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As I was looking back through my archives and working to make some changes to the site a few weeks ago, I realized I had never posted on how to make chicken stock.  I can’t believe that!  It’s such a basic food, and a staple in any real food kitchen.  I constantly have several ice cube trays and big bowls of it around.  I have a pot on the stove right now!  Yet, I’ve never posted on it.  Seems weird.

Anyway, that’s the reason for today’s post!  Homemade stock is amazing stuff.  It’s full of gelatin and calcium and lots of different nutrients.  It actually soothes and heals the digestive system (which is why it’s so key on GAPS).  It’s not an old wives’ tale that good stock can heal illnesses!  If you have a cold, please do eat chicken soup!  It’s gotten to where I don’t even want soup from anywhere but home, because I know it just doesn’t have the same amazing properties (in fact, it’s pretty much junk; it’s a tiny bit of stock mixed with MSG and other yucky stuff).

Pay attention: unless you are lucky and have a farmer who makes it and sells it like I do (at the crazy expensive price of $3.50 a quart!), you cannot buy this (bouillon cubes are junk, do not buy them!  Don’t mess with store-bought “organic broth” either, it’s not real)!  And even if you can, do you want to pay those prices?  We go through a gallon or more a week, so I don’t.  And I can make over a gallon of stock for less than that.  Free if you want to consider that we eat the meat and I’m using just veggie scraps; parts most people just throw away anyway.  Who can pass that up?!  Excellent nutrition for free?  And it’s quite easy.  It requires only a few minutes to start, lots of “ignore” time, and a few minutes to cool and put it away.

You will need:

  • A whole chicken, roasted and picked clean; OR a stewing hen (raw)
  • 2 – 3 lbs. of chicken feet (optional)
  • A 16-qt. stock pot
  • An onion, chopped in 2 – 3 pieces
  • A couple carrots, chopped in 2 – 3 pieces each
  • Some celery, chopped in 2 – 3 pieces each
  • OR use onion peels and ends, carrot peels, celery ends, and other “scraps” (cheaper!)
  • Water (cold)

A few notes:

  1. This works really well with turkey bones, too.  In fact, I kind of prefer it, but they’re not available all the time.  (You should have seen my freezer around Thanksgiving!!)
  2. Chicken feet add extra yummy gelatin but many people find them disgusting.  I don’t get it, personally.  (Maybe that’s because growing up I had a book about old-world cooking called “Watch out for chicken feet in your soup!” and a grandma was teaching a kid about how to cook up excellent traditional soup, so to me it seems normal and a good idea….)
  3. Most people use apple cider vinegar to draw the gelatin out of the bones.  I tried it once and didn’t really care for it, nor did I think it made a difference.  I don’t have trouble with min gelling nicely without it.  And I don’t like ACV anyway and never have it around.
  4. I also don’t bother with sea salt, pepper, or other herbs or spices.  I make my stock plain, then flavor it up how I want when I’m cooking with it later.

Now.  To make it.  This could not be easier.

First, take your chicken carcass (after eating the yummy roast chicken and picking it mostly clean; I often leave some back meat on) and dump it in the pot.  Or, your stewing hen.  It can be frozen still, it doesn’t matter.

Now, add your feet!  (I like them and always have them around.  Maybe that’s why my stock always gels so nicely.)

Then, add some onion and celery and carrots or scraps.  I had half an onion left from cooking so I’m using that.  I also had the remnants of a bunch of celery that was not good for much else.

Now, fill up your pot with water.  I use tap water (I know…bad!), filtered is better.  Do what you have to.

Move it carefully to your stove.  This is a good chore for a husband!  I did it myself this time, but other times I might use my 8-cup blender and fill it with water several times and dump it into the pot already on the stove.  A little more work, but then I don’t have to lift it when it’s full.

Turn it on low-medium now.  Know your stove — I have one burner that basically doesn’t cook unless it’s on at least medium-high, so that gets turned…well, on medium-high.  But generally you want it lower.  The stock shouldn’t boil, ever.  It should just simmer very gently, and it needs to heat slowly.  It will turn a funny white color and won’t taste very nice if you boil it.

Walk away.  Let it sit at least 12 hours, and 18 – 24 is even better.  This is mine after about 18 hours.  See how rich and golden it is, and all that fat floating on top?

That’s done!  Let it cool a bit, then strain it into containers.  Yes, glass would be ideal, but I don’t have enough right now.  If it’s cool, plastic is okay.  And don’t skim off all that lovely fat, you want that in there!  (But don’t make the mistake I once did of drinking a whole glass of stock with tons of fat and sea salt, it will cause die-off and you will be miserable….)

It’s a good idea to have some nice large containers, 4 – 8 cups each (mine are around 6; this is perfect for one pot of soup for a week of lunches for Ben, or dinner for all of us).  It’s also a good idea to do some in ice cube trays, so that you can pop out just a few cubes at once to make a sauce or gravy, heat for a quick drink (not in the microwave, please!), thin baby food, or whatever.  I usually do both.

