Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to Make Ham Stock and Recipe Ideas Using Ham Stock

Ham StockI'm not always the most frugal cook on earth, but one frugal thing I love to do is save scraps of meat and vegetables and use them to make homemade stock. Making stock from scraps that might have been thrown away feels like getting free food, plus the homemade stock is so much more flavorful than canned stock, and your house smells great while the stock is cooking. If you're already making homemade chicken stock, turkey stock, or beef stock, you may not need this tutorial on making ham stock, but when I've mentioned ham stock to people, I've been surprised how many people have told me they've never thought of it.

If you're fond of making soup with ham bones or even pieces of ham rind, you may be wondering, why not just add those things to the soup instead of going to the bother of making stock. Of course you can do that and still get good results, but cooking the ham stock for hours concentrates the flavor and gets every bit of goodness out of the ham. I don't buy ham as much as I do some other types of meat, but whenever I use ham stock in a recipe, I'm always happy with the rich ham flavor it produces.

Making stock starts with saving scraps. I have containers in my freezer where I save ham, chicken, turkey, or beef scraps and bones until I have enough to make stock. I also save things like carrot and celery ends or pieces of onion to use in the stock.

When you have enough scraps saved to make stock, use the biggest soup pot you have, fill it with the ham scraps and bones, plus some fresh or frozen pieces of celery, onions, and carrots. (I often do this on a day I'm trimming celery and use the root ends in the stock. It's also a good way to use carrots that are slightly past their prime.)

Let the stock simmer at very low heat for 6-8 hours, adding a cup or two of water every once in a while. You can also cook this overnight in a large crockpot, strain out the vegetables and ham scraps and reduce it on the stove the next day.

After the stock has simmered for a long time, I take it off the heat and use this mesh skimmer to remove most of the ham scraps and vegetables. Then I taste the stock, and if I want the flavor to be stronger, I cook it at higher heat for another 30 minutes or so to evaporate some of the water and concentrate the flavor.

When the stock has just as much ham flavor as I want, I use this yogurt strainer to strain out little bits of vegetables and ham, and this fat separator to remove any fat that gets through the yogurt strainer.

The fat separator is probably not really necessary, because the yogurt strainer really does strain out a lot of the fat. If you don't have this type of ultra-fine mesh strainer, use the finest strainer you have. (When you chill the stock, the fat will rise to the top and you can spoon it off, so don't worry if you don't have a strainer.)

I label my stock containers with strips of adhesive tape that I write on with a Sharpie marker so I can be sure to use the oldest containers first when I'm making soup. I love having containers of stock like this in the freezer!

How to Make Ham Stock:

1. Save scraps of ham or ham bones in the freezer until you have enough to make stock. (I usually try to have about 6 cups of scraps for a very large soup pot, but you don't have to have quite that much. You can also freeze scraps of celery, onion, and carrots if you have leftovers.

2. Use the largest soup pot you have for making stock. Put the ham scraps into the pot along with pieces of onion, celery, and carrots, and fill the pot with water. (I use vegetable scraps equivalent to about 2 onions, 3-4 carrots, and 3-4 large celery stalks.) You can add some coarse ground pepper or a few peppercorns, but DO NOT ADD SALT!

3. Turn the pot on to the lowest possible simmer and let the stock cook for 6-8 hours, adding a cup or two of water about once an hour. (If you want to cook this when you won't be home, it can be done in a large slow cooker, but you will need to reduce the stock on the stove after it simmers all day in the slow cooker.)

4. After 6-8 hours, remove the ham pieces and vegetables with a mesh skimmer, strainer, or slotted spoon and discard. Taste the stock (carefully, since it's hot!) If the flavor is not as strong as you'd like, turn the heat to medium and boil gently for 30 minutes or more until some of the water is boiled away. (I nearly always need to do this.)

5. When the stock has concentrated enough to have a rich ham flavor, strain again, using the finest strainer you have. I use a fine mesh yogurt strainer and strain the stock into a fat separator (which lets the stock pour from the bottom, leaving the fat to be discarded.) You can also strain through cheesecloth if you don't have a strainer. If you don't have a way to remove the fat, you can let the stock cool in the refrigerator and the fat will harden on top and can be scooped off.

6. I like to freeze the stock in 2 cup or 4 cup containers so I know exactly how much I have when I'm thawing it for a recipe, but you can use any plastic container with a tight fitting lid. I use adhesive tape and a sharpie market to label stock with the type and date. Stock can be stored frozen for 6-12 months, although I never manage to keep it in the freezer for that long!

Other Bloggers Make Ham Stock:
Ham Stock from 80 Breakfasts
Ham Hock and Stock from 101 Things Every Cook Should Cook

Recipe Ideas Using Ham Stock:
Ham and Cabbage Soup with Red Bell Pepper from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Ham and Sherry Vinegar from Kalyn's Kitchen
Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote, and Red Bell Pepper (or Carrots) from Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from 80 Breakfasts
Ham Hock, Barlotti Bean, and Kale Soup from David Hall
Ham and Split Pea Soup from Brown Eyed Baker

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More to Chew On:


  1. I always save my ham bone for stock, but I never thought about saving the scraps!

  2. I am at such an odd place in my life right now, I may be moving to the Virgin Islands in a couple weeks. If so, everything is so expensive there, posts like this will come in very handy.

