white stock

Stock (food)

Stock is a flavoured liquid. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces. Stock is prepared by simmering various ingredients in water, including some or all of the following: Bones : Veal, beef, and chicken bones are most commonly used. The flavour of the stock comes from the cartilage and connective tissue in the bones. Connective tissue has collagen in it, which gets converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. Stock made from bones needs to be simmered for longer than stock made from meat (often referred to as broth). Mirepoix: a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes other vegetables. Often the less desirable parts of the vegetables (such as carrot skins and celery ends) are used since they will not be eaten. Herbs and spices: the herbs and spices used depend on availability and local traditions. In classical cuisine, the use of a bouquet garni (or bundle of herbs) consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme and possibly other herbs, is common. This is often wrapped in a cheesecloth "bag" and tied with string to make it easier to remove it once the stock is cooked.

Broth is very similar to stock, and often the terms are used interchangeably. Usually, broth refers to finished product while stock is used as an ingredient (thus stock may become broth). Other times, broth is used to refer to a liquid made in the same way as stock but meat is substituted for bones. However, with some stock/broth made from vegetables and some made from both bones and meat, this cannot be considered a hard-and-fast rule.

Today, ready-made stock and stock cubes consisting of dried, compressed stock ingredients are readily available. These are commonly known as bouillon cubes (or oxo cubes, after a common brand of stock cube sold in Britain) or cooking base.


  • Fond brun, or brown stock. The brown color is achieved by roasting the bones and mirepoix. This also adds a rich, full flavour. Veal bones are the most common type used in a fond brun.
  • Fond blanc, or white stock, is made by using raw bones and white mirepoix. Chicken bones are the most common for fond blanc.
  • Fish stock is made with fish bones and finely chopped mirepoix. Fish stock should be cooked for 30–45 minutes—cooking any longer spoils the flavour. Concentrated fish stock is called "fish fumet". In Japanese cooking, a fish and kelp stock called dashi is made by briefly (3–5 minutes) cooking skipjack tuna (bonito) flakes called katsuobushi in nearly boiling water.
  • Chicken stock should be cooked for 4–5 hours. Veal stock should be cooked anywhere from 8 hours to overnight.
  • Jus is a rich, lightly reduced stock used as a sauce for roasted meats. Many of these are started by deglazing the roasting pan, then reducing to achieve the rich flavour desired.
  • Ham stock, common in Cajun cooking, is made from ham hocks.
  • Prawn stock is made from boiling prawn shells. It is used in Southeast Asian dishes such as laksa.
  • Vegetable stock is made only of vegetables. It is common today.
  • Master stock is a special Chinese stock used primarily for poaching meats, flavoured with soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic and other aromatics.
  • Glace viande is stock made from bones, usually from veal, that is highly concentrated by reduction.

Preparing stock

A few basic rules are commonly prescribed for preparing stock:

  • The stock ingredients are boiled starting with cold water. This promotes the extraction of protein, which may be sealed in by hot water.
  • Stocks are simmered gently, with bubbles just breaking the surface, and not boiled. If a stock is boiled, it will be cloudy.
  • Salt is usually not added to a stock, as this causes it to become too salty, since most stocks are reduced to make soups and sauces.
  • Meat is added to a stock before vegetables, and the "scum" that rises to the surface is skimmed off before further ingredients are added.


  • Escoffier, A (1941). The Escoffier Cook Book. New York, NY, USA: Crown Publishers.
  • Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896). The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Boston, MA, USA: Little, Brown and Company.
  • Beck, Simone; Louisette Bertholle; Julia Child (1961). Mastering the Art of French Cooking. New York, NY, USA: Alfred A. Knopf.

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