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The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics: Stocks & Their Uses

Updated on October 12, 2015

Basic Stocks and Their Uses

The type of stock produced can be varied by the type of bones and vegetables used.  Four main types of stock are commonly produced in the kitchen.  They include chicken stock, white beef stock, brown beef stock and fish stock.

Chicken stock (fonds blanc de Volaille)

Chicken stock is made from chicken bones and mirepoix which gives it a delicate chicken flavour and a light colour.  Chicken stock is used in soups and poultry dishes.

White beef stock (fonds blanc)

White beef stock is made from beef bones and mirepoix and is used in soups such as broth and consommés

Brown beef stock (estouffade or fonds brun)

Brown beef stock is made from beef bones and mirepoix which have first been well browned in the oven.  The browning procedure caramelises the natural sugar content in the food giving I a brown colour.  The flavour and aroma of the browned ingredients gives a special quality to the stock.  Brown beef stock is used for sauces, brown stews, braises and some soups.

Fish stock (fonds de poisson)

Fish stock is made from bones and trimmings of lean white fleshed fish.  Bones from oily fish are too strong in flavour and should not be used.  Fish stocks require less cooking time to extract the flavour from the bones than meat stocks.  If over cooked, fish bones give a bitter flavour to the stock and make it unpalatable.

Special purpose stocks 

Lamb bones have too strong a flavour to be used in general stock production, but may be used in specific lamb dishes like scotch broth or a lamb casserole.  Similarly, pork stock, which has a distinctive flavour, is only suitable for pork dishes.

Dessert stocks and stock syrups

These are specialised stocks made with water, sugar and flavourings.  They are used entirely for the production of desserts.


Long, slow simmering of stock is required to draw out the flavour giving substances from the ingredients.  The length of time a stock is simmered depends on the type of stock made.

The following cooking times are recommended for individual stocks, though the times will vary depending on the size of the bones used.

  • Beef stock – 8 hours
  • Chicken stock – 2 hours
  • Fish stock – 20 minutes

Do not overcook bones as calcium will start to leach from them and the stock will become cloudy and taste bitter.


·      Stocks may be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator or cool room within the temperature range of 1C degrees to 4C degrees.

·      Stocks may be stored for up to three months in the freezer

·      It is important to completely cool the stock before placing it in the refrigerator, cool room or freezer.  Otherwise heat is maintained and warms the fridge/freezer which speeds up the deterioration of its contents.

·      To speed the cooling process, the stock may be placed into small containers which can be put into iced water.  The stock is then stirred to evenly reduce the heat.

·      Use a cartouche when storing stocks.  This prevents foreign objects falling into the stock.

·      Label and date all stored stocks.


· Stock is a foundation ingredient for a wide variety of culinary dishes.

· Dishes made from stock are only as good as the quality of the stock used.

· Bones, vegetables and water are the three main ingredients used in stock production.

· Carrots, onions and celery (mirepoix) enhance the flavour of a stock.

· Salt is never used as an ingredient in stocks.

· Slow simmering draws out the maximum flavour from the ingredients.

· Stocks may be refrigerated for up to one week and frozen for up to three months.

· Completely cool a stock before placing it in the refrigerator.


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