If all you know is store-bought stock, wait until you discover how versatile and delicious the homemade variety can be. It’s also a smart way to reduce food waste: chicken carcasses, beef bones, carrot tops, potato skins, and herb stems are fair game. Just be sure to store them in the freezer until it’s cooking time.
Jackie Dikos, a registered dietitian and the author of Finish Line Fueling, loves chicken and beef stock for their amino-acid profiles. Glutamine supports the body when it’s stressed and promotes recovery, while glycine aids digestion. Vegetable broth, meanwhile, is rich in minerals. Magnesium helps with energy production and is a known stress reducer, while zinc and copper support the immune system. Dikos simmers her stock in a slow cooker overnight or starts it first thing in the morning so it’s ready by dinnertime. Here’s how to do it yourself.
- 5 pounds meaty chicken or beef bones (optional)
- Enough chopped fresh vegetables or frozen veggie scraps to nearly fill the pot
- 3 or 4 aromatic additions such as 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, and 3 parsley or thyme sprigs
- Salt to taste
If you’re using the bones, place them at the bottom of a large stockpot, slow cooker, or Dutch oven. Scatter the veggies, herbs, and any spices on top. Add enough water to cover the ingredients, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook on low, uncovered, for at least eight hours. Add salt to taste. Let cool, then strain into a storage container using a fine-mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Stock can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to three months.