There was a good deal of discussion around stock when we posted about intentionally burning onions for that purpose last week so I decided it would be prudent to share our process of making and preserving (via pressure canning) stock.
Stock is a winter activity for us. It can take a lot of time (although much of the time is passive), generate a reasonable amount of heat, and I tend to use it a lot more in the winter. We generally use 1-2 liters of stock (often more) per week in the middle of winter. It`s primary uses are soups and stews but it`s not uncommon for a few tablespoons to deglaze my pans or to bring a stir fry together.
The example we`re going to use here happens to be from venison though it would work with any core ingredients – including a veggie version. I have been saving some of my peelings, carrot ends, discarded onions, etc in the freezer and tend to make a veggie stock on the fly – it is the only stock I make that can be done in a single day (we`ll share more about that later).
If you`re new around these parts and are curious (or even turned off) by the idea of hunting, I encourage you to visit my diary entries from the last 2 years of the harvest. There`s no gruesome photos and they try to explain a balanced perspective which include my own struggle with a tradition that has lasted hundreds of years through my family.I no longer add salt or garlic to my stocks. I used to add both and there`s nothing wrong with them in principle – it`s just that my option to remove these things later is non-existent. I`m vigilant about buying unsalted butter so that I can add my own – and I follow the same principle here.
The elimination of salt makes a giant difference compared to what we buy in the store. There tend to be significant sodium levels in packaged stock and many feel that their stock is bland compared to what they buy commercially. You can compensate by adding salt later or using it with less salt and allow your palate to adjust to the reduced salt content. It may take some time to get used to but your body may also thank you later.
My first step is to roast the bones. I toss them in a small bit of oil (generally not olive oil as I`d like something that is flavor neutral and can take the significant heat that is coming) and some pepper. They enter an over that has been preheated to 425 degrees.
I will flip the bones once or twice to ensure they are getting equally browned. They are ready when they turn a dark, golden hue.
I also roast vegetables the same way (unless I am making a 1-day veggie stock where I will still roast but will be ultra conservative with my oil as I don`t want a greasy stock). I tend to throw unpeeled carrots (cut in quarters), big hunks of celery and onion halves with the skin on (unless I char them like the link in the first paragraph). I also want these to transform their color before adding to the stock.
All of these things are added to a large stock pot (I tend to start with the bones as they may be tougher to fit into the pot) and then barely cover the works with water.
The next step may be a little different from you`d expect, but that`s for tomorrow…
Anyone have any different tips to this point? We really love the amount of sharing that`s been going on in the comments lately and have been learning a bunch from you guys too…
This is one part of a three-part series on making and canning stock. You can locate all of the articles here.