Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6 March 1954 “Making the Building Block of Cooking: Stock”

       By the 1950’s, soup and stock were readily available in many forms; cans, bouillon cubes, even frozen. Here is a lovely little recipe for Clam Bouillon gelatin using canned stock bouillon.

     Broth, in many ways, is the main building block of cooking. It is the base for soups, gravies, sauces, is added to other meats and stews and cooking meats. It can be used to prepare rice and vegetables in to add flavor. It is a sort of starting point to really learning to cook.. And in most cases by the late 1950’s broth, that cook’s building block, wasn’t even needed.

It was simply replaced with some of its end results of soups, gravies, and sauces, and flaovrings to add to meats prepared,canned, frozen or powdered and easily put on the pantry shelf for the young homemakers. It was another of the initial steps of removing a simple step in the cooking process so that many meals and dishes would seem to be separate products, rather than simply the result of using broth in different ways.

After WWII, the industry of food and preserving it for long shelf life and travel to our boy’s overseas, laid the foundation for the beginning of the agri-business food has grown into today. By mid decade it was probably normal for a middle class family to have a mix of canned prepared soups, some made with bouillon cube starters and a few more made from scratch. Most likely more often than not, the homemade soups from homemade bone stewed stock, came from Grandma’s house or for holidays.
campbellsadCampbell’s is probably the most recognized canned soup from the decade. So much so that we know by the 60’s Pop artist Warhol used it for its highly recognizable imagery.
Here is a commercial for “Scotch Broth” from Campbell's. In Britain, a broth is defined as a soup in which there are solid pieces of meat or fish, along with some vegetables. In America we often differentiate between broth, usually made from portions of animal meat, and stock often made from vegetable scraps and bones.

This is the recipe for Scotch Broth that I use. (I found it online somewhere during the 1957 year):
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 carrots, sliced 3/4 inch thick
  • 1 lb kale, stems and center ribs cut off and discarded and leaves finely chopped (4 cups)
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (24 fl oz)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 tablespoon malt vinegar or cider vinegar
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then cook lamb, breaking up clumps with a fork, just until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Transfer lamb to a bowl with a slotted spoon and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan and cook onions, carrots, kale, bay leaf, salt, and pepper over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add broth, water, and barley and simmer, covered, until vegetables and barley are tender, about 10 minutes. Add lamb and vinegar and gently simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes (for flavors to blend). Discard bay leaf.
This commercial for Anderson Soup from 1957 happily shows an animation featuring manufactured or factory made soup. It is meant to show how one of a kind or original their canned soup is, but in fact points out how by the end of the decade canned soup and factory made food is really accepted as the norm. Pre WWII this would not have been as much the case.

