how does one celebrate the
End of Summer?
how does one encapsulate the very essence
of pre-dawn july light
capture the juicy moment
of the first berries picked
in the unfurling, but delicious heat of august?
personally, i don’t know
it’s an impossible
exercise to bottle it all up,
like sand slipping from a loose hand
and so, like the ant
in the fable i set to task
the job of making tomato paste
and the most concentrated soup stock
for the coming cooler months
for meals that call for hearty stews
beyond just the benefits of gelatin
and how incredibly inexpensive it is,
this particular exercise
instead it’s one that
perfectly secures for the
times during darkness
when grace is elusive
and you’re clutching for something comforting
these bouillon cubes could save your life
or at the very least,
nourish your spirit,
coddle your soul
homemade bouillon cubes
as inspired by the musician, who cooks
like most things that i do, i don’t have exact measurements. and so, my notes:
this past summer we participated in a poultry csa. whether we roasted, grilled, stewed, whatever the chicken we kept the bones and skin. what ended up going into the pot was about 2 months worth of bones and whatever wasn’t consumed: neck bones etc. i also freeze carrot ends and celery fronds, they went in, along with a few new scrubbed carrots, with skin on.
veggie scraps are optional. i just didn’t want to waste the scraps, and i needed to clear up the freezer space.
i also threw in a handful of peppercorns, a very generous sprinkle of salt, and 2 bay leaves.
fill up the pot with cold water. bring to a brisk boil, lower temp and forget about the thing for about 10 hours, or until the stock has reduced significantly, at your discretion. it really came down to what time of night it was, how much energy i had to strain it etc.
fish out the bones and vegs. discard. strain liquid through cheesecloth (we used a dw’s old, but very clean cotton tshirt) in fine mesh sieve into a smaller pot. at this point, you can continue to reduce the liquid down some more. i did. in the original recipe post i read the liquid was reduced down to about 1 1/2 cups. that would’ve been nice but i was getting dang tired of the thing.
when it reached, i would say about, 10 cups of stock left in the pot, i brought it to fast boil. i added in about 3oz of agaragar to the pot, stirring to ensure it’s all thoroughly incorporated into the liquid. (it’s important that the liquid is hot in order to activate the agaragar. trust me) in lieu of agaragar, flavorless gelatin can be used, 1:1 ratio. i also want to add, next time around i’d probably add in 4oz instead. while the end result still firmed up just fine, 4oz would’ve made for easier handling.
pour liquid into a big casserole dish, in our case, the biggest one we had. allow to cool to room temp and then fridge it. due to the natural collagen imparted from the chicken bones in the stock, along with the agaragar, the liquid will gel-ify. when it’s thoroughly cold cut into cubes, lay out on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet and freeze. when fully frozen, put into freezer bags. keep in freezer and use as needed.
i’d say about 1 cube for 1/2 – 1 cup of water, it’s at your discretion. it’s your kitchen. i realize that this isn’t much of a recipe, it’s more of a guideline of what i did, the amount of time and energy i had and the results may vary from kitchen to kitchen. but the moral of the story is: homemade stock is good, having it on hand is great, but if you have just a normal sized freezer, the real estate space is limited and reducing it down into cubes into ONE gallon sized freezer bag instead of 5 16oz containers is a win in my book.