We’re obsessed about homemade stock in our house. All the kids’ baby food was thinned with stock during weaning and we have a continuous supply in our freezer, in different sized compartments to suit our needs.
Stock is an easily-digestible nutrient-dense food. It’s an incredibly rich source of minerals (especially calcium and trace elements pulled from bone) all in the proper combinations to make them available throughout the body. It also contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons, things like glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates. Very healing and repairing to the gut it strengthens digestion, so you absorb even more nutrients. It helps build strong bones and teeth, boosts the immune system and nourishes the adrenal glands (great for an exhausted mum!).
Stock can be used for soups, stews, sauces and you can even use it to cook rice and grains, dramatically increasing their nutrient content. I recommend you avoid using commercial stocks. They often have lots of salt, and lack the rich, nutrient-dense bounty of gelatine contained in homemade stocks. Plus, to really extract all the goodness, real stock needs to be boiled for a very long time which just doesn’t happen with commercial products.
A cup of stock by itself is a traditional way of nourishment when someone is feeling unwell. It’s known as Jewish penicillin due to its remarkable immune-boosting properties and in Asia stock is believed to be the restorer of chi (life force) and supportive to the kidneys and adrenals. When my kids fall ill, I give them stock instead of water throughout the day to ensure they are getting a good dose of nutrients.
You can use any animal bones or make vegetarian stock, the recipe here is for chicken stock but you can easily substitute the chicken bones for beef, lamb, venison, fish etc or just use vegetables. All offer incredible health benefits.
It’s not the actual making the stock that takes time, it’s the cooking time – the longer the better to draw the nutrients out of the bones and vegetables. You also want to include some acid (lemon juice or vinegar is perfect) to draw even more minerals out of the bones.
I have different sized frozen stocks in my freezer – cubes to thin baby meals and offer as drinks, medium containers to cook grains and larger ones for adult soups. I especially love a spicy Thai soup made from homemade stock, it’s really tasty, healthy and the perfect antidote if you suspect you may be coming down with something. And try our French onion soup for a dose of anti-ageing nutrients.
Do have a go at making stock, it’s really easy and the health benefits by far outweigh any hassle. It’s so versatile and packed full of good nutrition.
|2 - 12 hours|
Good quality stock/broth is hard to buy. To make it really worthwhile and loaded with nutrients the bones should ideally be from organic, preferably pasture-fed animals. Lots of nutrients are released from the bones within two hours but if you can leave it for at least 12 hours, then you'll extract even more, especially the anti-ageing components.
- 1 carcass chicken or 500g roasted beef bones
- 3 litres boiling water
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 2 large red onions roughly chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 3 sticks celery
- 2 tbsp seaweed optional
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp black pepper corns
- 4 cloves garlic
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- Place the bones into a very large pan and fill with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and bring to the boil. Keep an eye out for any foam and remove with a spoon.
- Add in the other ingredients, put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer. The longer you can leave it the better. You may need to top up with water occasionally to ensure all the bones are submerged.
- Once the stock has simmered for some time, strain the liquid and leave to cool. Decant into jars or containers to store in the freezer.
- If using beef bones, once cooled the broth turns gel-like. This is normal and shows that it does indeed contain the gelatin you're looking for. Don't worry, it returns to a liquid once reheated.
- The stock will last in the fridge for around 4 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
We hope you enjoy having a batch of stock at home, it really is so easy so do give it a try and let us know how you get on in the comments below or on our facebook page and don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive more recipes, nutrition tips and expert advice.