We’ve already established that I hate waste. I’ll eat leftovers until they are gone (barring mold or odd smells), I at least attempt to mend up clothes and appliances… and I put onion skins and garlic skins and bell pepper cores into plastic baggies in my freezer. And when a couple of baggies are full, I make a pot of stock.
And that time has come again! I made stock recently, and in addition to copious veggie scraps, this time around I also had the bones etc. from a chicken I roasted earlier this summer. All of it, into the pot! (Well, not the organs; that’s still a bit weird even for me. But bones, skin, yup, chuck it in there.)
Normally I’d throw all of this into my crock pot, cover with water, add some whole peppercorns and a bay leaf and put it on low overnight. But this time I had so much good stuff to simmer that I knew my crock pot wouldn’t be nearly big enough.
So this batch I simmered in my actual stock pot. Brought everything to a boil, then turned down to a simmer for five-ish hours. Would have left it longer but there’s this thing where at some point I do need to sleep.
Freezer Scraps Chicken Stock
2 sandwich-sized plastic baggies filled with veggie scraps*
Bones and skin (raw and/or cooked) of one chicken**
10-ish whole black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
(Nope, I don’t put salt in my stock. One could, of course, but I prefer to add it to the final dish to taste, so I don’t see the point in adding it at this stage.)
*Whenever I’m chopping onions, or mincing garlic, or peeling carrots, I keep the skins and ends and toss them in a baggie in my freezer. If it’s something I wash, like carrots or potatoes, I make sure to wash it very well, knowing the outsides are destined to be food, too, and not just trash. If it’s something I peel without washing, like onions and garlic, I just pick out any skins that look dirty. It’s all getting boiled so it doesn’t bother me, though I recognize this method may not be for everyone. This particular batch of stock had carrot tops, onion skins, garlic skins, cores of some red and green bell peppers, the stems of some parsley, some zucchini ends… perhaps more. I steer clear of any of the especially odorous vegetables; broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, even kale stems I leave out.
**If you’re omitting the chicken to make this a vegetable stock, you might consider adding a few teaspoons of soy sauce; I’ve seen this recommended a couple of places, though admittedly have not yet tried it myself. Also, I really like sweet potato peels in a veggie stock, they lend flavor of course but also great color.
- If you have time, take your vegetables and chicken scraps down from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
- Place your vegetable scraps and chicken bones into a large stockpot, or your crockpot.
- Fill your pot with water (leaving a few inches of room to be able to stir it, of course! 😉
- Add your whole peppercorns and dried bay leaf to the pot.
- If using stockpot: Cover pot and heat water to boiling, then turn down to a simmer. Angle the lid on the pot for a small opening to let steam out, and simmer for 5-8 hours, stirring occasionally.
- If using crockpot: cover crockpot and set to low for 8-12 hours, or high for 5-8. (You can’t really let this go too long, so don’t worry about being exact about timing.)
When your stock is done (or you are out of time to let it simmer, ha), remove the vegetables and bones from the stock by pouring it through a strainer into your largest available pot. If you press on the scraps your stock will be cloudier, but you will get a bit more stock as well.***
- Cover the pot of strained stock and move it to an ice chest filled about 1/3 full with ice (if you have one that will also then fit inside your refrigerator, all the better). You want to cool this down as quickly as possible to prevent any undesirable bacteria from making a home in your delicious, warm stock.
- Once stock has cooled (I let this cool inside the ice chest inside the refrigerator overnight), scoop/skim off the fat layer that will have congealed on the top of the liquid. (This layer won’t form if you’re making vegetable stock, naturally.) (Also, chicken fat in this form is called “schmaltz”, and if refrigerated on its own for no more than a week or so, can be used as one would use reserved bacon grease, namely to fry up delicious things like potatoes and, well, pretty much anything else savory that you would want to pan-fry.)
***Even if you don’t press on the solids, unless you strain your stock really well multiple times, you are most likely going to have some sediment in your finished stock. No problem, though, just let your stock settle in its final container before using, then pour slowly so as to leave as much sediment as possible in the bottom of the container.
Your stock is now ready to use! Normally I would put stock away by freezing it in batches in an ice cube tray, and in some plastic tupperware for larger portions. However, this time around I already had quite a bit of stock in my freezer, both chicken and veggie, so this stock was destined for other purposes: soup!
I’ll post the soups I have in mind for this stock in a couple of days, Kakz. Until then!