Monday, May 13, 2013

Bones and Broth - The Health Benefits of Making Your Own Stock

It's a cold gray day today. It has been this way for 4 days straight. A change has definitely come from the serious dog days of this summer and I know we are all feeling the relief. On a day like this when I sit down to write about food and nutrition one thing keeps popping into my mind... bones. Bones for delicious and fortifying stalk of course. This also seems fitting considering Halloween is just around the corner and things such as this are a theme this time of year.

So with the weather and holiday acting as my inspiration, I want to share with you the secrets about why making your own stock is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your family this fall/winter. Making stock is an art form! From meat, to chicken to fish or from white stock to brown stock it builds health from head to toe and it turns everything you cook into a more full-bodied, full of love dish. It also makes your house smell extra homey... well maybe with the exclusion of fish stock! Making stock also prevents waste of one of the most mineral rich parts of any animal. And who could use a few more minerals? Everyone!

I think a lot of people feel intimidated about making stock. However, once you make it one or two times the mystery and intimidation subsides. It does take a few tries to figure out your stock making style, but there is no reason to fear it. It is actually really fun to keep notes on how you make each batch and what the end result of each batch is. Then you can mix and match techniques to come up with your own stock style. Like I said earlier, stock making is an art form. This is something you can do while you are on the internet, watching TV, cleaning the house, or whatever else you spend too many hours doing. It's a great way to multitask.

So before I go any further I am going to give you the top ten reasons I want you to include nutritious homemade stock in your diet. Then I am going to tell you how to make the stuff.

Top 10 Reasons you Want to Include Homemade Stock in your Diet

  • Gelatin, found in large quantities in homemade stock, acts as a digestive aid and has been used successfully in the treatment of many digestive disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis, and chrohn's disease. Gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.

  • The cartilage and collagen, from the bones stock is made from, have been used in the treatment of bone disorders and to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

  • Rich chicken broth, often called the famous jewish penicillin, is used as a remedy for the flu. Stock helps prevent and mitigate infectious diseases. They found that some components of the chicken stock inhibit neutrophil migration, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness.

  • Fish broth, made with fish heads, in quite rich in iodine. This mineral is very important to the healthy function of the thyroid gland, the gland that regulates metabolism and energy.

  • Stock adds immense flavor to our food and can be turned into a satisfying sauce just by adding herbs, wine, and butter and then reducing by boiling down.

  • Stock is the start of culinary magic and the crux of all cooking. Cook anything with stock to make it richer and more nutrient dense.

  • Stock feeds, repairs and calms the mucous lining of the small intestine. This can reduce allergies by building up the protective mucous membrane lining of the GI tract.

  • Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily, calcium being a big one but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.

  • Gelatin in properly made broth helps the body use protein in a more efficient way. Stock has been used throughout history when meat was not available or affordable to help one stretch his use of other proteins in the diet.

  • Many commercial stocks do not contain the gelatin and mineral potential that homemade stock can contain.

Important Things to Remember When Making Stock

  • Always start with cold water

  • Add acid (2 tsp. vinegar, 2 Tbs. lemon or 1 cup white wine) to your stock water to enhance mineral leaching

  • Add mirepoix (2:1:1 Onion, carrot, celery) and herb sachet (1 bay leaf, 6 peppercorns and 3 parsley stems) for flavor and nutrients

  • Simmer the stock gently, do not allow it to boil

  • Skim your broth from impurities that develop as you cook

  • Do not salt your stock. Salt your finished stock-based dish. If you reduce a salted stock you have a very salty end product

  • Simmer fish for 1-2 hours, chicken for at least 4 hours, and meat bones for 6-8 hours

  • Remove the fat from the cooled stock before freezing or leave it on while storing in the fridge to increase shelf life

  • Store in variously sized containers in the freezer for easy use

White Stock (non-caramelized, clear color and lighter flavor)

5 lbs. bones (veal or beef) or 1 poultry carcass or 1-2 non oily fish carcasses and/or crustacean shells
1 gallon cold Water (or enough to cover bones)
1 lb. mirepoix
1 herbal sachet Acid (see above)

Cut the bones into 3-4 inch pieces. Place the bones in a stock pot and cover them with cold water. Add acid and soak for 30 minutes Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer immediately and skim any scum that forms. Add the mirepoix and herb sachet to the simmering stock. Continue simmering and skimming for the time listed above based on what the stock is being made from. Strain, cool, and refrigerate

Brown Stock (caramelized, dark color and richer flavor)

5 lbs. bones (veal or beef) or 1 poultry carcass
1 gallon cold Water (or enough to cover bones)
1 lb. mirepoix
2 oz. tomato paste
1 herbal sachet Acid (see above for options)

Place the bones in a roasting pan one layer deep, and brown in a 375 degree oven. Turn the bones occasionally to brown them evenly. Remove the bones and place them in a stock pot. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan and reserve it. Deglaze the roasting pan with part of the cold water. Add the deglazing liquor and the rest of the cold water to the bones, covering them completely. Add acid and soak for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer immediately and skim any scum that forms. Add a portion of the reserved fat to the roasting pan and saute the mirepoix until evenly browned. Add the tomato paste to the caramelized mirepoix and mix. Then add to the simmering stock. Add the sachet to the stock. Continue simmering and skimming for the time listed above based on what the stock is being made from. Strain, cool, and refrigerate

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