It is almost that time of year again when I have to start considering the despatch of our birds. This year we have a goose, four ducks and sixteen chickens as well as six rabbits to add to our freezer.
But first I have to somehow make room for them in my two crammed to the gunnels chest freezers. One still contains large amounts of Ernie the lamb, and in the bottom of the other I still have some bits of bacon I made from our pigs in 2007.
Whilst delving around looking for tomorrow's dinner party main (rabbit) I found a couple of bags that I had conveniently labelled 'duck carcasses for stock'.
So in preparation for the dinner party rabbit dish I am making the stock for it today.
Stock is really easy to make but very rewarding taste wise. You can make either brown stock from roasted bones - particularly good with big meaty marrow bones like beef, or a white stock from uncooked bones.
These are uncooked bones leftover from last winter's duck cull, where the breasts and legs have been removed but there are still meaty tendrils on the ribs and the wing nubs.
The basic ingredients for a good flavoursome stock are carrots, onions, bay leaves, garlic cloves, salt and pepper.
This basic stock is ideal in pies, stew, casseroles and gravy.
I make flavoured stocks if I intend them for a specific dish, so if making a curry I will make a stronger garlic stock, or a thyme based stock or marjoram. Just add big bunches of the fresh herbs or a tablespoon of dried to the stock water.
Amounts are always rough because I find it depends on the bones, but at least 2 large carrots peeled and cut into batons, 2 medium onions quartered, 3 bay leaves and 5 cloves of garlic. A generous teaspoon of salt and some black pepper ground in plus 5 or 6 peppercorns in the stock water. Add the bones and leave to simmer for hours on gentle heat.
To preserve, strain the liquid and while it is still very hot, decant into a clean and dry but empty wine bottle, cork and leave in the fridge where it will keep for a couple of weeks. Once opened it does go off quite quickly but a wine bottle (70 cl) is about the right amount of stock for most recipes.