Homemade Fish Stock


I don’t make fish stock nearly as often as I make chicken stock, but variety is good, and fish stock is especially rich in iodine. Fish stock can be used to make seafood-based soups, but mostly I just drink it. That’s right, instead of coffee or tea in the morning, I’ll heat up a cup of stock, add a pinch of sea salt, and drink it down! I don’t do this every morning, just when I feel like I need it.

Fish stock is a mineral-rich health cocktail. Like chicken or beef stock, fish stock is a rich source of gelatin, and of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon and sulphur. The unique benefits of fish stock lie in using fish heads in addition to fish carcasses. The fish head contains the thyroid gland, and this imparts iodine, thyroid hormone, and other substances that nourish and strengthen the thyroid gland. For more information on the benefits of stock, including fish stock, here are links to a couple articles written by Sally Fallon:
Beautiful Broth
Broth is Beautiful

Ideally fish stock should be made from non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper. According to the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, the problem with oily fish such as salmon, mackeral, herring, sardines etc. is that “highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process”. I get my fish heads/carcasses from Backyard CSA, which is a great resource for anyone living in the Sonoma County area.

Is fish stock stinky to make? Yes, it is a bit. I always leave the fan above the stove on while it’s simmering. But the smell doesn’t last, and the health benefits are worth it.

Update: I should add that I’ve come across several fish stock recipes that add white wine. I’m not sure what the purpose of this is (probably just for flavor) but I don’t use white wine and it still tastes good, provided you use aromatic vegetables in the stock such as onions, garlic, celery, carrots etc.

Fish Stock

Fish heads and carcasses – about 1 pound for a small batch of stock
1 onion, coarsely chopped (I left the skin on)
Additional vegetables such as carrot or celery
1-2 cloves garlic
Several sprigs parsley
Splash of vinegar
Cold filtered water (2-3 quarts)

1. Add the fish and vegetables to the stock pot.
2. Add enough water to cover the fish heads by an inch or so, and add a splash of vinegar.
3. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
4. Reduce heat, cover and gently simmer for about 4 hours.
5. Let the stock cool a little, then remove the fish carcasses/heads using tongs. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve to remove the vegetables and any other solids. Discard all solids.
6. Store the fish stock in the fridge, or freeze if not being used within a couple days.

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead, Make Your Own Mondays, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Whole New Mom, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys

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21 Comment

  1. Gabriella says: Reply

    I have been wanting to try this, but living in Ohio, I’m having a hard time finding whole fish with the head. That’s great that you have a resource near you. Do you also get the eggs with the fish carcasses? That’s something else I want to incorporate into my diet. 🙂

    1. Debbie says: Reply

      That’s a good question about the eggs….I don’t receive them as part of the carcass, but now that you mention it I’m going to ask! I must admit that before I started using Backyard CSA, I had trouble getting hold of the right type of fish carcasses, and I live in California! Do you have a fish monger nearby? Or perhaps just try asking at the seafood department of your local supermarket if they receice whole fish, in which case they might be able to keep aside some heads and carcasses for you. Alternatively, you could try an Asian supermarket.

      1. Gabriella Iacobone says: Reply

        There is the North Market in downtown Columbus.. a bit of a hike, but I bet they have whole fish there…hopefully with eggs!

        1. Debbie says: Reply

          That would be a fun outing, I love going to markets. You never know what good stuff you’ll find! Fingers crossed on the fish, and fish eggs!

  2. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

  3. […] Carnival Guidelines: 1) Please, no bouillon or commercial stock/broth! Soup made from homemade stock/bone broth is so much more nourishing than anything you can buy in the supermarket. If you’re not sure how to make your own stock, here are some links that will hopefully help: Chicken Stock Beef Stock Fish Stock […]

  4. […] Carnival Guidelines: 1) Please, no bouillon or commercial stock/broth! Soup made from homemade stock/bone broth is so much more nourishing than anything you can buy in the supermarket. If you’re not sure how to make your own stock, here are some links that will hopefully help: Chicken Stock Beef Stock Fish Stock […]

  5. […] Carnival Guidelines: 1) Please, no bouillon or commercial stock/broth! Soup made from homemade stock/bone broth is so much more nourishing than anything you can buy in the supermarket. If you’re not sure how to make your own stock, here are some links that will hopefully help: Chicken Stock Beef Stock Fish Stock […]

  6. […] Beef stock Chicken stock Fish stock […]

  7. […] fish in a pot with some veggies, herbs, water and a dash of white wine, and made nutrient-dense fish stock. almost all of my favourite meals start with these – ginger, garlic, lime and […]

  8. Lydia says: Reply

    I appreciated this post — I was specifically trying to figure out why they recommend non-oily fish and you answered my question. About adding wine, the reason for that, as I understand, is that it helps full nutrients into the broth. They recommend you use either wine or vinegar. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with using both, it’s just important to have at least one in there. I see you used vinegar, so it looks like you’re covered. 🙂

    1. Lydia says: Reply

      *pull nutrients, not “full” (my oops)

      1. Debbie says: Reply

        Hi Lydia, thanks for the feedback! Yes, I prefer to use vinegar, but I never stopped to think that wine would provide the same benefit. I hope you enjoy making your stock 🙂

    2. teresa says: Reply

      copied and pasted from above
      ~Ideally fish stock should be made from non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper. According to the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, the problem with oily fish such as salmon, mackeral, herring, sardines etc. is that “highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process”. I get my fish heads/carcasses from Backyard CSA, which is a great resource for anyone living in the Sonoma County area.

  9. […] Fish head broth. You can find many recipes for fish broth online,  Here is a good one, http://easynaturalfood.com/2011/12/31/fish-stock/  Fish broth is so nutritious, it is full of minerals and gelatin and many women say it makes you […]

  10. teresa says: Reply

    warm hello 🙂
    i was reading on some gaps website
    that u add salt and vinegar and the water and the meat and bones
    and let it sit for 30 minutes?
    before adding heat?
    to draw out the minerals???
    i dont remember the page
    it had things very concise and i clear
    or so i thought at the time
    kindly
    thanks

  11. teresa says: Reply

    i did see u say today on one of your video’s that u are aware of the french
    concept of letting it set for 30 minutes and that u are open to comments
    from those who know more about it 🙂
    i am having the time of my life addicted to your video’s :)))))))
    wow i can have homemade raisin bran???? jeez Louise!

  12. teresa says: Reply

    i am curious what health benefits one would miss if they wanted to use wine instead of the avc…im assuming its not part of the nourishing traditions….i m curious how this pulling thing happens

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