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Are you eager to utilize every bit of your holiday ham? Discover how to make ham stock and turn those leftover ham bones into a rich, flavorful broth. Perfect for soups or as a base for other dishes, this recipe is both easy and versatile, ensuring your ham dinner stretches just a bit further while delivering mouth-watering flavors.

Three jars of ham stock, one with the lid open.

❤️ Why You Will Love This Recipe

Great Way to Reduce Food Waste

If you’ve ever felt guilty about discarding leftover ham bones from your holiday dinners, this recipe is your solution! Creating homemade ham broth not only gives a second life to those bones but also ensures that every part of your ham dinner is used purposefully.

Rich and Smoky Flavor

There’s something incredibly satisfying about simmering bones to extract their delicious flavors. This stock boasts a rich, smoky flavor that’s miles ahead of any store-bought broth. Whether you’re crafting a potato soup, pea soup, or white bean soup, this stock adds an unbeatable depth of flavor.

Versatile Cooking Ingredient

This isn’t just about making soup! A good ham stock can be the base for numerous dishes. Whether you’re using it in a risotto, to cook grains, or as a base for sauces, its great flavor will elevate your dish. It’s a great replacement for chicken stock or beef stock in a pinch!

Economical and Budget-Friendly

Buying stock or broth from the store can be expensive, especially if you’re looking for high-quality options. By making your own, you save money and get a superior product. Plus, it’s a fantastic free food resource if you’re already buying and cooking ham.

Perfect for Various Cooking Methods

Whether you’re a fan of the slow cooker, trusty old stovetop in a large stockpot, or the modern Instant Pot, this recipe has got you covered. With instructions tailored for each method, you can choose the one that fits your style or the kitchen equipment you have on hand.

Healthy and Wholesome

Unlike store-bought stocks filled with sodium and preservatives, making your own ensures you know exactly what’s going into it. With fresh vegetables, herbs, and the natural flavors from the ham, it’s a healthier choice for your family.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Overhead photo of the ingredients for ham stock.

Ham Hock, Shank, or Leftover Ham Bones

The star of the show! Ham bones impart a rich, smoky flavor to the stock. If you’ve enjoyed a glazed ham for your Christmas dinner or any other occasion, those leftover bones are golden for this great recipe too. If you don’t have a leftover ham bone, you can also use ham hocks, shank, or ham scraps. These cuts are meaty and flavorful, making them great for stock.

Substitution: In a pinch, you can use smoked pork bones. They may have a slightly different flavor but will still make a delicious stock.

Celery, Carrots, and Leek

These classic aromatic vegetables provide depth and complexity to the stock. They lend sweetness, earthiness, and a touch of peppery flavor. They don’t need to be finely chopped. Large chunks will do.

Substitution: If you’re out of leeks, you can use extra onions. Green onions can also work as a milder substitute. You can also add in leftover veggies or vegetable scraps.

Onion and Garlic

Onions and garlic are fundamental for any stock or broth. They provide a robust flavor foundation, enhancing the overall taste of the stock.

Substitution: If you’re out of fresh garlic, a teaspoon (or 3!) of garlic powder can be used as a last-minute substitute.

Dried Thyme and Bay Leaves

Herbs like thyme and bay leaves offer a fragrant aroma to the stock. Thyme gives a subtle earthy flavor, while bay leaves add a slightly floral and herbal note.

Substitution: If you don’t have dried thyme on hand, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme is a great substitute. Fresh or dried rosemary or parsley can also be a good alternative. For bay leaves, they’re unique but can be left out if unavailable.

Peppercorns

Black peppercorns introduce a gentle heat and spiciness to the stock, balancing out the savory flavors.

Substitution: If you don’t have whole peppercorns, a pinch of ground black pepper will do the trick, but add it towards the end of the cooking process.

Water

Water is essential to extract all the flavors from the ingredients, resulting in a rich and flavorful stock. The amount of cold water can be adjusted depending on how concentrated you want your stock to be.

Substitution: While water is the primary liquid for this stock, if you have some leftover homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock, you can mix them in for an even richer flavor.

🥣 How to Make Homemade Ham Stock

Stovetop Method: Embrace Tradition

Begin your ham stock batch with a large pot or, even better, a Dutch oven. These pots distribute heat evenly, ensuring all the ingredients simmer at the right pace. Once you’ve added all your ingredients, crank up the stove to medium-high heat.

As the bubbles start dancing on the surface, be sure to skim them off. This ensures your stock stays clear and not cloudy. Then, dial down the heat to a low simmer and let time do its magic. After about three or four hours, you’ll have a pot of liquid gold.

A ladle pouring ham stock into a pot.

