Questions About Making Homemade Chicken Stock

Q: How do you make chicken stock? Is there a basic recipe for making chicken stock?

A: I have two, one is based on the French method and the other on an Asian method of stock making. The ratios for chicken or turkey parts to water and vegetables is similar in both. While the methods are different both versions have specific steps for removing impurities, rendering a higher quality stock. Other methods of stock making are not wrong the stock making methods in the tables are written to yield consistent, good results.

Professional chefs often follow a more rigid method, carefully cooling the stock pot in a water bath before storing. This additional step yields a clearer stock, but is often awkward in most basic kitchen set ups.

Notice that neither recipe calls for salt.

Chicken stock is not chicken soup.

Stock is an ingredient that will be altered further in recipes, with the addition of salt and spices. When tasting your stock, if it seems bland, it’s because you’re expecting a different flavor the stock should provide. Commercially prepared stocks are often made to taste like soups and contain a lot of sodium. Just be aware that what you are making here will not taste like a bouillon cube or chicken broth from a can. It will have a very mild flavor. Do not underestimate its performance in your recipes.

Asian Chicken Stock Method French Chicken Stock Method
Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1.5 lbs chicken chicken bones / scraps
  • 2 carrots scrubbed and cut in half
  • 2 ribs of celery scrubbed and cut in half
  • 1 onion quartered (keep the papery layers, too)
  • 3 cloves of garlic cut in half
  • 8 – 10 peppercorns*
  • thyme (a handful of fresh or a generous TBSP dried)
  • 8 cups cold water + 6 cups cold water
Ingredients:

  • 1- 1.5 lbs chicken bones / pieces or 1 turkey neck
  • contents of the giblet bag, except the liver (that’s the slimy squishy one), optional
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into chunks
  • 2 ribs celery, washed, cut into chunks, with the leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion peeled, washed, and cut into quarters
  • 6 cups of COLD water
Method:

  1. Bring 8 cups of water to a full boil. Add the chicken bones and boil for 5 minutes, it may be very foamy.
  2. Drain, reserving the chicken, discarding the liquid.
  3. Place the chicken parts and all of the remaining ingredients in the pot and cover with the 6 cups of cold water (use more if necessary)
  4. Bring just to a boil, reduce immediately to a simmer. Cook partially covered for two hours, uncovered for 1 hour, this should reduce the liquid volume by about 1/2. Add more water if any bones are exposed.
  5. Strain, cool, and store for later use.
Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a stock pot, cover with the 6 cups cold water
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat immediately to bring the stock down to a simmer.
  3. Carefully skim off all of the foam, this will need to be done several times. Simmer 1 hour.
  4. Strain the stock, preferably through several layers of cheese cloth, carefully into a clean pot.
  5. Bring just to a boil, immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until the volume has been reduced by half, usually about 2 hours.
  6. Cool and store promptly. Some fat may collect on the top after cooling, this can be scooped off with a knife or spoon

Q: How long will my homemade chicken stock last in the refrigerator?
A: Properly refrigerated -at or below 40°F- stock will last 2 – 3 days in the refrigerator.

Q: Can I freeze my homemade stock?
A: Yes.

 Divide the stock into into frequently used portions (1 cup, 2 cups, or 1 quart). Stock can be frozen in freezer safe containers or freezer bags.

Q: I made stock last night and this morning it was like Jell-O®. Is this normal? Is this safe?
A: Congratulations, you have made a very high quality stock.  Gelatin is a protein found in the connective tissue and cartilage of animals. Sure it’s kind of scary looking, but your soups and sauces will have a richer flavor and feel to them, and rank a little higher on the nutrition scale.

Q: Why is my homemade chicken stock cloudy?
A: There are several possible reasons: too much fat on the bones and scraps, the stock was not skimmed enough during cooking, or the stock reached a vigorous boil breaking up fats and proteins. The Asian method uses blanching, the quick boil, to remove many of the proteins that can create a cloudy stock. The French method relies on careful skimming and straining.

Don’t worry, cloudy stock is perfectly safe.

Q: Can I add other vegetables to my chicken stock?
A: Sure, but remember your stock is not a garbage disposal and be aware that strongly flavored vegetables like cabbage will create a strongly flavored stock. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes also yield cloudy stocks.

