In popular terms, stock usually refers to common stock of companies. A piece of common stock is a right to a share in the company's future earnings, and a right to one vote in the election of the Board of Directors for the company.

The major point of stock is that it is limited liability. If you purchase stock and act as a passive investor, you do not have further responsibility beyond your initial investment. This differs from trading in margin accounts, futures, or similar enterprises where the money you pay is just a good-faith deposit.

This is about the basic cooking ingredient.

In French, the stockpot and its contents are called the fonds de cuisine. The foundations of the kitchen.

All serious cooks will tell you that a good stock is the basis of soups, stews, casseroles, pies and almost every other dish that can be cooked. There is no doubt at all that a chicken soup made using a real chicken stock is entirely different and far better than a chicken soup made from a stock cube.

The same applies to a beef consommé, fish pie or risotto. The flavour of the stock defines the flavour of the dish.

Other good noders have spent their time and effort producing recipes for dozens of types of stock, based on meat, fish and vegetables. I do not propose to add to that excellent body of work.

Instead, I want to explore what stock does, what the flavours are, and some of the short cuts and the strengths and weaknesses of those shortcuts.

I should at this point clarify: stock is, in general, made from bones. Vegetable stock can't use bones, but meat and fish stocks do. The classic demi-glace is traditionally made by boiling the bones of baby cows with wine, herbs and other ingredients and then reducing until the flavour is about as concentrated as it can get. Bones contain gelatin and a good stock should solidify on cooling. The gelatin turns the stock into a gel.

While a liquid based on boiled meat can add great flavour to a dish, the material produced by boiling meat and fat together with other flavourings is strictly called a broth, rather than a stock. A broth tends to be less concentrated and less flavoursome than a stock.

sauth says: To me, the broth vs. stock discussion is more a matter of concentration, not meat vs. bones. Though certainly if you want to end up with a stock, you will NOT boil it to avoid introducing too many impurities, NOT salt it except in the final dish, and cool it overnight so you can defat it (the fat will form a layer on the top) before reducing further to stock concentration. Most of what I know comes from eGullet:

/me adds, That link points to a great writeup on the use and preparation of stock. Makes my piece almost superfluous. Sigh. Having sighed, I do think that strictly speaking a stock is supposed to gel, due to the gelatin extracted from bones, cartilage and connective tissue, whereas a broth tends to remain liquid. But if a different definition works for you, I'm not going to get into a flame war over it.

All cultures and cuisines have developed their own type of stock made from bones. It is an obvious way of using scarce resources effectively. Instead of throwing away the bones, or feeding them to semi-domesticated animals, the cook boils them up. The resulting liquid can be used to make a thin meal taste better and be more nutritious than it might otherwise be.

In European and North American cultures, where meat is no longer a luxury, many of us throw away the bones and we do not worry about the loss of flavour that ensues. However, in much of Asia and in less wealthy parts of the world, a stock made from meat forms the basis of many dishes based on rice and noodles.

Let us move on a few centuries to the mid-19th century. We find a German chemist by the name of Baron Justus von Liebig working in Paris under the tutelage of Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac. Every student of chemistry has used a Liebig condenser. Although it appears Liebig did not invent this device, it was named for him.

Another of Liebig's many claims to fame — and the one that is relevant here — was to found the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, which later produced the Oxo cube. The company's first factory opened in Uruguay in 1866. At the time, South American cattle were raised mainly for their leather, and not for their meat.

Liebig's idea was to condense the carcasses down to produce a kind of concentrated stock, and ship this back to Europe as a way to create all the flavour of stock, without the hassle.

His belief — mistaken as it turns out — was that by condensing the carcasses down, he could retain all the nutritional value in a concentrated form. Instead, he discovered what the Japanese call umami, which translates as 'delicious savoury flavour.'

Liebig's main product was something akin to the modern-day Bovril. In 1899, the product was re-named as Oxo. Eventually, the company used small amounts of the beef extract and mixed them together with other ingredient to make the stock cube known today as the Oxo cube.

Options in today's kitchen

Moving to the modern day, the lazy and/or ambitious cook now has a variety of options for obtaining a stock.

