I love making stock because it’s so much cheaper than buying it. Depending on what I have in my freezer sometimes it’s practically free!
Every time I cut up veggies for dinner I save the tops and extras of the ones I make stock from and throw them in the freezer. For example, when I am cutting up celery, I save the leafy tops and the bottoms that I cut off. Same goes for mushroom stems. Wash them well and put them in a freezer bag. If you are a meat eater, save the bones from chicken, turkey, and ham and put those in the freezer. Some veggies need to be blanched before freezing (carrots for example), so make sure before tossing them in the freezer.
When I go to make my stock, I have everything thawed and my fresh ingredients laid out and then I can assess how much stock I can make with what I have. I tend to save as much up as possible so I can do big batches all at once and have stock for the next two months. Get out your big stock pot and start simmering! It only needs to be stirred occasionally so you can do other things while it’s cooking.
The basic formula for vegetable stock makes about 4 cups. I triple or quadruple this recipe so I am making a lot at once. I have a huge stock pot for this purpose, but you can make as much or as little as you like. Freeze this in 2 cup portions. Many recipes call for 2 cups.
First you need to prepare bouquet garni:
I use 1 bouquet per four cups of liquid. In cheesecloth wrap up:
2 tbsp. Dried parsley
1 tbsp. Dried thyme
1 tbsp. Dried marjoram
2 bay leaves
Tie it up with kitchen string and add toss them in when you’ve added the liquid to the stock pot.
In your stock pot heat up a tablespoon of olive oil (or vegetable oil) and cook until softened:
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cups diced celery (include the leaves)
¼ cup chopped carrots (you’ll need to buy fresh if you haven’t blanched and frozen any)
¼ cup chopped turnips
Salt and pepper to taste (note: I check on the flavour of my stock as it’s cooking. Sometimes part way through you need to add more salt and pepper. Just don’t over salt. You will be adding salt to the recipes you are putting the stock in.
Add enough cold water to the pot to cover the vegetables. Throw in the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and then simmer partially covered, for about 1 – 1 ½ hours or until all of your veggies are very tender.
Strain and then press down on the vegetables in the strainer to get the last bits of liquid out. Cool uncovered. If you see there is fat on the top from the oil, skim it before putting it in the freezer.
If you are doubling the recipe the cook time may vary so you need to check on it. Cook until the veggies are very tender. Once you do it a few times you will know how long it takes for your size batch.
To make stock with meat bones, you basically follow the same recipe but throw in my bones and add a bit more water depending on how many bones you have. If you cook a lot of whole chickens you could save 4 or 5 carcasses in the freezer before making a batch.
There are recipes you can find that are specific to meat stock, but I’m sure it works just fine to add it to the basic vegetable stock recipe. Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients in your pot and go from there.
Checking on it every now and again and giving it a stir. You will need to skim fat off of the stock when using meat bones. Again, freeze in 2 cup portions. Label your containers with the type of stock and when it was made. Frozen stock should be used up within 3 months.
You can also make lots of bouquet garni ahead of time as well and keep it in a really well sealed container. I have kept mine up to 6 months. They come in handy for soups, sauces and gravies.
I hope you enjoy making your own stock! Happy cooking!