Make Your Own Stock

fruitMy compost obsession has been joined by a complimentary addiction – making my own stock. To give credit where it’s due, Gavin started the stock making process, and it’s become the current thing.  Our eyes gleam at the sight of an oldish veggie, and we become slightly breathless as we plow our way through the Sunday roast and the chicken carcass begins to emerge. Sad, I know, but fun.

It’s incredibly easy to make, has a myriad of uses, is economical, eco-friendly and healthy. We fling everything into the stock pot – bones, old veggies, vegetable peelings, herbs, lemon rind (not too much, it can dominate the flavour), leftover rice etc. Be as creative as you like with what you add, what’s the worst that can happen?

I start off by frying a couple of chopped onions, garlic and leeks in a big pot. I then add whatever bones, bits of meat, leftover, veggies and peelings we have collected over the week – I have a large plastic container that I fill every evening and then pop in the freezer.  Add three to four litres of water. Add salt, pepper, any herbs and spices that take your fancy, the rind of a quarter of a lemon, and bring the lot to the boil.

Boil rapidly for a few minutes then turn down the heat and simmer for a few hours until everything has broken down and dissolved. Run the liquid through a strainer and divide into bottles. Freeze them and use as required.

Stock is great for stews, soups, sauces, cooking roasts – and really superb when used as the liquid in which to cook pasta or rice. The flavour is absorbed by the starches and with a few stir-fried strips of meat and vegetables makes a divine, healthy, cheap meal.

Best bit? Whatever is left over in the strainer can go straight onto the compost heap!


4 Responses to “Make Your Own Stock”

  1. 1 Lisa September 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Interesting that you throw the stock remains onto the compost – I thought that compost heaps were strictly for raw stuff – the cooked material attracts rats and cannot be broken down by microbacteria. Unless you have such a steamingly hot, active heap that everything breaks down… but I haven’t heard of that.
    Having just planted the summer tomatoes, I’m noticing the drawback of having a too-small compost heap: it doesn’t get hot/active enough to break down the seeds of the thrown-away veggies. So a thousand little tomato/butternut/zucchini seedlings are competing in my veggie patch as weeds. This year I’m going to try find a comfrey plant – I hear it activates a compost heap like nobody’s business.

    I’m not a compost purist, anything that’ll rot goes on! What’s left after boiling for stock is a mush and it seems to break down ok, birds (especially guniea fowl) scratch and eat at it, and probably a rat or two as well. The soil in our garden is very poor, virtually beach sand, and we constantly need to feed it. Putting everything possible into it has made a marked difference over a couple of years.

    I read on a gardening blog that people also smash mussel and prawn shells, boil them, and add the liquid to compost. Apparantly very good for the garden, although I have not tried it yet.

    I’ve also heard great things about comfrey, my mom soaks comfrey leaves in a huge bucket of water for weeks and uses the resulting liquid as a fertiliser. She swears it’s the best thing ever.

  2. 2 shoreacres September 23, 2009 at 3:53 am

    I’ve heard of comfrey tea but never have seen the plant that I know of. I found a Purdue university site that told me entirely too much about planting and harvesting the stuff, but I don’t believe I’ll be raising any comfrey. Carcinogenic isn’t a word I like to hear in my food reviews!

    Since I don’t have a compost pile, I can’t add anything to that, either – except that a friend who is really serious about composting always is extolling the virtues of coffee grounds and egg shells.

    I did go snooping re: the shrimp shells and am ready to declare shrimp shells good for the garden, in water or otherwise. You might be interested in this article about the discovery that a chemical in shrimp shells helps to catalyze plant oils into biodiesel faster than anything else going. If they can do that, they ought to be great for a compost heap!

    • 3 Jeannine September 23, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      Comfrey? Carcinogenic? Geez, never knew, never had a clue. Will have to follow you onto those research sights.
      Yip, coffee grounds and egg shells are great, especially for our very sandy soil – and thanks for the news about the shells!

  3. 4 shoreacres September 24, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Re: the carcinogenic business – I didn’t give it a close look, but as I recall it had to do with eating the greens rather than brewing them for tea or whatever. And since much of the discussion had to do with forage crops, I suspect that would be raw eating of the greens, which neither of us is about to do 😉

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