A home-made stock beats cubes, powders and pastes from the flavour point of view and it is also salt-free, which many of the chilled stocks sold in supermarkets are not. When you use the stock in a recipe you can add salt to taste, depending on the other ingredients.
If you prefer a richer, brown stock, first roast the bones in a 230°C (450°F, gas mark 8) oven for 40 minutes. * For a non-bone stock, brown a 125 g (4 1/2 oz) piece of stewing beef or lean boneless lamb or pork in 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a large saucepan. Remove the meat, and add 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 celery stick, all roughly chopped, to the pan. Brown the vegetables, then pour in 2 litres (3 1/2 pints) water and bring to the boil. Replace the meat and heat until simmering again, skimming as necessary, then add 2 bay leaves, 1 sprig each of parsley and fresh thyme, 10 black peppercorns and 1/2 tsp salt. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Strain, cool and remove the fat as above. This will make about 1.2 litres (2 pints). * After chilling the stock and removing the fat, you can boil it until reduced and concentrated in flavour, then cool and freeze it in ice-cube trays to make frozen ‘stock cubes’. These can then be packed together in a freezer bag and used individually – simply add them frozen to hot liquids in soups, casseroles and stews. They will melt almost instantly.