 - 4 pints cold water (enough to cover)
  1. Wash all of the vegetables and fresh herbs, but don't worry about peeling or removing stems
  2. Place the bones into a large pot.
  3. Quarter the onion and put that into the pot
  4. Use the side of the knife to crush the garlic and put those into the pot
  5. Break or cut the carrots into thirds and put those into the pot
  6. Add the fresh or dried herbs, salt and pepper
  7. Pour over enough water to cover everything
  8. Place this on the cooker over a medium heat and allow it to come up to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and leave to cook at a low simmer for 2 - 3 hours. The longer you can leave this to gently boil, the more flavour you will be able to extract from the bones.
  9. Don't add more water! You are concentrating flavours here.
  10. When you are ready to finish, take the pot off of the heat and allow it to cool. Pour the liquid through a sieve into a bowl or smaller pot. If you want to concentrate the flavours down even further, place the smaller pot onto the cooktop and simmer that until it has reduced by half.
  11. This stock can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  12. If you wish, you can pick through and pull out any meat that has come off the bones. Otherwise, the vegetables/bone mix can now go into your compost bin, or some of it can be given to your pet as a nutritious dinner.
Remember - don't give chicken bones to your pets!

Vegetable stock

Makes 2 - 3 pints | Prep Time: | Total Time:

Because vegetable stocks are so easy to make, I tend to cook these up as I need them.

I simmer a vegetable stock up in a large 3-quart saucepan, season it to my own taste, and then use it immediately. Often times, I can have the vegetable stock simmering while I am prepping other parts of the dish, and it is ready for me when I need to add the stock.

  • 1onion
  • 1carrot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup total leaves and peels from assorted vegetables - reserve from prepping any vegetables
  • enough water to cover
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bay leaf
  • fresh or dried herbs as desired
  1. Prep any vegetables you might be using in your dish, wash any dirt from the peels and end bits and place in a large pot along with the onion, carrots, and garlic.
  2. Pour over enough water to cover.
  3. Season with about 1 teaspoon salt and 4 - 6 whole peppercorns, or 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  4. Place over a medium heat and bring up to a boil.
  5. Decrease the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.
  6. Pass through a sieve, reserving the stock. Discard the cooked veggies into the compost
  7. This can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Because it is so easy to make though, I tend to just make it when I need it.

Fish Stock

A delicate stock for fish and seafood dishes 
Fish stock

 Makes 1 - 2 pints | Prep Time: | Total Time:

Like the vegetable stock, this can be cooked up quite quickly and easily so I generally only make it up as and when I need it.

If you have a fishmonger, ask him to reserve fish bones and such from filleting out your fish. Everything can be used when making a fish stock, including the heads and shells.  

  • Fresh fish bones and head, prawn heads, other seafood shells
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • enough water to cover
  • 4- 6 whole black peppercorns, or 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • small handful fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Rinse ingredients and place in a large pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover.
  3. Put on a medium heat, bring up to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  5. Pass through a sieve, reserving the stock. Discard the fish and vegetable mix in the compost bin. 

What Herbs to Use

Different herbs and spices work better with different types of stocks. I suggest using no more than 3, possibly 4 different herbs or spices when making stock unless you are certain of the resulting flavour.
Experiment for different flavours, using the stronger flavours for beef and lamb stock, and lighter flavours for vegetable and fish stocks.

You can use fresh or dried herbs.

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