How to Make Peppery Ham Stock

how to make peppery ham stock

Do you make your own stock?   Maybe after the holiday turkey carcass is picked clean?  But do you make Ham Stock?  Funny, recipes don’t call for it so we don’t think to make it.  But after trying this recipe I’m sure that will soon change.

Over the holidays we enjoyed a succulent natural, spiral-cut ham which my husband indulged with a slathering of a Cherry Port Glaze.  ‘Scrumptious’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.  As the Tupperware container holding the vast leftovers aerobically was pulled to and from the refrigerator for more helpings and sandwiches, I lazily thought I’d make some soup with the end of the ham and bone.  Silly me.  By the time I was sure nothing of substance could be left I opened the container to find shockingly that I was right but more so, nothing was left at all.  The bone had been picked clean, it looked almost power washed.

My habitual soup idea went out the window (incidentally if you are lucky enough to be left with a ham bone and some residual ham, you must try this recipe for Split Pea soup with Red Wine and Ham, it’s really fantastic).  I wasn’t ready to relinquish my dream quite yet however so decided to endeavor making  ham stock.  I’d never made it, which in hindsight seems strange as it would enhance so many dishes; beans, soups, stews, sauces and I’m sure more.

Carrots, celery and onion are the holy trinity of stock making.  With these three items you'll get all the flavor you need ot make a beautiful, full flavored stock (along with water and your carcass or bones).
Carrots, celery and onion are the holy trinity of stock making. With these three items you’ll get all the flavor you need ot make a beautiful, full flavored stock (along with water, a carcass or bones).

Let me tell you, when it was done, it was beyond my wildest dreams.  It was a luscious, perfect broth fully-flavored with the vegetable base and smoky sweetness of ham.  I added white peppercorns, a decent amount of them, which rounded out the stock beautifully.  They are less strong than black peppercorns so don’t be scared off.  If you grind 50 peppercorns it yields a bit over a teaspoon.  In this case the peppercorns are crushed so they will infuse into the stock and be strained out, leaving a contribution of flavor without overpowering the stock.

When I make stock I often freeze it in Ball Freezer Jars (though they are plastic) however this stock was used up without wasting a drop (more on that in the next blog post).  In the event you have not made stock before, it is not difficult by any means but it takes time, as do all good things in life.  It needs to simmer gently for all the flavors to meld together which ideally takes 4-5 hours.  Ultimately you will plan enough time to allow the prepared stock to overnight in the refrigerator before using.  This allows any fat to congeal on the top of the stock to be skimmed off or strained out.  To do it well the stock must be chilled first.

I feel sure once you’ve made ham stock it will be a staple in your kitchen from now on.  It offers such a unique, rich, soul-soothing broth that will elevate any dish in which you include it.

recipe for peppery ham stock gluten free

Peppery Ham Stock

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: PT4-5H

Yield: 4 cups

When more surface area of a food is exposed it imparts a great flavor. Therefore all the vegetables are chopped for the stock. In the end they are strained out so the chopping does not need to be precise. White peppercorns are not as boastfully spicy as their black peppercorn counterparts therefore the amount of pepper in the stock acts to compliment the flavors with some dimension yet not overpower. This stock is luscious and soul-soothing; sure to become a new favorite in your kitchen!


  • 1 tablespoon Butter, unsalted
  • 3 medium-large Carrots, scrubbed and rough chopped
  • 3 large Celery stock (with some leaves), scrubbed and rough chopped
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1-2 Ham Bones
  • 16 cups water
  • 40-50 White Peppercorns, whole


  1. Before beginning crush the peppercorns (do not grind them). Place peppercorns on a cutting board or other firm, flat surface. Place a heavy pan on top of them and push down to crush them. Do it a few times which should leave large pieces. Note: the peppercorns are strained out in the end so larger pieces work well to impart flavor but not remain in the end stock.
  2. In a large stock pot melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted all the chopped vegetables and sauté until the onions are almost transparent.
  3. Add water, ham bones and peppercorns. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Partially cover and allow to simmer for 4-5 hours, periodically tasting the stock for density of flavor. Note: I boiled mine for 4 ½ hours and the yield was 4 cups of stock.
  4. Allow stock to cool and place into a covered/sealable container in the refrigerator. The following day skim the top of the stock with a spoon to remove any fat or strain through cheesecloth or a fine strainer. If not using immediately, store sealed and refrigerated for up to four days or freeze.



    • Toni Dash says

      After reading your comment I wanted to put the pepper volume into context. If you grind 50 peppercorns it yeilds a bit over a teaspoon. In this case you are crushing them so the entire peppercorn is not imparted into the stock but rather infused as they are strained out. It adds character to the stock but does not leave you sneezing!

  1. says

    I love making my own stocks, I got a fagor pressure cooker for christmas and I definitely want to start using it to make stocks since it cuts the time way down! Thanks for sharing, now make some ham and bean soup! :)

  2. says

    Great post! I use ham bone all the time in soup (and when I don’t have it, I substitute a ham shank – works perfectly) but have never actually made ham stock. I really should, because I use a commercial ham base all the time as a soup enhancer, but this is so much healthier. Definitely something I should try, and I can’t believe I never thought of it. Thanks for the idea!

    • says

      I agree John! When this was done and I tasted it, I felt it was under my nose for years and I never connected the dots. I do make soup with the bone usually (and usually there is some ham left on it!). I savored every single drop of the stock and lamented not having more. The dish I made with it (check back in a few days) was fantastic I’m sure due to using the stock. Thanks as always for visiting John!

    • says

      I agree completely Soni! In fact you’ll not there is no added salt in this recipe. I planned to salt it at the end and it was perfection; well balanced with no need of salt. I’m sure we all got a good dose of sodium over the holidays along with sugar!

  3. says

    Hi Toni! Love the stock! A question though: Why take out the fat? It seemed there was only a tablespoon of butter and a smidgeon of ham fat from the marrow. I need fat, especially in winter. Don’t you think it adds to the whole taste? Aren’t these the good fats? Love your blog – day after day, year after year!!!

    • says

      Hi Kate! This stock was perfectly buttery and deep in flavor without the bulk of the fat. Enough of the flavor and fat were incorporated to make it a great end result. However it’s certainly an option to leave the fat in if desired. I personally don’t prefer that. One could reserve it and use it elsewhere too; like the old tin can full of bacon fat that gets added into green beans!

      All this to me is the beauty of cooking is that there are no ‘rules’. Everyone can approach it how they like!

  4. says

    First off, I have the same vintage turquoise pot and I love it!

    Secondly, this sounds great. Honestly, I’ve never (ever) thought to make ham stock. It’s probably because I always skip the Easter ham and go for lamb. :) But, if I ever find myself with ham leftovers, I think this is a genius idea!


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