Q: This sounds really time consuming, does it really need three hours of cooking?
A: Yes, stocks are not fast food, but they are not labor intensive. Except for the actually draining, skimming, and occasional stir, the stock can work quietly all by itself. It doesn’t need much attention. Leave it alone.

What else would you like to know about making your own chicken stock?

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Comments

  1. JRae says

    How long do you boil the French method before straining, and how long to boil after straining?

    • says

      Good catch, I edited with the proper times. (I had them in originally and accidentally cut them out while making the table). Also, don't boil, you just bring them to a boil and back it down to a simmer, so really it should only be at the boiling point a matter of seconds. Boiling is just a visible indication that it has just passed the proper temperature.
      Simmering = 1 hour before straining, and ~ 2 after.
      Just to be clear with the terms: http://www.home-ec101.com/the-difference-between-

  2. Carol says

    I use my pressure cooker to make stock – 10 lbs for an hour (I think …I'm doing it from memory for non-high altitude people) It is fantastic.

    • says

      Great idea, I'll do a post in the near future about using a pressure cooker for stock. I also want to do posts on making beef, fish, shrimp, and vegetable stocks, too.
      I need 3 more of me. :)

  3. Keter says

    I prefer a really robust, chicken-only stock. Mine almost always makes gelatin, too. I start with whatever leftover chicken I have, usually a carcass and skin from a rotisserie chicken I buy at my local grocery store. It's actually cheaper to buy a cooked chicken than a raw one! Some meat is left on the carcass after carving.

    I throw the whole thing into a pot sized to hold it without a lot more room, mostly cover it with filtered water (it will collapse as it breaks down), and add a good bit of Bragg's apple cider vinegar. I would guesstimate that I use 4-5 tablespoons. After cooking, you don't taste the vinegar, but the acid breaks down the chicken very thoroughly, including softening the cartilage and bones, which is necessary to extract the gelatin and healthful glucosamine.

    The pot is then covered and heated on low. I let it go at least four hours and it never gets above a low simmer.

    By the time it is done, the carcass has completely fallen apart. I place a wire mesh strainer over the top of a quart mason jar and pour the stock off. It fills two jars, and sometimes I have a little bit left over. I cap the jars and put them straight into the refrigerator. I don't skim or clarify, I find the stock loses flavor when I do that, and my recipes are all adjusted for the more robust flavor. While not shelf-safe canned, the jars will pull a good vacuum and will store for quite a long time in the refrigerator. I don't know how long because it always gets used pretty quickly. ;o)

    I let the carcass cool in the covered pot and then pick through it to remove the hard bones, finger-crush any soft bones, and end up with a container full of meat scraps, cartilage, skin, and crushed soft bone for making homemade dog food, which gets frozen until I'm ready to make a new batch. When I use the chicken stock, I spoon the hardened fat off the top (which also helps seal the stock and keep it from oxidizing) and add it to my container of dog food scraps in the freezer.

    I also make pork stock using a similar method. Pork ribs make particularly good stock and leave wonderful cartilage for the dogs.

  4. says

    I like to use the slow cooker to make my stocks and broths. throw everything in, fill with water and set to low for 5-6 hours

  5. Melissa says

    I use my crockpot, also! I put the bones in the freezer until I have enough (even mixed chicken and pork bones) and put in the crockpot, covered with water overnight. If I cook it during the day, I get too anxious to leave it in long enough, so this way I wake up to perfectly done broth. What a difference it makes when you use this in your cooking! I shutter to think of all the bones I've 'wasted' over the years!!

  6. lisaflex says

    i just did it for the first time in the CP. smells wonderful! it is now in the frig so that i can defat it tomorrow and put in freezer size portions.

  7. Kitti says

    I love making my own stock and prefer the low and slow on the stove method. My problem is that I haven't found a chicken soup recipe that really brings UP the flavor when I use my own stock. It always comes out bland. Any recommendations???

  8. the latest style jer says

    Excellent info here. This fascinating post created me smile. Perhaps in the event you throw in a couple of pics it will make the whole factor more intriguing.

  9. musingminds says

    For pork stock I buy neck bones from the meat dept (really cheap) and roast them first. Then I add them to the stock pot with onion, carrot, celery, bay, and a thyme bundle or bouquet garni. Ham stock with a ham bone.