Professional chefs, serious amateurs and those with a lot of time on their hands will make proper stock. It is the best, but can be time-consuming. Even among professional kitchens, however, there is a rumour that chefs are moving to buying their stocks from specialist suppliers. (source)

Our own resident restauranteur, shaogo says:I've been known to enhance my own quick-cooked (less than 4 hours) beef and chicken stocks with Knorr-Swiss bouillon cubes, which are quite good; but more often than not I make mire-poix and mix that with bones; chicken just gets boiled, beef/veal gets roasted to caramelize in the oven, then boiled (when I say "boil" I mean simmered for at least 5 hours).

Second is the ubiquitous bouillon cube, or 'stock cube' as it is known in the UK. A typical stock cube is made mostly from salt. In 100g of stock cube, there is typically 54g of salt, 20g of sugar, 13g of lactose monohydrate, 8g of fat, 3g of monosodium glutamate and 2g of flavouring. (source)

Before researching this, I had no idea what went into a stock cube, but a quick search revealed the above recipe. I'm not sure I'll be using them again. Ever.

Two alternatives have come onto the market more recently. The first is fresh stock, bought in containers of about 1 litre from upscale supermarkets. These are chilled foods, so should be used within a few days of buying them, but they can be frozen. They are often packaged in plastic sachets or tubs under brands such as Knorr, Kallo or as a supermarket own brand. My experience of these products has been generally positive. More positive with the own-brands and small brands than the international brands such as Knorr, Oxo and similar. As with stock cubes, they can be high in salt, so it's probably best not to add any salt until after the bought stock has been added, and then adjust for flavour.

The second product is a kind of liquid stock cube. This comes in small bottles and has a highly concentrated flavour. Again, they tend to be high in salt, though the flavour varies significantly from brand to brand. In many cases it is not much better than stock cubes.

A third option is powdered stock. Note the Marigold product mentioned below. This is recommended by both DEB and Delia Smith. Read more reviews of the Marigold product here. Unsurprisingly, however, there is great variation in the quality and flavour of other powdered stock additives. Many of them are similar to stock cubes in terms of flavour and ingredients.

As with most things in the kitchen, find an approach that works for you and stick to it.

The Debutante says: I'm a firm believer in Marigold bouillon, and I know quite a few professional and semi-professional chefs who are too. But nothing beats homemade.

Making and using fresh stock

In most domestic kitchens it is impractical to make stock every day. Most people who make their own stock do it each time the bones or carcass become available, and then freeze for later use.

Let me first quote this piece of wisdom from Sneff:

With all stocks, temperature is of the utmost importance, second only to the quality of the raw materials. You will be searching for a temperature that extracts the maximum flavour from the bones and vegetables, without dissolving the gelatin back into the stock at high temperature. If this happens, your stock will be cloudy and somewhat unpalatable. This optimum temperature is always found when the surface of the stock is at a good shuddering simmer, never a rolling boil and never less than a simmer either. Keep this in mind and choose your ingredients carefully and you cannot help but succeed.

Chicken stock is the one most often made at home. This works because the carcass is relatively small and will fit easily into a pan. Preparation takes only a few minutes although the stock needs to boil for two to three some hours. For more meaty stocks, longer boiling is required.

jessicaj says: The longer you simmer stock the richer and more flavorful it becomes. Two to three hours of cook time isn't nearly enough in my humble opinion.

This is an interesting one. Sneff says (and I trust Sneff) that an hour is long enough for a chicken, provided you get the temperature right. But I'm not going to get into recipe discussions. Do what works for you; ignore contradictory advice.

In any case, a common approach is to boil the stock down as far as it will easily go, and then pour the stock into a freezer tray and freeze. Once frozen, the cubes can be put in a plastic bag in the freezer (to release the ice tray for other uses) and used at will. Frozen stock will last a couple of months in the freezer.

Sources, further information

Stock (stok), n. [AS. stocc a stock, trunk, stick; akin to D. stok, G. stock, OHG. stoc, Icel. stokkr, Sw. stock, Dan. stok, and AS. stycce a piece; cf. Skr. tuj to urge, thrust. Cf. Stokker, Stucco, and Tuck a rapier.]


