Ham Stock

It amazes me that there is a market for boneless ham when there is so much good to be wrested from a ham bone. Making soup, especially bean or pea, is a traditional use for such a bone and one to which I often put it. Lately, however, I have discovered that ham stock offers more flexibility: I can use it as the base for soup or I can put it to a variety of other uses from ham gravy to risotto.

There is no magic to brewing a pot of stock. Brown the bones in oven, or not, put them in stockpot with some mirepoix, a few seasonings, and water. Simmer for a good long time—how long depends on the bones—strain, cool, defat, and freeze in suitable containers. Done!

I recently decided to try making stock in my electric pressure cooker. The results were far better than I expected. The tradeoff is speed and ease for quantity. While I can make five or six quarts at a time in my stockpot, the pressure cooker only yields about three and half. But it is done in under two hours—less if I preheat water while preparing the ingredients. Incidentally, do not take the quantities in this recipe too seriously, they are approximate.



Ham bone



Onion, diced (2 medium)

8 ounces

250 grams

Carrot, diced (1 or 2)

4 ounces

125 grams

Celery, diced (1 large stalk)

4 ounces

125 grams

Garlic, crushed

2 cloves

2 cloves

Bay leaves

3 or 4

3 or 4

Cloves, whole

4 or 5

4 or 5

Peppercorns, whole

8 to 10

8 to 10

Water (see method)

about 4 quarts

about 4 liters



Put everything into the pressure cooker. Use just enough water to fill it to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Cook for one hour at high pressure—in my Cuisinart electric that is about 10 psi (69 kPa). Allow the cooker to cool for 10 or 15 minutes then release the pressure per the manufacturer’s instructions. Using tongs, remove the bone then strain the stock into a large bowl or pot. Refrigerate immediately. When cool, skim off the fat. You can discard the fat if you wish but I usually save it to cook with. (Ham fat is particularly good for making bubble and squeak.) Decant the stock into one quart screw top plastic freezer jars.


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