Rock The Stock

Making stock is actually very easy and takes just a bit of time.  It is ideal for those on a budget who are looking to boost their health and their immune function in an economical and delicious way.  Stock is based on the innocent idea of “waste not, want not” but it also happens to effortlessly enhance the taste of your food and to provide you with so many vital minerals and vitamins.  If I feel a little under the weather or did not sleep enough the night before, I always pour myself a mug of stock, add a little salt and drink it up.  It never fails to invigorate and nourish me.

    The benefits of Stock:

-contains minerals of bone, marrow, cartilage; in particular, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sulfate, flouride, and sodium

-contains hydrophilic colloids (in gelatin): When colloids are heated they usually become hydrophobic, meaning they repel liquids making food harder to digest. However, the gelatin in stock is actually hydrophilic (it attracts water) even after it has been heated. This makes stock rich in gelatin a wonderfully effective digestive aid as it heals and coats the gastrointestinal lining.

-cartilage improves elasticity, and has been shown to be beneficial for improving joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Cartilage has also been shown to help fight against cancer and is very effective in boosting immune system function and nourishing the gut lining.

-collagen contains a high concentration of amino acids (mostly glycine, proline and lysine)

glycine: very important during pregnancy as the growing fetus demands 2-10 more times glycine than normal, helps in the creation of creatine (energy buffer and shuttles energy         across muscle tissue, in particular the heart), and has been shown to be very effective in helping to cleanse the liver (classified as a liver tonic)

proline: has been shown to have beneficial effects for memory and the prevention of depression

-gelatin aids in digestion, tones the blood, increases serum calcium levels, improves absorption and utilization of calcium and improves bone mineral density.

    How To Make Stock:


Chicken Stock

1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*

gizzards from one chicken (optional)

2-4 chicken feet (optional)

4 quarts cold filtered water (cold water rather than warm or hot water will maximize flavor and nutrients)

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 bunch parsley

*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

Beef Stock

about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones

1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)

3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones

4 or more quarts cold filtered water (cold water rather than warm or hot water will maximize flavor and nutrients)

1/2 cup vinegar

3 onions, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together

1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed

l bunch parsley

Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.

Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.

Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.

Fish Stock

3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper

2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

several sprigs fresh thyme

several sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

1/4 cup vinegar

about 3 quarts cold filtered water (cold water rather than warm or hot water will maximize flavor and nutrients)

Ideally, fish stock is made from the bones of sole or turbot. In Europe, you can buy these fish on the bone. The fish monger skins and filets the fish for you, giving you the filets for your evening meal and the bones for making the stock and final sauce. Unfortunately, in America sole arrives at the fish market preboned. But snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work equally well; and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body-these are especially rich in iodine and fat-soluble vitamins. Classic cooking texts advise against using oily fish such as salmon for making broth, probably because highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process.

Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Add the vegetables and cook very gently, about 1/2 hour, until they are soft. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish carcasses and cover with cold, filtered water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum and impurities as they rise to the top. Tie herbs together and add to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove carcasses with tongs or a slotted spoon and strain the liquid into pint-sized storage containers for refrigerator or freezer. Chill well in the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat before transferring to the freezer for long-term storage.

always skim!  The scum on the top of the liquid is a different kind of colloid (larger molecules) and will produce off-flavors.

Meat sauces are made from stocks that have been flavored and thickened in some way. Once you have learned the technique for making sauces-either clear sauces or thick gravies-you can ignore the recipe books and be guided by your imagination.

 All of the above recipes were sourced from the book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.

Reduction Sauces

Reduction Sauces are produced by rapid boiling of gelatinous stock to produce a thick, clear sauce. The first step is to “deglaze” coagulated meat juices in the roasting pan or skillet by adding 1/2 cup to 1 cup wine or brandy, bringing to a boil and stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen pan drippings. Then add 3 to 4 cups stock, bring to a boil and skim. (Use chicken stock for chicken dishes, beef stock for beef dishes, etc.) The sauce may now be flavored with any number of ingredients, such as vinegar, mustard, herbs, spices, fresh orange or lemon juice, naturally sweetened jam, garlic, tomato paste, grated ginger, grated lemon rind, creamed coconut, whole coconut milk or cultured cream. Let sauce boil vigorously, uncovered, until reduced by at least one half, or until desired thickness is achieved. You may add about 1-2 teaspoons gelatin to promote better thickening, although this should be avoided by those with MSG sensitivities (as gelatin contains small amounts of MSG). Another way to thicken is to mix 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons water. Gradually add this to the boiling sauce until the desired thickness is obtained. If sauce becomes too thick, thin with a little water. The final step in sauce-making is to taste and add sea salt if necessary.

Gravies are thickened with flour rather than by reduction. They are suitable for meats like roast chicken and turkey, which drip plenty of fat into the pan while cooking. After removing the roasting fowl and roasting rack, place pan on a burner. You should have at least 1/2 cup good fat drippings-if not, add some butter, goose fat or lard. Add about 1/2 cup unbleached flour to the fat and cook over medium high heat for several minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour turns light brown. Add 4 to 6 cups warm stock, bring to a boil and blend well with the fat-flour mixture, using a wire whisk. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or so. Check for seasonings and add sea salt and pepper if necessary. You may also add herbs, cream, butter, whole coconut milk or creamed coconut.


1. If you don’t have time to make stock and you need to use broth make sure you buy an organic brand that does NOT contain “hydrolyzed proteins”, which is yet another tricky name for MSG.  Proteins that have been hydrolyzed will form a base containing “free glutamic acid”, which is MSG. Naturally occurring glutamic acid, which is of course present in stock (and in meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and kombu), contains “left-handed” isomers and therefore is a precursor to neurotransmitters (ie: it is fundamentally involved in memory and learning).  However, synthetically produced glutamic acid, which contains “right-handed” isomers, may stimulate the nervous system in pathological ways.  Hence all of the health problems associated with MSG.

2. Skim the stock as you go. This will make sure you get all of the impurites out.

3. Make sure you don’t raise the temperature too high.  You want the stock to simmer and not boil.

4. Sometimes if you cook the stock too long it will lose it’s gelatinous quality.  For chicken stock up to 24 hours is ideal.

5. Always watch your water amount.  Too much water will reduce the gelatinous quality.

6. Sources for good knuckle bones, marrow bones, chicken feet and other meat parts are listed on our “Local Resources” page.

7. This is a great article on how stock works and was a source of much of the information presented here.

8. Bone broth is a medicine and a food.  Just like a tea, broth is made by removing active chemical ingredients into the water by means of heat, time and acid, making the nutrients immediately available to absorb.  Good stuff!


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