Slow Cooker Method: Set it and Forget it

If you’re a fan of the “set it and forget it” philosophy, the slow cooker method is your best friend. Add your ingredients, set the temperature, and let the slow cooker work its wonders.

Depending on your schedule, you can choose to cook on high for 6 hours or go low and slow for 10 hours. The result? A deep, delicious stock ready to be strained and used in your favorite dishes. I sometimes leave it cooking overnight on low for a more intense flavor!

Overhead photo of ham stock in a slow cooker.

Instant Pot: Quick and Efficient

For those short on time or looking for a quicker way, making ham stock in the Instant Pot (or pressure cooker) is a godsend. Toss in your ingredients, secure the lid, and set the timer.

The pressure inside will intensify the extraction of flavors, giving you a rich broth in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods. After an hour under high pressure and a natural release, you’ll be greeted with an aromatic and tasty stock (trust me, the house smells great!).

Ham stock in an instant pot.

Strain Stock

Let the stock cool for a little while in the pot, instant pot, or slow cooker. Then, strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve or slotted spoon to remove the solids, leaving you with pure, flavorful ham stock.

Straining ham stock through a fine mesh sieve.

Now it’s ready to store!

Three jars of ham stock on a table.

🫙 How to Store Stock

Cooling Before Storing

It’s essential to let your ham bone broth cool down completely before storing. You can just set the stock aside, allowing it to reach room temperature, or use an ice bath for a quicker cooling process.

Removing the Fat Layer

After refrigerating, you might notice a layer of fat solidifying on the surface. This is natural and can act as a protective layer, preventing the stock underneath from getting exposed to air and potential contaminants. When you’re ready to use the stock, you can easily remove this fat layer with a slotted spoon, or lift or skim it off. If you’d rather not have this fat in your stock, consider using a fat separator jug before storing, however, if you leave it on the stock will last a little longer.

Fridge or Freezer

Store your stock in the fridge for up to a week. Pour it into airtight plastic containers or glass jars, leaving an inch of space at the top to allow for expansion. The freezer is your best bet if you’re planning for longer storage. Pour the stock into ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. This way, you can take out as much as you need without defrosting the entire batch. Remember to label and date your storage containers, so you always know when you made that delicious batch of ham stock.

Reheating and Thawing

When it’s time to use your frozen stock, move it from the freezer to the fridge for a day to thaw gently. If you’re in a hurry, you can directly reheat the stock in a pot over low heat until it’s melted and warmed up.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

Skimming is Key

To achieve a clear and clean-tasting ham stock, always remember to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface, especially during the initial boiling phase on the stovetop. This is more than just for aesthetics; it also ensures a purer flavor profile.

Don’t Rush

While the Instant Pot method is quick and efficient, if you’re using the stovetop or slow cooker, resist the urge to crank up the heat and speed up the process. A gentle, low simmer is crucial for extracting the full depth of flavors from the ingredients without overcooking or burning them.

Browning for Enhanced Flavor

Want to take your stock to the next level? Consider browning the ham bone in a bit of olive oil or bacon fat over medium heat before adding your water and veggies. This caramelization adds an extra layer of depth to the final flavor of the stock. This step can be especially useful if you’re using a fresh ham hock or shank, as opposed to a pre-roasted ham bone from a holiday dinner.

Adjusting Water Levels

The recipe calls for 2.8 liters of water, but feel free to adjust based on the size of your pot or the concentration you desire. If you want a stronger, more concentrated flavor, use less water. Remember, you can always dilute a strong stock, but you can’t easily concentrate a weak one.

🍽️ What to Serve with Ham Broth

Soup and Ham Stock: A Match Made in Heaven

If you’ve got a ham bone from your Christmas dinner or any holiday ham, using the homemade stock in a soup can be magical. The smoky ham flavor complements the earthiness of ingredients like green peas for pea soup, white beans for white bean soup, potatoes for potato soup, or lentils for lentil soup beautifully. Throw in some diced carrots, celery, and onions, and let it simmer till everything is tender and delicious. Top it off with some crispy bacon bits, and you have a meal that’s both hearty and heartwarming.

Just on its Own: The Joy of Simplicity

Sometimes, the best way to enjoy a delicious stock is to savor it on its own. A well-made ham stock doesn’t need much. Maybe just a sprinkle of kosher salt, a dash of pepper, and a handful of fresh herbs. Heat it up, pour it into a bowl, and take a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The depth of flavors, the warmth, and the feeling of contentment – it’s just what cooking is all about.

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make ham stock without vegetables?

While vegetables add depth and complexity to the stock, you can make it with just the ham bone if preferred.

