Of all my “prepper” hobbies, I would have to say that making stock is my absolute favorite. Many prepping activities fall under other categories that lend to making and preserving stock. Love to garden? Onions, carrots and celery are the basic building blocks of any stock I make. Vegetarian? Make a vegetable stock! Meat eater? Beef or game stock is amazing! As for bird stock, well, that's my favorite part of Thanksgiving turkey, the stock I make with the carcass afterwards!
Why Go to the Trouble When You Can Get Stock at the Grocery Store?
When I first started to expand my culinary skills, I noticed early on that I could never find a meat-based stock that didn't taste metallic if I purchased it in a can, or flavorless if from a carton. So, I decided to make my own. Once I was happy with the beef stock, I decided to make stock using chicken, and later turkey after a Thanksgiving meal. I'll admit, I never make vegetable stock or fish stock, but if you want to make those, they are great options as well. Also, if you do fish it is a great way to get the most out of your catch, which is what I do when I harvest an elk.
For the times when you harvest your garden, cook chicken, turkey, duck, etc., fish or hunt, consider setting time aside to make stock. Have the ingredients ready ahead of time so you can get started right away. If you plan to preserve your stock, have containers ready for the freezer, and canning equipment if you choose the latter method.
What Can I Use Stock For?
I use stock throughout the year. Any time I make a sauce that requires broth or stock, I can use my own; I love making an assortment of soups, from minestrone, turkey noodle, chicken noodle, roasted red pepper, French Onion, literally any soup recipe! It is also a great base for chili and stews. For recipes that call for a more robust flavor, I stick with elk stock, but feel free to use home made beef stock.
Turkey stock from the prior year is my base ingredient for the current year's gravy, and it requires hardly any seasoning at all. The seasonings you put on the bird drip into the stock. I only needed to add some cream and that was it. Of course, add thickening agents if you prefer a thicker gravy.
Tummy troubles? After a bout with a stomach bug or food poisoning, home-made stock is an amazing way to slowly re-hydrate a depleted body; in fact, the first thing I always craved was beef stock – even the canned version! Now, my younger son asks for that the first thing after he has had a stomach issue.
The benefits of making your own stock and food are numerous: you can reduce sodium and avoid negative reactions due to food sensitivities from an ingredient you may not know about, and you can also avoid chemicals and preservatives. You will know exactly what went into your stock, and keep OUT what you do not want in it.
When I make elk stock I always add large bones and let them sit in some water with apple cider vinegar to draw out the calcium. I make sure there is also plenty of marrow in the bones, and add connective tissue and that thin membrane on the scraps people throw in the trash. Throw it in the pot instead! Glucosamine, chondroitin, calcium and collagen all in one lovely stock. Now stores are also selling bone broth, but you will pay more for it, so why not use what you have and make your own?
What to do With the Leftover Ingredients?
While you can eat the leftover veggies and meat after making the stock, I don't recommend doing so, as they will be very mushy. I would use the leftovers for my dogs (be sure to remove all bones and onions first!) and they absolutely loved it. I also will give it to my chickens, as it makes a nice toasty meal for them, since I typically make stock during the cold weather seasons. My cats also love the turkey and elk bits!
In my next blog on the topic, I will get into the “How To” part of making stocks, and will include instructions, recipes and equipment needed. For now, I hope I have piqued your curiosity! Please follow my Facebook page, The Red Hot Chilly Prepper, and I have a podcast by the same name, find us on Anchor.fm. If you like what we do, please consider supporting us either on this page or on our podcast page.