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Good stock

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With a little know-how, it’s easy to make your own good-quality stock – we have the tips and a recipe to get you started...

See our Homemade stock slideshow

Many stocks will solidify when chilled, due to the gelatine in the bones used, and some say this indicates a good homemade stock. But stocks made with very few bones can still have a good, strong flavour due to the other ingredients used, such as meats, herbs and vegetables.

See our recipe for Chicken stock

It’s important to get the proportions right. When making a beef stock, use a half-and-half mixture of economical cuts of beef and bones. Likewise, when making chicken stock, don’t rely on carcasses alone – add flavour in the form of wings and necks or, better still, use a whole old ‘boiler’ chicken, if you can find one.

Quality stock is essential for making good soup. Although it’s a little time consuming, making your own stock is well worth the extra effort. It’s fine to use stock cubes at a pinch, but for truly great results it’s best to make your own. Besides, the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find, and you can make a big batch and freeze it to use another day.

Stock tips
- Dried or fresh mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, leek, meat bones, inexpensive cuts of meat and unused ingredients, such as chicken carcasses, fish heads and prawn shells, make excellent bases for stock.
- Chop veges into large, uniform chunks – if they’re too small, they’ll disintegrate during the lengthy cooking.
- Don’t use starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, as these will make the stock cloudy. And avoid using brassicas (members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts), spinach, silverbeet and artichokes, which can impart a bitter, metallic taste.
- Herbs such as parsley and thyme add depth of flavour. Bayleaves contribute a sweet background flavour and are often used. Avoid strongly flavoured herbs and spices, which can be overwhelming.
- For extra depth of flavour, lightly fry or roast the vegetables and meat first.
- Use cold tap water for stock – half solids to half water is a good ratio.
- Cover with a lid to prevent too much liquid evaporating and simmer gently on low heat. Try not to let the stock boil or the fat will disperse through the stock and be impossible to skim off. Strain the stock as soon as possible after cooking.
- Vegetable and fish stocks take about 1 hour to cook, and chicken and beef stocks take 2-5 hours.

See some of our recipes that use stock.

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