You should make your own stock. Why? Not because it makes you better than that friend who always has better pots, pans or a more exclusive source of Humboldt Fog goat cheese than you do. While that may be a perfectly legitimate reason to make your own stock, there are far better ones.
Number one – your food will taste better. Much better. Sooooooooo much better.
Number two – salt. When you cook, your stock will invariably reduce. Even low-sodium stock can end up tasting too salty. I am not worried as much about your health here. In fact, you should salt your food. The real risk of high-sodium comes from packaged, processed and fast foods; not cooking from scratch in your kitchen.
Number three – your entire house will smell awesome! But please, plan on cooking something else at the same time. When stock is done you throw all the solids away. So while your family has been salivating over the rich smells wafting from the kitchen, you’ve got nothing ready for them to eat. On the other hand, they’ll be desperate and hungry. Get them to wash the dishes before you feed them.
Your stock will cook in under 45 minutes. You can put it on the back burner while you go about cooking something else, or kicking your feet up on the couch. This stores well, so put some in the fridge or freezer. You can add lots of veggie scraps to flavor your stock, but avoid bitter and acidic foods like peppers, tomatoes and any member of the Brassica family – cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
- 1 large carrot (2″ diameter and 8″ long)
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 large onion (about the size of a baseball)
- 1 leek, white parts only (optional)
- 8-10 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 6-8 parsley stems
- 4-6 sprigs thyme
- Roughly chop the vegetables. This is not the time for fine knife skills.
- Add 10-12 cups water to a 6 quart stock pot. Add all of the ingredients.
- Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for 45 minutes or so.
- Strain and discard all solids.
- Boil stock and reduce to about 8 cups.
- You can test the level of flavor by putting a little in a small dish and adding a pinch of salt. Taste it. If it tastes to watery, reduce the stock further.