Stocks & Broths: what & why?
Stocks and broths are so essential to so many other recipes that it makes sense to start with a few articles on how to make them.
A few definitions first:
- Broth is the flavored water in which meat, seafood and/or vegetables have been cooked, after the meat, seafood and/or vegetables have been removed.
- Stock is the same, but is made either with bones alone or bones added to other ingredients.
Stock is usually richer in taste because of the gelatin released by the bones.
- A concentrated broth or stock can be obtained in several ways:
- By using more meat, seafood and/or vegetables for a quantiity of liquid;
- By reusing the broth with new meat, seafood and/or vegetables.
- By reducing the stock. Extreme storage space reduction can be obtained by completely dehydrating the broth.
Q. Is it necessary to make stock ahead of time?
A. That depends on your cooking habits.
If you frequently need stock without wanting to make it each time, you may want to do that.
In my experience, stock often makes itself as a side benefit while I’m cooking other things.
In that case, I sometimes cool and freeze it for later use. I rarely make stock for the express purpose of canning or freezing.
For those occasions that a soup recipe calls for stock and I have none, I often add a chicken leg for 20-30 minutes.
I also use commercial stock concentrates or powdered bouillon. Many of them taste quite good when used correctly. I do use them regularly, but more as a supporting condiment (MSG) than as the main ingredient. My objection to them for more frequent use is that, like most commercial foods, they come loaded with salt, added flavorings, preservatives and who-knows-what-else-for chemicals.
A good way to go about this:
- Make a large amount and freeze or can it for future need.
- Save the cooking liquid of meat, fish or vegetables every time instead of pouring it down the drain. Store it up until you have enough to do something useful with it.
Clarifying a stock or broth:
When added to a stock or broth that is kept quietly at near-boil, egg whites will trap fat and floating debris, which makes it easier to filter out those impurities. I have never felt it necessary to use egg whites on clear vegetable broths. Just letting them rest off the heat for a few minutes has always given very good results for me, no straining or filtering necessary.
Making Stocks & Broths
The method described here for beef stock remains the same for any stock / broth you want to make: load the pot, boil/simmer & strain.