On Stock Cookery: Essential Ingredients and Tools to Make Stock
What do you need to make stock? Not much, really. You can make stock with a small pile of bones and vegetable trimmings, but you can make stock with bones or vegetables as well. Of course you'll need some basic tools and spices are always nice to round out the flavors.
The essentials of stock are:
Technically, bones are optional — you can make vegetable-only stock. Bones add flavor, minerals, and thickening power.
An ideal mix is 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery.
Interestingly, vegetables are optional because you can make a bones-only stock. You can try other vegetables but either add them at the end or put them in a cheesecloth bag and take them out after 20 minutes or so. These vegetables will make stock a little murky if they cook too long, but they add a lot of flavor too: Garlic, asparagus trimmings, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, pepper trimmings, green beans, and broccoli. Fortunately, murky stock is STILL edible.
Spices and Herbs
At minimum, add black pepper to your stock. These are nice but not required: parsley stems, fresh thyme sprigs, and bay leafs. To add other dimension, consider: cardamom pods, fennel seeds, allspice berries, coriander seed, and star anise.
I don't recommend adding hot peppers or salt to your stock. These ingredients make it less versatile.
I am fond of using a crockpot, but you can use any large pot with a lid. Please do not use unglazed cast iron as you can over-extract iron from cast iron with long cooking times.
Cheesecloth or a fine strainer
You need to strain out all the stuff when the stock is done. I often just use a fine mesh strainer basket, but sometimes will line it with cheesecloth to get a cleaner result.
Fine Slotted Spoon
For skimming any film from the surface of the stock as it simmers
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