Take Stock

Today in the New York Times we find a long article about the newest trend in hip places to drink bone broth instead of coffee. As a health ‘drink’ broth or stock has a great deal going for it. Firstly there is no sugar in it. Any drink that an American takes that does not contain any kind of sweetener in it is a step in the right direction.

Recently, this prehistoric food has improbably become a trend beverage, ranking with green juice and coconut water as the next magic potion in the eternal quest for perfect health. Like other health foods that have taken off in recent years — yogurt, quinoa — broth combines mystical connections to the ancient world and demonstrable nutrition benefits in the modern one.

In my food stores I have gallons of meat stock stored away. It could not be easier to make, it keeps forever in the freezer, and it makes just about anything you put it in leap from ordinary to extraordinary.

Here is the basic method to make stock, and it doesn’t matter at all what kind of bones you use, the procedure is pretty much the same. Let’s say you just carved your turkey, you have a pile of disgusting trash on your cutting board. I take all of those bones, break the back away from the breastbone, and throw them into an eight quart stock pot, with a heavy bottom.

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Add a gallon of water and put the fire on medium high to get it boiling. Once it boils you can add an onion cut into quarters, a carrot or two that is broken into big chunks, and a stalk of celery or two that is cut into big chunks. None of this stuff has to be pretty because at the end of the operation it will all be trash. Once the stock is boiling again you can spoon off the foam, but you don’t have to. Now you reduce the heat to low and cover it up. Let it cook for as long as you can. When you are done cooking it, strain the trash off and reserve the stock. I strain mine into another stock pot, it doesn’t have to be an eight quart one. Then I clean my eight quart one and pour the stock back through a fine strainer to get most of the solids out of it. Once it has cooled off completely I then pour the stock into ice cube trays and freeze them. Each ice cube is two ounces of stock, so if I need a cup of stock for something it takes four ice cubes.

The resulting stock when refrigerated looks like jelly. To make soup with it you would cut it one to one with water. You can use it anywhere that you would use water in a recipe, say you are making canned vegetables, you put in stock instead. It makes whatever you put it in very hearty. I guess you could also keep some ready in a teapot for drinking, too. That never occurred to me, but I really like my coffee and cream in the mornings.

If you are making beef stock you do all of the same things, but you roast the bones in a high temperature oven before you boil them. You will be amazed at how much oil will come out of those bones. If you get them very brown your beef stock will be the color you expect. Beef stock does not have to be brown to be good, but it is attainable, so I usually try to brown the bones first.

In my stock supply I have pork stock from ham bones. When I smoke a ham I always make the stock the same day, and you cannot beat smoked pork stock. I have smoked turkey stock from my turkey carcass. I have beef stock from soup bones that I get when I get a side of beef. I finally made some vegetable stock.

When my stock ice cubes are frozen I put it into quart zip top bags. One ice cube tray will fill one quart bag. If the stock lasts very long then I will put the cubes into vacuum bags. In vacuum bags they should last just about forever.

I guess that broth and stock is an important ingredient in the paleo diet. My understanding of this diet is that you don’t eat butter? If I am wrong about this then my apologies, but I am going to eat butter. Saturated fats were wrongly smeared decades ago and we are all still paying the price in health and weight gain.

Making stock is easy, but it’s not quick. It is worth the time and effort to do, as is anything you do for yourself in your kitchen.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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