The principles of stock making are really quite straight-forward and simple. Still, for whatever reason, many would-be gourmet cooks seem to draw the line here. They feel that stocks are used only by the great chefs, and that their “mysteries” must therefore run too deep for a beginner to manage.
Well, let me say this about that . . . balderdash!!
There is nothing to making your own stock, and I promise you that doing so will almost instantly make you a better cook.
Here’s all there is to it . . .
There are only 6 basic steps to making stock:
- Always start your stock in cold water
- Gentle simmer the stock
- Skim the stock frequently
- Strain the stock
- Cool the stock
- Degrease the stock
Now I’ll run through these 6 basic principles of stock making again, this time with a bit more detail . . .
Always Start the Stock In Cold Water
The stock ingredients should always be covered with cold water. When bones are covered with cold water, blood and other impurities dissolve.
Simmer the Stock Gently
Bring your stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. You don’t want your stock to constantly boil because impurities and fats will blend with the liquid.
Skim the Stock
You should skim your stock so the stock doesn’t become cloudy with impurities. Skim regularly through the cooking process.
Strain the Stock
Separate the liquid from the solids and do this carefully. You don’t want to stir the stock in order to keep the liquids clear..
- Before removing the stockpot from the heat, skim as much fat as you can from the surface.
- Ladle the stock from the pot.
- Then strain the stock into a large metal container. I use a china cap with several layers of cheesecloth.
Cool The Stock
Cool your stock quickly to prevent food-borne illnesses.
- Place the stock on a rack in the sink to vent it.
- Add water to the sink to cool the stock down.
- While in the sink, stir the stock frequently to cool it evenly.
Degrease The Stock
Transfer your stock to the refrigerator. A layer of fat will rise to the top of the stock. You then need to degrease (remove) the fat from the surface.
I then pour my stock into freezer safe bags (about 2 cups per bag), lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, you can stack them up and always have fresh stock on hand.
There! Hopefully, armed with the few simple steps I’ve laid out for you, you are excited and prepared to create what will surely be the first of many great stock making adventures.