Gluten Free Stocks

Many people are intimidated by making their own gluten free stocks, thinking that it’s too complicated or time consuming.  Really it's not!  This is among my favourite things to make.  Having my own homemade stock on hand gives me a tool to make just about any meal more flavourful and appealing.  The most boring meal can be spiced up with a savory sauce or a tasty soup.  Want to impress your friends?  Top of the roast chicken with a mushroom veloute or the pasta with a creamy béchamel that you whipped up while chatting in the kitchen over drinks.

Homemade stock

Quick reference

Store bought stock

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Home-made Gluten Free Stock:

So easy and so satisfying.  The stock pot simmering for hours fills the house with this amazing homey aroma.  And once you get past the initial few steps it takes very little effort.

The basics are vegetable, chicken and beef.  Though you can make veal or fish stocks they are less common. 

So lets get started!

Equipment:

Stock pot

Knife for chopping

Cutting board

6” square of cheese cloth

8” piece of string

Ingredients:

Bones for meat based stocks – 8lbs


Vegetables for flavouring (called mirepoix) – 1 lb (4lbs for vegetable stock)

The standard mirepoix is carrot, celery, onion.  About 8oz of onion and 4 each of the others

For gluten free vegetable stock you can use other types as well, just avoid starchy veggies like potato, they will make the stock cloudy.  Also avoid strong flavoured veggies like cabbage or broccoli.

Standard Mirepoix

For beef stock you also need about 2 tbsp of tomato paste

Herbs and Spices: the standard spice bag is thyme, crushed peppercorn, parsley stems, bay leaf.  You can add garlic and whole cloves if you like.  Place the herbs in the cheese cloth, pull the corners together and tie with the string.

Method:

  1. For gluten free brown stock like beef, you need to brown the bones in the oven. Put a little oil in the bottom of the pan, add the bones, place in 375 oven.  This will take a little more than an hour.   You can make a brown chicken stock too.  For a white stock skip this step.

  2. While this is going on, chop up the mirepoix.  The size of the pieces depends on how long you will be cooking them.  For veggie stock that will only cook for a short time, smaller pieces are better (about ½ inch).  Larger chunks are okay for stocks that will simmer for a few hours.

  3. When the bones in the oven are almost done add the mirepoix and tomato paste.  Stir and put back in the oven until everything is a nice rich mahogany colour.

  4. Put the bones and mirepoix in the stock pot and add 5 – 6 qt (5-6L) of cold water

  5. Add the spice bag and tie the end of the string to the handle of the pot so you can remove it if you need to.

  6. Deglaze the pan you roasted the bones in  by adding a little water, heat on the stove top and stir all the nice brown bits up off the bottom of the pan.  Add the brown liquid to the stock pot.  Skip this step if anything in the pan is burnt.  You don’t want that burnt flavor in your stock.

  7. Bring the water slowly to a gentle simmer; you don’t want a rapid boil

  8. As the stock begins to simmer some foam and sludge will make its way to the top.  Keep skimming this off with the ladle.

  9. Let the stock simmer, skimming occasionally if needed, until done.

Tip: DO NOT at any point stir your gluten free stock. 

The meat releases impurities which stick to the bones, you don’t want this floating around in your stock.

Timing:

Beef stock 8 – 10 hours

Chicken stock 3 – 4 hours

Vegetable stock – 30 – 45 min

Do not add salt.  Stocks are a base for sauces and soups, you will season the end product not the stock

Skim your gluten free stock a few times throughout the simmering process and last thing before straining make sure you’ve got as much of the fat off it as you can get.

When the stock is done strain it through a cheese cloth lined colander

Cool rapidly in an ice bath.  I fill my sink with ice water, pour the stock into a few tall narrow containers like juice jugs and immerse it in the ice water.

When cool you can use it, store it in the fridge for a few days or portion into containers and freeze.  A good way to get any remaining fat off the stock is to cool it for a few hours in the fridge.  The fat will solidify on top, then you can just scrape it off with a spoon.

I have little containers that I freeze in 1 and 2 cup portions.  I’ve also used freezer bags which is quite space efficient.  Just be careful they don’t tip when filling and lay flat in the freezer until solid.

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Quick reference:

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Store bought gluten free stock:

There is absolutely no reason for stock to have gluten in it, yet for some reason, some manufacturers seem to think it’s necessary.  What exactly is up with that anyway?  They have extra gluten lying around and just decide “hmm, we don’t want this to go to waste, let’s toss it in the stock pot”?

Although homemade is nicer and much much less expensive, I often do pick up a ready-made stock if I’ve used up everything in the freezer.  I recommend the organic section,  partly because the stock will be organic (no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, GMO’s} but also because organic producers seem to be more careful about what goes into the product and gluten is less likely to creep in.  As always, read labels.

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