Now, as I mentioned before, stock is really a good building block for most cooking. If we take the time to save the bones from our cooked meats and freeze or refrigerate them until we make our stock, this is the most economical. We can also buy bones of various parts of the animal at local butcher shops. Obviously the more naturally raised animals, such as grass feed and not treated with hormones and such, the better. Though, this is not always possible, it is still preferable, I believe, to make your own stock for your kitchen with leftover bones and meat scraps then to rely on pre-made stocks or packaged bouillon or powders, which you can be certain are full of chemicals. Also, considering the economy, rather than throw those bones away, use them to make more food. That really is a way to stretch your food budget.
I do plan on talking about rendering our own fats and lard, but wanted stock to be it’s own post. I was happy to see that my invitation to others to share their stock making did result in some good advice. Although those replies are in the comments of the last post, I felt it important to place them here in this post.
One follower, Dee, shares with us the following:
When we have a turkey I get more excited about the stock I will make from the bones than I do the meal LOL! I also add the vinegar. I save all the "bits" from the bottom of the pan when I cook meat and add to a "broth jar" in the freezer along with veg leftovers to add when I make broth. I love the challenge of not wasting ;o)
One thing I wanted to mention - I use bacon grease/fat for 1/4 to 1/2 of the shortening in molasses cookies. I learned this from my mom and grandma. Try it - you won't believe how delicious they are.
Follower Caitlyn uses this method:
My current stock method is producing great results, but I'm anxious to get more tips. Usually every Sunday I roast a whole chicken and the next day I use the bones to make stock after I have picked all of the meat from the chicken and set it aside for other dishes during the week. I take the bones, skin, and any other bits from the chicken (I don't fret about making the bones completely clean, little bits of meat add some flavor, and the bits of skin help the stock to gel). I put all of the bones in a large stockpot and cover with water, and add 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar. I let the stock simmer for about 8-10 hours, skim and stir frequently, and then strain it. Sometimes I add veggie odds and ends but I find I quite like the stock just made with the bones (generally I put garlic, onions, and lemons in the cavity when I roast the chicken, and I just toss those into the stock as well... not very picky around here :) When I use this method I find that the stock gels nicely and has great flavor.
I also reuse the bones several times. After I make stock I just let them cool and put them in the freezer to add to the bones from the next week. Although my freezer space is limited I make room for this because it really adds to the stock.
Robin V does the following Crockpot version:
When I make stock the beef or chicken fat is rendered naturally in the process I use. Last time I used the beef tallow to make suet cakes as little gifts for my mom's and grandma's birds - I wrapped them in wax paper and tied with jute twine. They looked pretty, and with the birds they were a hit! The tallow comes out so firm, clean, and pretty though, I've considered trying to make candles. So many different things to try! The kitchen is such an interesting place!
I started making stock in the crockpot and will never go back. You don't have to add more water or anything while it's cooking.
For chicken/turkey I buy a whole chicken, or use the carcass after thanksgiving. I also cook chicken breasts for my lunch every week, so I've been saving the bones from that too.
I add an onion and some carrots, fresh parsley if I have it. I let it cook overnight (usually about 12-16 hrs). I then strain through cheesecloth (one of my big pots has a steamer insert - I line that with cheesecloth and the broth goes through into the pot). If I used a whole chicken I will discard the bones and shred up the chicken - makes great sandwiches, and is also good to freeze - I can use it later in tortillas, quesadillas, on salads, as chicken salad, etc etc. The stock goes in the fridge. By evening the fat is usually solidified on top - I take it off (turkey is much more difficult than chicken - it's greasier or something. Beef comes up in a clean, solid sheet) and freeze the stock.
My method for beef stock is the same - I buy beef soup bones (or save the bones if we have ribs), roast them with some onions and carrots for a half-hour or so, then put them in the crockpot. I usually add some apple cider vinegar and ground cloves. I also save any meat from the bones - my husband and I think it is incredibly delicious!
So nice to be able to talk to others about this stuff
Here is my base recipe to making my  basic meat stock. I also make brown stock and sometimes (for my vegetarian guests) vegetable stock:
Meat Stock Recipe (Makes 1/2 gallon)
  • 4 pounds of bones – chicken, veal, beef, or pork, or lamb or whatever
  • 1/2 cup onions, cut about 1″
  • 1/2 cup carrots cut in 1″
  • 1/4 celery, cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2  stems of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2  teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • Cold water to cover, about 3 quarts
Now this first bit might seem odd and isn’t always necessary. But, if you are trying to make a good all round clear meat stock to use in Many things, this is what I do.
1. Take the bones and boil until all the meat is loose and clear from the bones. This boil is meant to clean off the bones BEFORE you make the stock. Boiling stock makes it cloudy, but as this is a pre-stock procedure, I simply for the sake of time boil. Now you have a cloudy meat filled broth. This I pour out, let cool and either save in a canning jar or use to cook whatever meat I have going for that nights dinner. We try to use all we can in the kitchen.
2.Now to these bones, which we have just boiled out all the bits of meat and blood etc, add your cold water. It might seem odd, again, that I have kept the ‘good meat bits’ from the stock making, but again that boiled bit containing all that goes back to the next meat being cooked and so will impart flavor there. But in making a true stock, leaving that would make the stock cloudy or often foamy or with ‘scum’ on top to be removed. So, add your cold water to the ‘cleaned’ bones. Wait until it is just about to boil, a few bubbles will appear, and then turn way down to JUST a simmer.
4.The amount of time to simmer is roughly dependent upon the types of bones you are using. The general rule of thumb is 3 hours for chicken, 5 hours for pork, 7 hours for beef. If it’s a mixture of all these, then somewhere in the middle. Now, when stock making I make sure I have other at home chores or projects to do. And that way every so often, I pop in look at my simmer stock and then skim off any scum or fat that floats to the top. Remember this is traditional clear base stock we are making.
5.When we reach One hour before the end of the allotted time (based on type of bone and you can add a little water if it looks like it is simmering down too much) add your vegetables and herbs. (some put the herbs in a sachet, but it isn’t necessary).
6.after that hour taste your stock. It should not be strong or really something to eat as is, it is meant to be the base to build your dinners upon. Strain out the bones etc and then strain once through cheesecloth and decant in canning jars and ice cube trays. That way you can freeze some and keep them longer in the freezer. This clear pure broth is really worth the work. But the simpler methods of keeping all the meat and such together can be fine as well, but that is more what I do for my brown stock.
Now, brown stock is a stronger richer stock. You would use it in stews and heavier soups or gravies or sauces. I basically do the above but instead of boiling and removing the meat and bits from the bone at first, I take my bones and rub them with oil, say olive oil. or sometimes I take the white fat I talked about last blog post that I save from the tops of letting drippings set. Really rub and soak the bones then place them on a cookie sheet/jelly roll in a hot 425 F oven until they begin to brown and smell like heaven!
Next you do as in 2. above and simmer the bones in the cold water. But while that is happening, caramelize the vegetables in a pan with about 1/2 cup of tomato paste. Usually caramelizing these types of veg you start with the onions in some butter until clear, then add the carrots, and celery last until they are tender. They will be really strong, but remember they are going to be added to the brown stock to make a stronger all round stock. Store the same, some in jars and some as ice cubes.
You can even boil your bones a second time and make a thinner stock as well. Just remember to label your stocks so you know what is what, though the brown stock is darker and richer, but a second boiling of bones should be labeled as such as it will be much less strong flavor, but still good to use in soups, cooking rice and so on.
I found this interesting way of stock making on youtube that I thought I would share with you. This is an interesting approach and a good tutorial on making stocks. There are a few differences that I do, as mentioned above,  but I find her procedure seems quite good and I might try her version. Relly one should have no fear in such endeavours when we consider that often most of this was simply thought of as waste or garbage before. IF you are impatient or don’t have much time, try it quicker or other ways. You may have just tossed out those bones anyway, so why not give it some trial runs and find what works for you. The more we use the less we need to spend. And the more we begin to make the connections between what goes into cooking what may seem a various assortment of foods into really a few easily connected procedures in the kitchen, the more wonderful meals will become easier to make, less to buy for, and more satisfaction in ourselves. So, next time you are making that dinner look at your ‘waste’ before you toss it out and consider, “what can I make from this?” Even our breadcrumbs from cutting bread can be saved for, well, breadcrumbs. And heels of bread and leftover hard bits of cake and sweets also should be saved, as these make wonderful bread puddings and the like.
I think as our economy continues to be questionable and we all strive to make do with less and to make more out of what we have, looking to the basics of cooking and understanding how we once cooked can only be a boon to our lives.
Happy homemaking and happy Stock making!