Why is my ham stock gelatinous after refrigeration?

A gelatinous texture indicates that you’ve successfully extracted collagen from the bones when making stock, which turns into gelatin as it cools. This is a good sign of a well-made stock!

Can I reuse the ham bone to make another batch of stock?

While you can reuse it, the second batch might be less flavorful as most of the flavor would’ve been extracted in the first round.

A ladle pouring ham stock into a slow cooker.

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📖 Recipe

A jar of ham stock with the lid open.

Ham Stock Recipe

Bethany Galloway
Discover how to make ham stock and turn those leftover ham bones into a rich, flavorful broth. Perfect for soups or as a base for other dishes, this recipe is both easy and versatile, ensuring your ham dinner stretches just a bit further while delivering mouth-watering flavors.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine American, British
Servings 12 cups
Calories 46 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ham hock or ham shank or leftover ham bones and meat from a roast
  • 2 celery sticks chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 leek chopped
  • 1 onion washed, unpeeled, and cut into quarters
  • 1 head garlic quartered in an cross shape
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 2.8 liters water 12 cups, or until your appliance is full or pot is almost full

Instructions
 

For the Stovetop:

  • Add all of the ingredients to either a large pot or dutch oven. Add the water 2-3 inches below the rim, leaving some space for boiling. Bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat. When bubbles appear on the surface, skim them off.
    Vegetables, water, and ham hock in a pot.
  • Then, lower the temperature to medium-low and cook for 3-4 hours. Taste after 3 hours and if it's not strong enough, give it some extra time.
  • When it's ready, strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and either use immediately or allow it to cool completely and store it in the fridge or freezer. See below for more storage instructions.
    Straining ham stock through a fine mesh sieve.

For the Slow Cooker:

  • Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with water and cook it on high for 6 hours or low for 10.
    Ham stock in a slow cooker.
  • When it’s finished, strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and either use immediately or allow it to cool completely and store it in the fridge or freezer. See below for more storage instructions.

For the Instant Pot:

  • Add all of your ingredients to the instant pot. Fill the water up to the maximum line, and close the lid.
    Ham hock, water, herbs, and vegetables in an instant pot.
  • Turn the vent to “sealing” on the lid. Press “pressure cook”, then “high pressure”, and set the timer for one hour. When it's finished, allow it to release naturally (about 30 minutes).
  • Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and either use it immediately or allow it to cool completely and store it in the fridge or freezer. See below for more storage instructions.

Notes

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  1. Storage: Once your ham bone broth is ready and strained, it’s essential to let it cool down. You can just set the stock aside, allowing it to reach room temperature, or use an ice bath for a quicker cooling process.
  2. Fridge: Store your stock in the fridge for up to a week. Pour it into airtight plastic containers or glass jars, leaving an inch of space at the top to allow for expansion.
  3. Removing the Fat Layer: After refrigerating, you might notice a layer of fat solidifying on the surface. When you’re ready to use the stock, you can easily remove this fat layer with a slotted spoon or skim it off. If you’d rather not have this fat in your stock, consider using a fat separator jug before storing.
  4. Freeze: Pour the stock into ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. This way, you can take out as much as you need without defrosting the entire batch.
  5. Thawing and Reheating From Frozen: When it’s time to use your frozen stock, move it from the freezer to the fridge for a day to thaw gently. If you’re in a hurry, you can directly reheat the stock in a pot over low heat until it’s melted and warmed up.

Recipe Tips:

  1. Skimming is Key: To achieve a clear and clean-tasting ham stock, always remember to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface, especially during the initial boiling phase on the stovetop. This is more than just for aesthetics; it also ensures a purer flavor profile.
  2. Don’t Rush: While the Instant Pot method is quick and efficient, if you’re using the stovetop or slow cooker, resist the urge to crank up the heat and speed up the process. A gentle, low simmer is crucial for extracting the full depth of flavors from the ingredients without overcooking or burning them.
  3. Browning for Enhanced Flavor: Want to take your stock to the next level? Consider browning the ham bone in a bit of olive oil or bacon fat over medium heat before adding your water and veggies. This caramelization adds an extra layer of depth to the final flavor of the stock. This step can be especially useful if you’re using a fresh ham hock or shank, as opposed to a pre-roasted ham bone from a holiday dinner.
  4. Adjusting Water Levels: The recipe calls for 2.8 liters of water, but feel free to adjust based on the size of your pot or the concentration you desire. If you want a stronger, more concentrated flavor, use less water. Remember, you can always dilute a strong stock, but you can’t easily concentrate a weak one.

Nutrition

Calories: 46kcalProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 35mgPotassium: 52mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword easy, ham broth, ham stock
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