Stock may be a culinary friend you only tend to make nice with while the weather is cold, but we here at Porter Road Butcher know the value that this delicious and healthful cooking staple contains all year round.
Sure, stock is usually employed in heartier dishes that require braising, are chosen as the foundation of a soup, or are selected to saucify your favorite glaze, but stocks don’t have to be limited to cold-weather cooking.
Most simply, stock is nutritious flavored water that adds both richness and minerals to whatever you’re cooking; why wouldn’t you use it? Your health and flavor points are skyrocketing.
The beauty of a properly prepared stock—and let’s be honest, we Porter Road butchers obviously prepare our stocks properly—is that it contains tons of nutrients and minerals served in a form where they can be easily absorbed. It’s one of your most healing diet staples.
After steadily boiling on the stove for a long period of time, the minerals from the bones, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables are released into the broth in the form of electrolytes (essentially salts) that you wouldn’t otherwise take in if served in a different form. Furthermore, adding wine, vinegar, or other acidic ingredients (like the red wine and tomato paste we add to beef and lamb stocks) help to draw out essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Talk about a nutrient-fest!
The other main health benefit—and admittedly, one of the main reasons the stock-piling trend has become so popular recently—is the natural gelatin that comes from stock and aids in digestion.
It is fairly common knowledge that raw foods are digested more easily than cooked food, but the reasoning behind this stems from food’s attraction to or repulsion of liquid. A fresh, raw salad will make its way through your system much more efficiently than a plate of spaghetti and meatballs would, because raw foods are hydrophilic, meaning they attract liquid, which assists in digestion. Cooked foods, like that hot plate of saucy and meaty pasta, are hydrophobic, which means they repel liquids and are more difficult to digest; they sit in your stomach for longer periods of time.
However, gelatin that comes from bone broth is a protein supplement with the unusual characteristic of being hydrophilic (water-attracting)—even after being heated for an extensive period of time. This means that the naturally produced gelatin in stocks helps you digest food more quickly. Plus, since gelatin is only a protein sparer, it allows the body to more completely utilize the other “normal” proteins that you ingest, like chicken or pork.
In a nutshell, gelatin-rich broths can be an excellent aid to the health of those who cannot afford or simply do not incorporate much meat in their general diet.
Final interesting fact about stocks: recent studies have proved that the digestive system is often times the root of humans’ general illnesses, but the hydrophilic (again, liquid-attracting) characteristic of gelatinous stock lends it to being an excellent cleanser for your intestines, helping prevent digestive problems and diseases. Just sayin’.
So, want to know if the stock you’re buying is the good, nutritional, healthy stuff? Here are some general rules to follow:
- Unless Porter Road Butcher made it, or you made it, or maybe your Grandma Jane made it, most likely it isn’t good.
- Stick it in the fridge. If it gelatinizes and turns into what looks like a Jell-O, it’s good.
- Read the ingredients label for the stock that you’ve bought from the grocery. If it includes more ingredients than the basics (that’s bones, water, vegetables, wine, tomato paste, herbs, and seasonings), you likely don’t want it.
We make chicken, pork, lamb, and beef stocks at both shops as often as we can and we incorporate plenty of love into the mix too—you won’t find that listed in any of the ingredients of your favorite store-bought bone broths.
While our fresh PRB stocks should be used up within about a week, you could also throw it into the freezer to extend the shelf life and help preserve all of the beneficial nutrients.
But WAIT! There’s MORE! We also now carry pantry-ready, shelf-stable All-Natural PRB Beef Stock in our west side marketplace.
There’s no excuse to shirk the stock!
Even though the temperatures have warmed and it may not seem like very stock-suitable season, the nutritional benefits that we gain from consuming them makes stocks too valuable to limit to just half the year. Try substituting stock for water while steaming vegetables; employ it as a creaming agent in making risotto; use up your plethora of summer squashes with some stock-braised ratatouille; or really go balls to the walls and just drink it as is.
We’ve got it ready for you.