Homemade bone stock or broth should become a staple for anyone who’s starting a journey into the Paleo diet and lifestyle. If you’ve never had it, you’ll discover that you can use it regularly for soups, sauces, stews, curries and just about any dish that requires cooking a piece of meat or vegetable in a liquid.
Bone stock or broth might be about the last nutrition powerhouse that a lot of Paleo dieters aren’t making use of. Bones should be a main constituent of your diet along with fresh meat and fat from animals, organ meats and nutrients from fruits and vegetables. They’re also dirt cheap, literally, coming in pound for pound at a lower cost than topsoil. If you utilise all the bones from the meat you eat, you’ll be getting them free. This reason alone is enough for you to consider choosing bone-in meats when you can. If you don’t, you can still ask your butcher for bones and he’ll be happy to sell you some for a very low price.
You can make stock or broth from virtually any kind of bones including those from chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and fish. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to game meat, wild animals have some of the healthiest bones because they eat a diet that’s evolutionarily correct for their digestive systems. Their bones contain all the nutrients they need, and game makes delicious stock.
Bone stock contains 2 important amino acids – proline and glycine – in addition to minerals and collagen.
A good stock will be gelatinous after it has been cooled. Concentrated stock where a great part of the gelatin has been extracted from the bones will be thick and gelatinous when cold.
Recipe for a great homemade stock
If you’re not a big fan of precise recipes when there is no need for them, and you favour simplicity, stock making may become a habit for you because it’s easy, versatile, nourishing, and delicious.
A lot of people will tell you to skim the froth that forms at the surface of a stock as it cooks, but it’s harmless. Skimming the foam or “scum” as it’s sometimes called, is simply a matter of culinary preference and is done to create a clear broth or stock. If you don’t mind the way it looks, leave it and all the goodness that it might contain.
People also like to remove the congealed fat that forms at the top when the stock is cooled. You should leave it in particularly if eating grass fed and pastured animals, the fat will be healthy for you.
Time frame for cooking the stock
Allow around 4 hours for chicken stock and a minimum of 6 hours for other, tougher bones. You can easily let it go for much longer if you want to extract more taste and nutrients from the bones, as much as 48 hours. Just make sure you add water as it evaporates and continue drawing out the concentration.
Chicken bones are more fragile and after 24 hours there won’t be much left.
Seasoning the stock
Seasoning should be done near the end of the cook time or you can wait to season your stock as you use it in recipes.
If you’re not skilled with seasonings, it’s best to experiment with a small amount before seasoning the entire pot. You’ll discover different flavours that you may enjoy for a variety of dishes.
French people always come up with great names when it comes to cooking. Use mirepoix for sauces and bouquet garni for soups and stews.
Storing your stock
After your stock is cooked, it’s a good idea to cool it quickly because bacteria will multiply rapidly.
Putting the hot pot directly into the refrigerator will raise the refrigerator temperature to unsafe levels for food. Instead, take the whole pot and put it in a sink filled with cold water.
After it has been cooled, separate what you plan to use right away and put it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week. Use the smell test. If it smells good, it should be fine. If you’re not sure, re-boil it to kill any bacteria.
Store the rest in the freezer. If you’ve made a very large pot, it’s convenient to store the remainder in one cup portions so you can defrost them as needed.