The words “Free” and “Homemade” and “Scraps” usually don’t go together. “Free” could mean worthless, “Homemade” can be overwhelming, and “Scraps” mean trash. But you CAN make Free Homemade stock with ingredients you will have in your kitchen at some point, and it’s easy to make.
The key to FREE is the scraps. Don’t throw it away. Keep it and freeze it until you need it. It’s take a little preparation and time, but you’ll have the ingredients to make stock soon (and it will be FREE). When I need some stock, I just go to my freezer.
And “homemade stock” sounds SO IMPRESSIVE. But between you and me, it’s easy and free.
What scraps should you save?
The parts of a vegetable or meat bones you don’t use or eat that you usually throw away. These parts are still full of flavor, and you already spent money on it – so don’t throw it away.
What scraps should you save in a freezer bag and freeze?
- The ends of fresh veggies. For example, when I cut off the ends of an onion, instead of throwing that part away, I put it in a freezer bag or container and keep it in the freezer for later (and label it).
- The large ends of a carrot
- The inside ribs and tops of a bell pepper
- The base or white end of celery
- A fresh veggie that is about to go bad but is still good. If it’s still good but you won’t be using it soon, freeze it.
- Bones from a steak. I cut out the bone (sometimes before and sometimes after I cook it). Keep the bones in a freezer bag (and mark it cooked or uncooked – keep these separate)
- The tips of the wings of a chicken (make sure you label this as uncooked chicken).
- After you cook a whole chicken or buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, don’t throw away the bones. Freeze this too (and label this as cooked chicken).
- Whether you grow your own herbs or buy full herbs on the stems, you will use only the leaves for meal. Don’t throw away the stems. They are packed with flavor. Keep them in their own bags in the freezer.
Scraps will add up quickly!
How to make FREE Stock
- Gather enough scraps in your freezer (fresh veggie scraps, chicken or steak scraps, herbs scraps), and then defrost them.
- If using an uncooked raw item, saute it until cooked (you don’t have to use meat for this stock- it can be just veggies and herbs stock).
- Saute the scrap veggies just a bit to get some color. Don’t over cook them. This develops a more robust flavor.
- Fill a stockpot with water and add the meat (if any), veggies and herb stems (if you don’t have scrap herbs, you can just use dry Italian seasoning or whatever spices you have on hand. Hey, how about that extra ramen noodle “flavor” packet you have lying around, sure, use it, I know you have one!)
- Add a little salt and pepper. And if you have it, add a bay leaf and peppercorns.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer a few hours until the water is a nice color and flavorful.
- Strain the stock water into a container removing all the scraps and anything you added. Use a cheesecloth if you have it.
- Put the stock in an air-tight container (I put mine in mason jars that I buy my pasta sauces in. Remember to clean them thoroughly – free tip) and keep in the fridge, use it tonight, or you can freeze the stock for late use.
What can you use the stock for?
- I use the stock in place of water in a lot of my cooking
- I cook my rice in stock instead of just water
- Ramen Noodle soup instead of the “flavor” packet (but keep the packet! You never know when you can use it to spice up a meal – another free tip)
- Flavored slurry for a thickening agent
- Hydrate and cook dry beans
- When cooking frozen veggies and it says to add a tablespoon or two of water, use the stock!
- Poaching chicken breasts
If I spent my hard earned money on it, I’m going use it!
And if you don’t use the stock, make sure you Freeze Your Stock Into Perfect Portions.