Stock is a flavorful base for all types of food dishes. It makes a great foundation. What are the types of stocks and their uses? Are they healthy?
What are Stocks?
Stocks are flavorful bases for all types of food dishes. They are the vital building blocks for innumerable dishes in the various cuisines of the world. These are the foundation for stews, sauces, and braises.
Stock is a liquid that is full of rich flavors. In its making, one needs to simmer meaty bones over a long period of time. One can use fish bones, chicken bones, turkey bones, veal bones or beef bones. Michael Handal, chef and instructor of culinary arts at Institute of Culinary Education, New York, the USA says:
“In classical cuisine, stocks are referred to as fonds de cuisine or ‘foundations,’ because they support everything else that is prepared with them, such as sauces, soups, braises and stews,”
But vegetables stock and dashi do not have bones in them during the concoction process. And besides bones, stock also has aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots and celery, herbs like thyme and parsley, spices like whole black peppercorns and bay leaves. Leeks and parsnips also may be part of it.
These liquids have no added salt in them. Michael reasons:
“The salt, in most stock applications, would be too intensified in the final product,”
This is because prolonged simmering can cause reduction in volume and concentration of the stock solution.
Types of stock
These are of three types: brown, white and fumet. In brown stock, bones and aromatic vegetables are first roasted. Later, tomato paste is added that the whole mix is allowed to caramalize. Subsequently, water is added and the mixture allowed to simmer for 12 to 24 hours. Due to gelatin from the bones, the brown stock is gelatinous in the cold stage. Michael explains:
“Brown stocks are used as a cooking and finishing base in braises and stews, but reach their ultimate calling when used to produce the myriad of brown-based sauces in the French repertoire, starting with sauces such as Espagnole, demi-glace and jus de veau lié,”
In white stock, add all ingredients to the water and the mixture simmers for 4 to 6 hours. No roasting happens here. Therefore, these are lighter with less gelatin in them. Their use is in dishes that do not require a lot of color or flavor.
“A classic veal blanquette would utilize a white veal stock and a light velouté base to keep the white color and appearance associated with that dish.”
In fumets, there is gentle cooking to extract flavor but no browning. It is for fish and vegetable stock. Simmering duration is just 1 or 2 hours.
Dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix who is also an author states that the health factor of stock is relative. Elaborating on this topic, he says:
“If you have a cold or flu, any kind of warm liquid, like stock or broth, might make you feel comforted and feel better. If you have high blood pressure or cardiac issues and you eat stock or broth daily, it might not be as healthy for you since it’s most likely higher in sodium content than other foods you might choose.”
“While some might have around 100 milligrams of sodium per cup, others contain more than 400 milligrams and beyond for the same amount … and that’s just for 1 cup. I’ve seen some bouillon cubes weighing in at almost 1,000 milligrams of sodium.”