The secret to super stock


This is two pictures of the same thing – roughly 10 liters of stock reduced A LOT:

The inspiration came from Val (who has a blog named Kale for the Revolution – check it out) who posted a comment back in December;

Joel, have you ever tried doing reduced stocks? I tried it this year with great success. I’ve reduced some by as much as an 8:1 ratio (meaning a 2 Tbsp ice cube has all the flavor of a cup of the original stock). Much easier to fit in the freezer that way.

Val’s comment has sat in my subconscious since then.  As much as I love to pressure can, it certainly would be a lot less hectic on the holidays to reduce a stock like this – and the luxury of using smaller portions than a 1 liter jar at a time?  There’s a luxury I could live with!

Given that we only have a miserably tiny freezer, this takes such minimal space that I can easily fit it with the rest of our goods in there.

We reduced about 10 liters to this small amount over a few days – but not with continuous heat.  I’m a big fan of making a stock in cycles – cooking, cooling, cooking, cooling.  Once my initial stock was made, I cooled it (I cool large batches in a pressure cooker with a locking lit left outside) before being skimmed and reduced some more (two reductions in total).  From there I’d continue to cool it (in a mason jar) before re-warming it (I’d let the mason jar sit in hot water in the sink), skimming, cooling, skimming and repeating so that I would have the clearest concentrate I could muster.  By the time I was done, my chilled concentrate stock completely jelled.

If you check out some of the previous posts, you’ll note that I’m a big believer in only letting a stock simmer lightly (not full-on boil).  If you do boil your stock, you’ll need to keep an eye on it to prevent burning (this wasn’t an issue for us).

Each of the cubes can be mixed with 1-2 cups of water or used almost like ‘browning’ in order to add flavor to other cooking.  I’m simply in love with the results and owe a giant thanks to Val for taking the time to suggest it – we’ll experiment with this type of thing a lot in the future!

One word of advice: if you’re using this as stock, make sure to add the cube before your liquid so that you can adjust your liquid and not having to use more cubes than you want to.  We made a Butternut squash soup over the Holidays that consisted of squash and water (and a few other flavors) and added 1 or 2 of these cubes (there were 30 in total) to bring the flavor ‘up’ a little.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to make better stock, here’s a guide to our best posts on the subject (including why we burn onions when we make it).

Any experience or tips out there in reducing stock like this – or do you do something different altogether?

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