And that’s it!  If you had a lot of bones, you can go ahead and fill the pot up again and use the same bones for a second batch.  I often do this, occasionally adding a few extra feet.  Your second batch won’t be as rich and gelled as your first, but it will still make good soup.

Have you ever made chicken stock, or do you make it on a regular basis?  What is your method?  What are your favorite uses?


This is the writings of:

Kate is wife to Ben and mommy to Bekah (5), Daniel (4), Jacob (2), and Nathan (born March 2013). She is passionate about God, health, and food. She has written 7 cookbooks and a book entitled A Practical Guide to Children's Health. When she's not blogging, she's in the kitchen, sewing, or homeschooling her children. You can also find her as a contributor at Keeper of the Home.

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15 Comments

  1. I just love making chicken stock! It is so easy and makes the whole house smell good. I freeze it in quart jars for easy use.

    Reply

  2. We make stock about once a week. We usually roast a chicken for dinner and use the bones and veggie scraps for stock. At the end of dinner we pick the chicken clean and save the meat for sandwiches or salad. Everything else goes into the stock pot. We cover it and cook it over night. We usually get about 5 quarts of good stock. This gets frozen in either 1 quart or 1 pint containers. We never seem to get ahead. Over the holidays when we were cooking chickens and turkeys we made stock in our 24 quart pot. We cooked it for 2 days and pressure canned the stock afterword. We usually use what we have frozen, but it is nice to have extra when we need it. We've never used the feet. Have to try that next time. We also do beef stock when we have a large roast with the bone in, or right after we have a beef processed and have a large quantity of bones.

    Reply

  3. I make it with just the feet. Was a little leery at first but the taste of it will fix that problem real fast! Last week I made it with necks because my farmer didn't have feet, and it was good too – but I think I like feet better.

    Reply

  4. Kate,
    I'm enjoying your blog SO much and am just beginning my journey into real food! Hooray! So I have a few questions about the chicken stock (some of which stemmed from the comments already posted as well):

    - How long does the stock stay good and fresh if you don't freeze it or pressure can it (i.e. in the fridge)?
    - Also, are any of you freezing in glass jars? Does that ever cause problems like broken glass all over the freezer? If you aren't freezing large quantities in glass jars, what do you use?
    - Do you skim off any of the fat off later when you are cooking or making soup?

    Thanks for sharing your life with us! Blessings!
    -Lauren

    Reply

  5. ok, Kate being i am also in columbus, where do you get chicken feet from? just curious, thank you!

    Reply

  6. Lauren,

    If I had the money I'd buy big Pyrex glass containers and use those. I've frozen them before with stock and other stuff in them with no problems. The mason jars are not as sturdy and I worry about them. I have broken a couple in the freeze. I never skim any of the fat off, either, not even when making soup! I keep it all in. :)

    Michelle,

    The farm has them. :)

    Reply

  7. I've been making stock with the bones from roast chicken for a long time, and love it. And freezing it in smaller quantities (I use a muffin pan for that) is a great idea, too.
    A tip I read once was to use the slow cooker for it. Basically, you roast your chicken for dinner, and then afterwards, pick it clean and put the bones etc. in the slow cooker, turn it on low over night and whenever you get around to it the next day, strain and freeze it. I usually keep some of the fat in but also skim some off to use for sauteeing veggies (yummy!).

    Just one question, though. What's "die-off"? I've never had any problems drinking/using the stock, so I'm not quite sure what you're talking about there.

    Reply

  8. Hi Kate,
    Just wanted to let you know that the pics are not showing. Don’t know if its me though, but thought I’d let you know. I love this site too…I refer to it often! Thanks so much for you dedication!
    Blessings,
    Tammy

    Reply

  9. I just made stock for the first time. I made it in the crockpot and it has turned out yummy!!!! woohoo.

    Reply

  10. I love using stock in almost everything. I add some to water when cooking rice or potatoes; it’s the base for gravies instead of water; add ice cube size to hot soup to cool it off without diluting the flavor.

    I post my method up a while back at http://prairie-living.blogspot.ca/2012/02/homemade-broth.html

    I kind of giggled reading you couldn’t believe you had missed sharing this. I’m the opposite. This is the only recipe I had on my site for a long time. haha

    I’ve seen chicken feet in the stores quite often and cringed because they just look so bad. Ugg. But I figured people must use the for stock and soup base. Is there anything special you do to clean them?
    I’m not sure my family would eat anything containing the stock if they saw feet floating in there. :)

    Reply

  11. After roasting the chicken for a meal, can you save and add the juices in the pan to the stock pot? I want to tell my Mom to pass on the bones to me the next time she roasts a chicken instead of her throwing them out…to have extra! If others pass their chicken bones on to me to use, can I put the bones in the freezer until I get the time to make some stock?
    Thank you!

    Reply

  12. I do use apple cider vinegar – from what I know, it helps draw the minerals from the bones!
    I love your tip about the chicken feet, I will ask the butcher about them!

    Reply

  13. Thanks so much for this! Just wondering if i don’t know of a farm to get the chickens from, should i just buy a free-range or organic one, like from a supermarket? Thanks :)

    Reply

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