  3. I love the idea of saving scraps of veggies for the stock! I never thought of that. I always save bits of bread, ends of the loaf, etc. to use for bread crumbs and to make croutons or stuffing. I should have thought of it. Thanks for the great idea. I have a ham bone I'm going to try it on!
    Austin, Texas

  4. I've made chicken, turkey, and beef stock, but never ham. I'll start saving the scraps next time we cook a ham! I don't have leftover veggies; we have pet rabbits.

  5. Pam, glad I can give you a new idea!

    Year on the Grill, I have to say that moving to the Virgin Islands sounds pretty exciting. Keep us posted on that!

    Jenna, as I said I'm not always that frugal, but I do hate to waste things that are useful!

    Daisy, glad I could share the idea.

  6. I was just chatting with another blogger about how I should save my scraps to make stock. I love your idea of using containers in the freezer to collect your meat/bone bits. Could you clarify how you hold onto the veggie scraps? Do you freeze those also?

  7. adding a ham bone to a batch of chicken makes an excellent, tasty addition! Makes great Chicken and egg domburi (Chicken and Egg cooked in stock, soy sauce and rice wine)...

  8. Paula, I just save the veggie scraps in a Ziploc bag, which works because I make stock fairly often. You can only save them a month or two like that, so if you need to freeze longer, I'd use a container.

  9. Oh my, as soon as I saw your post tile, I thought: 'Why didn't I ever think of this". I mean, never thought of making ham stock. Thanks for sharing a great use for all those scraps. Make room in the freezer.

  10. your containers looks nice. r they ziploc

  11. Jennifer, glad I can give you a new idea!

    Vivari, I wrote about the Ziploc Twist-n-Loc Containers, which are great. Now my store also has a no-name brand of these, which are also good. I love the way the lid twists on to keep things airtight.

  12. Mmmm...mmm...mmm, ham stock, who would have thought?!

    I'm thinking of throwing in the parmesan rinds that I save for wedding soups :-)

  13. Flying Roo, I think parmesan rinds would be lovely in this.

  14. Great idea! I'm a big fan of making my own chicken stock, but ham stock never occurred to me. I have a ham bone left over in the freezer from Christmas, so I'll have to give this a try!

    One tip I picked up from Michael Ruhlman is to simmer stock in a low oven, set to 180*F to 200*F, instead of on the stovetop.

    Mike V @ DadCooksDinner

  15. I really like the sound of a ham stock. It would just be packed with flavour!

  16. Hi Kalyn, sorry i dont have an account on here. Saw your recipe and I like the bit about keeping the scraps only thing i would say is that you have to boil down the stock to get the flavour but you top up the water during cooking. If you didnt top up with water you might not have to boil it down

  17. There's nothing better than Lentil Soup/Stew made with homemade ham stock. Just throw in the veggie triumvirate of diced carrots, onions and celery and some herbs and a bay leaf or two and you're golden.

    Oh, the aroma that you receive when making ham stock should be made into a woman's perfume product. She'd have to beat 'em off with that ham bone. :)

  18. David, I agree! Ham stock is a magical ingredient.

  19. Peanut Soup! It's great. Ham stock with bits of onion, celery and carrot, all cooked very soft, then add peanut butter and a bit of cream, season with pepper (ham will make salty broth) and serve in small cups (it's very rich) garnished with crushed peanuts. Yum!

  20. I think the peanut soup sounds absolutely fantastic!

  21. Oh that sounds so delicious. Too bad I had already thrown out the veggie scraps. But I will know for next time. I've never made stock before and just started making soup. So this will be great to have around when I decide to make that special soup! Yum!

  22. Just what I was looking for, thank you!

  23. Why would you remove the fat?

  24. I don't like to eat a lot of saturated fat. I know people have different opinions about that, so if you don't mind the fat, just don't strain the stock.

  25. G'morning Kalyn: I have the remains of a shank ham. Reading your site has given me ideas for making stock in the future. I want to remove any remaining slices of ham from and use the bone to flavor some lima beans. Would I add the shank AFTER the beans are almost done (so that the ham is still flavorable?)
    Thank you

  26. Yes, I would cook the beans part way before adding the ham bone.

  27. Denise, don't want to publish e-mail addresses in the comments. Not sure why I need it?

  28. Kalyn - have you ever tried making it in a slow cooker? Oh my gosh, it is so easy. You just throw it all in there and let it cook overnight and into the next day, then strain. So easy peasy and there doesn't seem to be as much fat.

  29. Madeline, I haven't tried that. but it does sound easy!

  30. Easter is this weekend and I've bought a small ham on the bone for leftovers and soup (I'm not hosting Easter this year, but I still want some leftovers and the bone). The idea of making stock out of the scraps and bone never crossed my mind. I think that's a fantastic idea, since I make home-made stock all the time and I may get more use out of it, than batch of soup.

  31. Dave, glad you like the idea, hope you enjoy!


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