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Monday, January 9, 2017

Making really great ham stock

I know it's a bit late to be giving you my ham stock method, for use with your ham bone from New Year's or Christmas. Unless you tossed what was left of your ham bone into the freezer, to deal with later. In any case, you can mentally file this away, for use after Easter, if you wish.

But I did want to share how I make ham stock, as I've now run into several people who have never roasted the ham bone, before the simmering part of making stock. Roasting the bone really boosts the smokey flavor of the stock.

After trimming away all of the good slices of ham to freeze, and cutting off any thick bands of fat to use for rendering, (as I showed how to do, in this post on how to render ham fat for use in cooking later) I roast the meaty ham bone in a 350 F degree oven, in a shallow baking pan, for about 20 minutes, or just until some of the edge pieces are browning.

I remove the ham bone from the oven and put it into my crockpot, still sizzling hot. In a kettle or saucepan, I bring about a quart of water to a boil. I pour this hot water over the ham bone in the crockpot, and top off with additional water, to cover the bone completely. (Boiling the water before adding to the crockpot gets the temp of the stock up to a simmer faster.)

Then, I just put the lid on, and set the crockpot to cook on LOW for 10-12 hours. I do all of this in the evening, so that my stock cooks while I sleep. It is then ready for me in the morning. Easy peasy, right?

The cooked stock is ladled into large containers and refrigerated for a couple of hours, until the fat has risen to the top and partially solidified. This fat is scooped out and reserved for cooking, in a container in the freezer.

Any remaining meat is picked off of the bone, and frozen in 2-cup amounts, covered in a few cups of the good stock. Meaty ham stock makes excellent lentil/bean soup, pumpkin soup, or potato soup.

I also freeze some stock, without meat, in 1 or 2 cup containers, for adding flavor to savory sauces or gravies, where a recipe might ordinarily call for water.

I made some really delicious lentil soup last Friday, with a quart of that ham stock. It was flavorful enough to not need much in the way of seasonings. (I did add some olive liquid and canned vegetable juice plus a pinch of salt, for flavor and to use those items that had been accumulating in the fridge.)

Just thought I'd share.

By the way, you can also freeze the thick bands of fat, to render for cooking fat plus cracklins', on another day. That's what I did, and when I have some time, I'll get to that rendering.


  1. I'd also add that a flavorful, rich bone broth as you have made, allows one to prepare a meal, such as soup, without meat. The stock offers such rich flavor, and the gelatinous stock also is full of protein. All good things!

    1. Hi Carol,
      You're absolutely right. The stock lends so much flavor that by itself there is enough "meatiness" for a hearty soup, like lentil or bean soup.

      Have a great day, Carol! And congrats on finishing your certification work! Keeping my fingers crossed for you that a position will be offered, soon.

    2. Thanks, Lili. Applications (7) sent in via computer. Now I wait . . . but also keep looking for other postings.

  2. Thank you for sharing your method of making ham broth. Great idea to roast the bone before broth making. Also rather than using the entire pot for one batch of soup, dividing it up in portions, and freezing, makes many more meals.

    I tried using olive liquid in our pizza sauce and it came out too strong, used at least a cupful. I made a mental note not to add the liquid from olives again, but you have mentioned adding it to lentil soup. Maybe it is just that I shouldn't add so much (from a bulk size poly bag of sliced olives).

    Have a pleasant start of the week!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      Oh, yes, I only use about 1/4 cup of olive liquid for a large batch of pizza sauce. And when I make soup, I use about 1/2 cup to a large pot of soup. You might want to try using the liquid in smaller amounts and see if the flavor is more agreeable to you. But if not, it's not a huge deal. I sometimes wind up throwing out liquid from some canned foods, as I can't use them, and am out of space in the freezer to store more liquids.

      I hope your week is off to a good start, too, YHF!

  3. Now I want to make some split pea soup. Thank you for sharing your method. Have a great Monday. Keep warm today.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Yum, split pea soup sounds warm and hearty, right now! We're trying to stay warm. Actually, the temps finally came back up to a normal January, and the snow from a week ago melted over night. I hope the weather has turned sunny, again, there.

      Have a great day, Patti!

  4. This is perfect! I did freeze my ham bone to deal with later, so I will definitely try roasting it.

    It's soup and stew weather at my house. It's been frigid the past few days. We had chili last week, and beef stew yesterday. I'm thinking potato soup sounds wonderful for this week, and it would be even better with ham stock.

    Have a wonderful day!

    P.S. Kris, speaking of potato soup, you mentioned a crock pot cheesy potato soup last week. That sounds yummy, and I am always looking for new crock pot recipes. Would you mind sharing the recipe?

    1. Hi Angie,
      Oh good (on having frozen your ham bone)! I'm glad this will be helpful for you. It's soup weather here, too. Just the aroma of a soup in the pot warms a body up.

      Have a great day, Angie!

  5. I'll have to try this next time I use a ham bone in soup. What a good idea! I did save every last bit of the juice from the pulled pork I made on Saturday. I wouldn't have thought to do that before I "met" you, Lili. I'll use the juice to make black bean soup instead of my normal chicken broth.

    We ended up having a pork heavy weekend, but no one complained. Our local store had pork roasts on sale for 97 cents/lb on Friday. I didn't want to mess with freezing & thawing them later on, so I just loaded the Nesco roaster on Saturday morning.

    We did have the pork loin last night for our daugter's 18th birthday. The green curry sauce turned out great. I ended up not reducing it as much as the recipe said because our niece & her baby decided to brave the snow & join us for dinner last minute. There was just enough sauce for everyone. It was really good.

    Also, this recipe (from this month's Bon Appetit mag) called for just cooking the loin to 130 degrees, then letting it rest for 10 min before slicing. I was a little skeptical about this temp, but figured if it was published it would be safe. Sure enough--the loin was waaaay more tender than the first time I made it. Now I know (if I can remember it! :)

    Have a good day, Lili. It's a good day for curling up with a book here, though I doubt I'll have much time for it.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      It sounds like your birthday celebration was a wonderful event! Good work on making the dinner stretch for your niece, too. You made a great last-minute calculation on how far the sauce would go. And thanks for the heads up on the temp of the pork loin. I've been having trouble with getting the temperature right. I know that guidelines have changed since my mom's cookbooks were published. This should help me a lot!

      I did something similar to your cooking up the pork loin right away, instead of freezing then having to thaw it later. After baking some chicken legs for the meat for last night's dinner, instead of putting the meaty bones into a container for the fridge or freezer, to deal with later, I just put them and the defatted pan juices into the crockpot to make stock, overnight. That saved me a step, and some extra containers to clean up. Sometimes, it's just best all around to tackle a job (or cook some meat) in the moment.

      It has warmed up, here. The snow and ice melted, and it's a rainy/dreary day. Good day to catch up on work!

      Have a great day, Melissa, and stay warm!

  6. I've never considered roasting the bone! I'll have to try that next time.

    1. Hi Laura,
      I hope you enjoy this. I think it makes the yummiest of soup stocks.
      Have a great day, Laura!


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