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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Stocks

Frugal Kitchens 101

Many people over look a fundamental way to save in the kitchen simply by not making their own stocks. However stocks are made using many food items that are going to be tossed or put into the compost bin anyway. Essentially you are taking a waste product and turning it into something useful while eliminating a commercial product from your pantry. If you use 2 L (quarts) of stock per week at a cost of purchased stock $1.59 you will over the year save $165.36 and you will have a healthier product.

Consider how useful stocks are. Used in place of water they add flavour to breads, rice and pasta dishes. They form the basis for homemade soups. The problem is most people think it takes a long time to make stock when in fact it doesn't. In general you will want a good variety of vegetable and meat based stocks. You can home can or freeze them. There are three basic ways of making stocks.

  1. long stove top cook - This is the age old method of making stocks. Essentially the bones along with carrots, onions and celery are cook for an extended period of time on simmer until the meat falls off the bone. The stock is then strained, cooled and defatted. If canning it is reheated then canned or if freezing it is packaged into freezer containers and froze.
  2. pressure cooking - This is my preferred method of making smaller batches of stock. Unlike the long cook method you can easily make a tasty and rich stock in 40 minutes or less. Once strained the stock can be froze or used as the base for soup. Unless you have a yield of 7 pints or more I don't recommend canning simply because you will be running the canning at well under full capacity adding to the cost of the final product. That doesn't mean you can't can stock using the pressure cooker method only that it will cost you more to make.
  3. slow cooker - This method is very similar to the long stove top method except you are using a slow cooker. Place your bones, onions, celery and carrots in the slow cooker then cover with water and set on low for the day. Strain. This method limits the amount of stock that can be made at one time but it is still a very useful method.
There are a few ways to make a richer stock. Using these methods takes little time but are well worth the effort.
  1. roast your bones - Any bones used for making stock should be roasted. This will add depth, colour and flavouring to your stock. I suggest roasting the bones uncovered at 350ºF for 40 minutes prior to using the bones to make stock.
  2. add fat and skin - Fat adds an incredible amount of flavour to your stocks as does the skin. Make sure both are added to your stocks as they are cooking. Remove when the stock is finished cooking and defat prior to canning or freezing. If making wild game stocks such as venison add a couple of pieces of bacon because a fat is needed not only for flavour but for the mouth feel. Remove the fat after cooling.
  3. add vegetables - Always add onion with the skin, a couple of washed but unpeeled carrots and a stock or two of celery or preferably the center leaves of celery to your stock pot. Add a bay leaf to beef stocks. Surprisingly adding a washed, unpeeled parsnip really boosts the flavour and richness of any meat or poultry stock as well as vegetable stocks.
  4. when making vegetable stocks - Every vegetable is fair game. Be sure to use a wide variety then strain well after cooking.
  5. in general - Do not add seasonings, salt or pepper. This will give you a versatile stock that can be used for many purposes.

1 food lovers commented:

Kat said...

This is an excellent idea! I've been saving leftover vegetable bits since you posted this and have made several cookings of vegetable stock. Because I only have a small freezer, I canned it. I actually have more stock than I know what to do with at this point. Good thing canned goods keep for quite a while!

Thanks for another excellent cooking tip!!!