There are a few basic rules to remember when making stock. First, all the ingredients should be very fresh and of good quality. The stock should be simmered for several hours to give a well-flavored, full-bodied consistency.
Secondly, never allow a stock to boil rapidly as this will spoil the clarity of it. A long, slow simmer produces a much better result. The longer the stock is cooked, the better the flavor, as the liquid reduces during cooking which concentrates the taste and makes it more likely that the stock will gel.
Never add salt until you are actually using the stock, as cooking and reducing the stock will concentrate the flavor and you could end up with very salty stock.
Always use a pan with a tight-fitting lid to ensure that the liquid does not evaporate too much, but allow the stock to cool with the lid half on.
It is important to remove any excess fat from meat and bones before cooking to prevent the stock becoming greasy. Once the stock is cooked, leave it to cool, then refrigerate for a couple of hours, when any fat will settle on the surface. It may then be removed by skimming it off with a flat spoon. Alternatively, use absorbent kitchen paper to soak up the fat from the surface of the stock.
The finished stock should not be kept for more than 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator without reboiling for 10-15 minutes. The best thing to do is to make a large quantity of stock at one time and freeze it in ice cube trays or small containers so it is ready to hand when needed. When it has been made and strained, boil the stock hard to reduce and concentrate it before freezing so that it takes up less space in the freezer.
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