The stem, or main body, of a tree or plant; the fixed, strong, firm part; the trunk.

Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
Job xiv. 8,9.


The stem or branch in which a graft is inserted.

The scion overruleth the stock quite.


A block of wood; something fixed and solid; a pillar; a firm support; a post.

All our fathers worshiped stocks and stones.

Item, for a stock of brass for the holy water, seven shillings; which, by the canon, must be of marble or metal, and in no case of brick.


Hence, a person who is as dull and lifeless as a stock or post; one who has little sense.

Let's be no stoics, nor no stocks.


The principal supporting part; the part in which others are inserted, or to which they are attached. Specifically: --


The wood to which the barrel, lock, etc., of a musket or like firearm are secured; also, a long, rectangular piece of wood, which is an important part of several forms of gun carriage.


The handle or contrivance by which bits are held in boring; a bitstock; a brace.

(c) (Joinery)

The block of wood or metal frame which constitutes the body of a plane, and in which the plane iron is fitted; a plane stock.

(d) (Naut.)

The wooden or iron crosspiece to which the shank of an anchor is attached. See Illust. of Anchor.


The support of the block in which an anvil is fixed, or of the anvil itself.


A handle or wrench forming a holder for the dies for cutting screws; a diestock.


The part of a tally formerly struck in the exchequer, which was delivered to the person who had lent the king money on account, as the evidence of indebtedness. See Counterfoil. [Eng.]


The original progenitor; also, the race or line of a family; the progenitor of a family and his direct descendants; lineage; family.

And stand betwixt them made, when, severally,
All told their stock.

Thy mother was no goddess, nor thy stock
From Dardanus.


Money or capital which an individual or a firm employs in business; fund; in the United States, the capital of a bank or other company, in the form of transferable shares, each of a certain amount; money funded in government securities, called also the public funds; in the plural, property consisting of shares in joint-stock companies, or in the obligations of a government for its funded debt; -- so in the United States, but in England the latter only are called stocks, and the former shares.

8. (Bookkeeping)

Same as Stock account, below.


Supply provided; store; accumulation; especially, a merchant's or manufacturer's store of goods; as, to lay in a stock of provisions.

Add to that stock which justly we bestow.

10. (Agric.)

Domestic animals or beasts collectively, used or raised on a farm; as, a stock of cattle or of sheep, etc.; -- called also live stock.

11. (Card Playing)

That portion of a pack of cards not distributed to the players at the beginning of certain games, as gleek, etc., but which might be drawn from afterward as occasion required; a bank.

I must buy the stock; send me good cardings.
Beau. & Fl.


A thrust with a rapier; a stoccado. [Obs.]

13. [Cf. Stocking.]

A covering for the leg, or leg and foot; as, upper stocks (breeches); nether stocks (stockings). [Obs.]

With a linen stock on one leg.


A kind of stiff, wide band or cravat for the neck; as, a silk stock.

15. pl.

A frame of timber, with holes in which the feet, or the feet and hands, of criminals were formerly confined by way of punishment.

He shall rest in my stocks.
Piers Plowman.

16. pl. (Shipbuilding)

The frame or timbers on which a ship rests while building.

17. pl.

Red and gray bricks, used for the exterior of walls and the front of buildings. [Eng.]

18. (Bot.)

Any cruciferous plant of the genus Matthiola; as, common stock (Matthiola incana) (see Gilly-flower); ten-weeks stock (M. annua).

19. (Geol.)

An irregular metalliferous mass filling a large cavity in a rock formation, as a stock of lead ore deposited in limestone.


A race or variety in a species.

21. (Biol.)

In tectology, an aggregate or colony of persons (see Person), as trees, chains of salpæ, etc.


The beater of a fulling mill. Knight.

23. (Cookery)

A liquid or jelly containing the juices and soluble parts of meat, and certain vegetables, etc., extracted by cooking; -- used in making soup, gravy, etc.

