It's now fall and the weather is cooling. As we change from the bounty of fresh summer produce, we move into the time of soups and stews. One main ingredient in many fall and winter cooking is a nice stock. Depending on the recipe or the final flavor profile you may want a specific kind such as chicken, beef, or fish. Or if you're like me your go to is a simple veggie that you can add more to later. Although stock is easily accessible in most stores, I love to make my own with some of the waste from my kitchen.
Now before you get afraid of making a stock just know that it is super easy. Even if you only cook every so often you probably throw out things like onion skins, vegetable peels, herbs that are past their prime, things that are generally really flavorful. Get a bag or container for your freezer and start throwing all these scrapes in there. Even the bones and remains from a chicken dinner, the shells and tails from shrimp, any part of an animal that you did not consume can go straight into the container. (use separate containers if doing different kinds of stock)
Once you have built a nice amount of scrapes it's time to make some stock. Take everything you saved, place in a large pot, cover with water, and boil. That's it! Depending on the seasonings and what are thrown in the pot you can always add some extras. I like to add some whole peppercorns straight to the pot with a heavy pinch of salt. Add some dried chilies if you like things a little hotter. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer for an hour or two. Once it's nice and infused let it cool before storing.
It's a very simple ingredient that you can make from things you'd otherwise throw out. Not only do you remove some of the cost to cook by not having to buy stock, you also are helping your cooking by making a stock that you know what is in it. When it comes to storage I prefer mason jars. Simple, easy, and I have way to many that I need to use them up. You can keep the stock for a couple weeks in a refrigerator or even freeze it. I will say that I freeze the jars without the lid and on a sheet tray just in case something goes south but as long as you leave some room for the liquid to expand you should be fine! Below I'll leave a sample of things that can go into a stock and an easy run through to make it in a pinch. If you have any questions about what to use or how to make it feel free to comment and share your thoughts!
Quick and Easy Stock
1. Start with some cooking scrapes. Bones and skins from meat (preferably after cooking for additional flavors); onion skins and the root that is cut off; garlic skins, root, or cloves that have sprouted; herbs and spices; vegetable peels; pepper stems and seeds; citrus peels.
2. Add all scrapes into a large pot and fill with water to cover scrapes at least 1 knuckle deep.
3. Bring water to a boil. Cover but make sure to vent to let reduce slightly.
4. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and let sit and infuse for at least 1 hour.
5. Remove from heat and let cool on the counter until almost room temperature.
6. Place into container of choice and store in fridge for 1-2 weeks or freeze until needed.