Chicken Stock for the Less Adventurous

You know, just the other day, I realized I had only written a post on how to make chicken stock using the odds and ends of a chicken (I’m talking about the heads, necks and feet). I think to some people, it may turn them “off” from making chicken stock because the idea of buying and having to look at heads and feet make them a bit.. squirmy.

I’m not going to lie. The first time I made chicken stock using the odds & ends, I was a bit squirmy as well. I felt the heads were looking at me. Yikes.

But, I kept telling myself that back in the day, people butchered their own chickens and it was just a part of life. In order for me to go back to my roots and maintain a deeper connection and appreciation to the food I was feeding myself and my family, I had to suck it up!

I threw all the odds and ends into the stock and after 24 hours, I was pleasantly surprised with a broth that was so gelatinous that it basically looked like jello. Yes, jello. If you want to see what I’m talking about, I invite you to click HERE.

However, I can’t base everyone’s comfort zone from my own. So, I thought I would share how I make chicken stock with just the bones or whole meaty chicken because everyone should be making their own homemade liquid gold.

Making Stock with Carcass & Bones

Basically, it only takes a few steps to make your chicken go from carcass  to liquid gold.

Place picked over carcass & bones in a large stock pot

IF you are feeling up to it, I encourage you to add a few feet as this adds more gelatin (which is so healing) to your finished product. Don’t worry if you are not feeling up to it. Baby steps. 🙂

 

Add in veggies

Add an onion (cut in quarters, skin and all), a couple carrots (I don’t even bother to peel), and a few ribs of celery. Using produce that is almost on it’s way out is great as well. Adding veggies gives it more nutrients and minerals.

Sometimes I’ve heard of people keeping the end pieces of onions and peelings of carrots and other veggies in a bag in the freezer. When it’s time to make stock, instead of using whole pieces of veggies, they use what is in the freezer bag. I don’t do it this way because I use all the leftover pieces for my DIY trash can compost bin.

 

Fill stock pot up with filtered water

Filtered water is ideal (THIS is the water filter I dream about) but if you don’t have it, don’t sweat. Fill the pot until it covers the top of carcass and vegetables. If you add too much water, the stock can taste watered down.

 

Add 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

THIS is my favorite brand of raw apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes, or so. The vinegar draws extra minerals out of the bones and veggies.

 

When the 30 minutes is up

Turn the heat up to high and boil. If there is any foam-like substance that comes to the top, skim it off using a skimmer. This foam has off-flavors and you don’t want it to ruin your stock

 

After a few minutes of boiling

Reduce the temperature to low. You want a soft, rolling boil. Achieving this depends on your own pot and stove and may take time to master. If you have it boiling too hard, the water will drain down extremely fast and you’ll be left with a small amount of stock.

 

Simmer for anywhere between 6-48 hours

I usually simmer mine for at least 24 hours.

 

Transfer to containers

When the stock is done, I use a mesh strainer (like THIS) and a large glass bowl (like THIS) and pour the stock through the strainer. What you should be left with in the bowl is a dark golden liquid (aka Liquid Gold).

At this point you can either do one of three things:

  1. Wait for the broth to cool down while it’s in the bowl, then transfer into containers
  2. Spoon into desired containers, set in the refrigerator and once cool, transfer as many as you want to the freezer
  3. Choose either option 1 or 2 and then reuse your bones for a second batch. Learn more HERE.

What Should I Use for Containers?

It’s really up to you. I use random recycled glass food jars for my stock. Some people put them plastic containers. Some people use uniform wide-mouth freezable Ball jars (like THIS). I don’t think there is any right way or wrong. The most important thing to keep in mind when using glass jars is to not fill them up all the way. You need to allow some space in the jar when it freezes over. If you don’t, you’ll open your freezer to a bunch of broken glass jars with unusable stock.

     

Not cool and not fun. I’ve only had it happen to me twice and I’ve been making stock for about 2 and a half years now. Keeping the liquid about 3-4 inches from the top is a sufficient amount of space.

 

Making Stock With Meaty Chicken

Sometimes I’ll make stock using a whole meaty chicken. When I say meaty chicken, I mean I’m using the whole chicken without cooking it, not just the meatless carcass. Usually when I use this method, I use what’s called a “stewing hen.” A stewing hen is basically a spent laying chicken whose meat is too tough to roast and eat. Instead of wasting the meat, it is absolutely wonderful to use in making your own stock.

What’s even better is stewing hens are usually a fraction of the price of regular meat chickens. I know the farm in California that we used to be a part of would sell their stewing hens for like $4-5 a pound, compared to $7 a pound. Every dollar counts!

The steps to making stock with a meaty chicken is the same as making stock with a carcass. Just add the whole chicken and follow the rest of the steps listed above.

See! Simple and easy and you get nourishing stock to add to your soups, rice, gravies and sauces or even just a mug!

 

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About

Aside from being a wannabe backyard homesteader who wrangles chickens and free-range kids, Loriel is the owner/creator of the professional natural lifestyle blog Naturally Loriel, owner of the organic spice blend business Naturally Free, and freelance professional food photographer.


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