  1. I watched a well known TV chef demonstrate her method of making homemade chicken stock. She plunked a whole plump chicken into the stock pot, but after it was cooked a few hours, she said the meat was "not of any use" and recommended it be thrown away. I almost passed out. Yes, I've used a whole chicken to make stock BUT I also used the cooked meat! However, I do prefer to make stock/broth from the remnants of a meal, and yes, you are right, you can really stretch your food dollars by doing so. I LOVE making my homemade broths/stocks!

    Kathleen in IL

  2. Excellent post! I really commend your extensive research - I can tell how much work you put into this!

    Thanks for quoting me - I feel a little bit famous now. :)

    -Robyn V

  3. By the way, here is a new post from another blog I follow: Lard Rendering in Photos. Thought you'd be interested.

    I am not in any way affiliated with this blog - I just stumbled across it a few weeks ago.
    -Robyn V

  4. Kathleen in IL,

    I don't know the celebrity chef you are talking about, but I would make a good bet that the chicken was hard boiled (rolling boil) for far too long rendering the chicken meat a somewhat tough or dry, yet edible. I like to poach the whole bird (simmer/barely boiling), so that the cooked meat is succulent and tender. I agree that bones (with a bit of meat still left on them) produce some of the best stock.

  5. It is usually a good rule of thumb to NOT boil when making stock. It won't hurt or ruin it but a much more delicate flavor is imparted with slow simmer for longer time.
    Using one's crock pot sounds a brilliant scheme and I will have to give that a go as well.
    Robyn, I will check out that blog and see how she does it. If she gives good tutorial, then perhaps I will see if we can link to her. If I do it a bit different I can compare and contrast.
    The 'tv chef' could have, at the very least, saved the chicken for good wholesome dog food!

  6. I tried the crockpot method previously and never could get the broth to taste as deep and rich as simmering it on the stovetop. I don't know why.



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