Why Does My Chicken Stock Taste Like Water?

Heather says:

I cheated. I’m using a Google query for today’s question:

Why does my chicken stock taste like water?

The answer is pretty straightforward, you probably used -wait for it- too much water. For every pound to pound and a half of chicken bones, you should use no more than 6 – 8 cups of water.

Tim butted in to ask, “Did you take [the chicken] out of the plastic?”

However, all is not lost with watery chicken stock, you still have a chance to redeem your efforts through a process called reduction. Return the watery chicken stock to a pot with a heavy bottom. This time, instead of a traditional stock pot, you may want to use a pot that is wider than it is tall. This will increase the surface area of the liquid, encouraging evaporation.

Adjust the heat so the stock comes to and remains at a simmer rather than a boil. Leave the pot uncovered and simmer until the quantity of water is reduced by half or so. This technique is known as reducing, when a sauce is reduced, it is called a reduction.

The other potential reason for watery stock is that the stock was not cooked long enough. Making stock isn’t a complicated process, but it does take time. It takes time for the water to leach all of the flavor from the bones, vegetables, and herbs -if any were used.

Finally, if you’re used to canned stock, homemade stock is going to have a different flavor. Most people will agree that it has a richer flavor and better mouthfeel than the canned versions. However, there is a big difference between homemade and commercially prepared stocks. Commercially prepared stocks -almost all- contain lots of sodium. Salt is a flavor enhancer which stimulates our sense of taste. Since homemade stock is made in anticipation of being used as an ingredient, it has no sodium and may be perceived as less flavorful than a commercial preparation. If you use homemade stock in a recipe calling for commercial, it may be necessary to add salt to achieve the desired taste AND if a recipe calls for homemade stock and commercial is used in its place, it’s usually prudent to omit any additional salt.

If you’re interested in making chicken stock, I’ve extensively covered two techniques in the past, both the Asian and French methods of making chicken stock.

Good luck random Googler, good luck.

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2 thoughts on “Why Does My Chicken Stock Taste Like Water?”

  1. I use my crockpot to make stock. I toss in the leftover chicken/turkey bones after dinner along with veggies and some seasonings and throw it on until the next morning. The house smells wonderful when we wake up and I feel like it was no work at all.


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