Clippings by rdwright

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RE: Making Stocks (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: arley on 04.17.2007 at 11:07 am in Cooking Forum

A few things to note about making and storing stock:

My general guideline is about 1 to 1.5 pounds of chicken bones/parts per quart of stock.

Whatever recipe you use, you want a long slow simmer to allow time for all the connective tissue to break down and make the stock richer and full of gelatin--at least 3 hours for chicken stock, and 4 or 5 is better. Boiling the stock makes it cloudy.

If you're in a hurry, you can use a pressure cooker or pressure canner to make stock. The stock won't be as clear or as delicate as the slow cooked type, but it'll still be tasty and quite useful. For a lot of applications (making risotto, for instance, or a hearty stew or soup) the stock's clarity is unimportant.

If you plan on freezing the stock, it's important to cool it rapidly prior to freezing. Putting a huge stockpot of hot broth in the fridge to cool is a recipe for contamination. Germs thrive in lukewarm stock. Put the stockpot in an icebath in the sink, or put it into smaller containers that can cool rapidly.

I do can my stock, and here's a method that seems to work well. I bought a stockpot with a spigot on the bottom. I put all the bones/carcasses/vegetables in the stockpot and let it simmer for hours. In the meantime I clean and rinse all my canning jars and put them in the oven at about 200 degrees. I get the pressure canner ready. When it's time to can, I just open the spigot and fill the jars, put the lids on them and put them in the canner and process them.

This has the advantage of not having to chill the stock then degrease it; the fat in the stock rises to the top, and the spigot draws the stock off from the bottom, so I never get fat in the canned stock itself. Because the stock stays hot the whole time, it never goes into the 'danger zone' for contamination.

If you cook with a lot of stock and you want to can your batches of stock, a stockpot with a spigot is a very useful tool. Do a google search for 'stockpot with spigot' and you'll find several. Another source is homebrew supply stores; homebrewers use similar pots to drain the wort into the fermenter without siphoning.

I've made several batches over the years and haven't had a spoiled jar yet. You do have to be scrupulous about cleanliness and other aspects of food safety--never use old lids, always process the jars for at least the recommended times, don't take any shortcuts, etc. Get the Ball Blue Book, and check out internet canning sites (such as missvickie.com) and the Gardenweb Harvest forum.

The advantages of canning, for me, outweigh the hassles. Stock can be stored without taking up freezer space, and it's instantly available without having to wait for it to thaw--just open the jar. I also am absolutely sure of everything that goes into it; I use no salt at all. As far as how long it lasts, most canning authorities recommend using the product within a year. I cook with so much stock that any given batch usually doesn't last a year, but I recently ran across a jar that was about 2 years old. It was fine.

If you're in the market for a pressure canner, I can heartily recommend the WAFCO All-American Pressure canners. They're built like a mack truck... it'll outlast you, and your great-grandchildren will be fighting over it. I had the model 915 which could process 7 quart jars at a time, but I gave it away to a relative and bought the model 930 which can process 14 quart jars at a time. Well worth the difference in price, because it doubles your productivity. For the about same amount of time spent, you produce twice as many items. The link is to Lehman's (and I've always had good experiences with them), but several online merchants carry the All American canners. If you have the storage space, spring for one.

A thanksgiving tradition has evolved at my household. I usually have a smoked turkey (homemade or store-bought) and I cook a few ducks as well. I save the trimmings and carcasses and scraps from all the birds and make a wonderfully rich stock that is potent enough to raise the dead. Great stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: All american pressure canners

NOTES:

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clipped on: 05.21.2007 at 11:12 am    last updated on: 05.21.2007 at 11:13 am