Bit stock. See Bitstock. --
Dead stock (Agric.), the implements of husbandry, and produce stored up for use; -- in distinction from live stock, or the domestic animals on the farm. See def. 10, above. --
Head stock. See Headstock. --
Paper stock, rags and other material of which paper is made. --
Stock account (Bookkeeping), an account on a merchant's ledger, one side of which shows the original capital, or stock, and the additions thereto by accumulation or contribution, the other side showing the amounts withdrawn. --
Stock car, a railway car for carrying cattle. --
Stock company (Com.), an incorporated company the capital of which is represented by marketable shares having a certain equal par value. --
Stock duck (Zoöl.), the mallard. --
Stock exchange.
(a) The building or place where stocks are bought and sold; stock market; hence, transactions of all kinds in stocks.
(b) An association or body of stockbrokers who meet and transact business by certain recognized forms, regulations, and usages. Wharton. Brande & C. --
Stock farmer, a farmer who makes it his business to rear live stock. --
Stock gillyflower (Bot.), the common stock. See Stock, n., 18. --
Stock gold, gold laid up so as to form a stock, or hoard. --
Stock in trade, the goods kept for sale by a shopkeeper; the fittings and appliances of a workman. Simmonds. --
Stock list, a list of stocks, or shares, dealt in, of transactions, and of prices. --
Stock lock, a lock inclosed in a wooden case and attached to the face of a door. --
Stock market.
(a) A place where stocks are bought and sold; the stock exchange.
(b) A market for live stock. --
Stock pigeon. (Zoöl.) Same as Stockdove. --
Stock purse.
(a) A common purse, as distinguished from a private purse.
(b) (Mil.) Moneys saved out of the expenses of a company or regiment, and applied to objects of common interest. [Eng.] --
Stock shave, a tool used by blockmakers. --
Stock station, a place or district for rearing stock. [Australia] W. Howitt. --
Stock tackle (Naut.), a tackle used when the anchor is hoisted and secured, to keep its stock clear of the ship's sides. Totten. --
Stock taking, an examination and inventory made of goods or stock in a shop or warehouse; -- usually made periodically. --
Tail stock. See Tailstock. --
To have something on the stock, to be at work at something. --
To take stock, to take account of stock; to make an inventory of stock or goods on hand. Dickens. --
To take stock in.
(a) To subscribe for, or purchase, shares in a stock company.
(b) To put faith in; to accept as trustworthy; as, to take stock in a person's fidelity. [Slang] --
To take stock of, to take account of the stock of; to take an inventory of; hence, to ascertain the facts in regard to (something). [Eng.]

At the outset of any inquiry it is proper to take stock of the results obtained by previous explorers of the same field.
Leslie Stephen.

Syn. -- Fund; capital; store; supply; accumulation; hoard; provision.


© Webster 1913

Stock (stok), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Stocked (stokt); p. pr. & vb. n. Stocking.]


To lay up; to put aside for future use; to store, as merchandise, and the like.


To provide with material requisites; to store; to fill; to supply; as, to stock a warehouse, that is, to fill it with goods; to stock a farm, that is, to supply it with cattle and tools; to stock land, that is, to occupy it with a permanent growth, especially of grass.


To suffer to retain milk for twenty-four hours or more previous to sale, as cows.


To put in the stocks. [R.] Shak.

To stock an anchor (Naut.), to fit it with a stock, or to fasten the stock firmly in place. --
To stock cards (Card Playing), to arrange cards in a certain manner for cheating purposes. [Cant] --
To stock down (Agric.), to sow, as plowed land, with grass seed, in order that it may become swarded, and produce grass. --
To stock up, to extirpate; to dig up.


© Webster 1913

Stock, a.

Used or employed for constant service or application, as if constituting a portion of a stock or supply; standard; permanent; standing; as, a stock actor; a stock play; a stock sermon. "A stock charge against Raleigh." C. Kingsley.

Stock company (Theater), a company of actors regularly employed at one theater, or permanently acting together in various plays under one management.


© Webster 1913

Stock, n.


Raw material; that out of which something is manufactured; as, paper stock.

2. (Soap Making)

A plain soap which is made into toilet soap by adding perfumery, coloring matter, etc.


© Webster 1913

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