Homemade Chicken Stock


As you can tell from the above photo, chicken feet made an appearance in this particular batch of chicken stock! They are definitely an optional ingredient, but if you do have them available to you, then please don’t skip out on them! Tossing chicken feet into stock is a great way to ensure that it will gel! Your great-grandma knew this and had no issue using all parts of the bird, so you shouldn’t neither!

Making homemade chicken stock is just as easy as beef stock. The basics of the how-to are essentially the same with just a few minor differences. As with homemade beef stock, homemade chicken stock is also going to be much healthier than the organic canned or boxed options at the grocery store.

Despite the convenience of cooking with already cut up chicken, it’s best to buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself. Not only will you save money by doing the labor yourself but you will also have the back bone of the chicken for a future batch of chicken stock (as seen in the video below).

Here is a Youtube video that helped me learn how to cut up a whole chicken. The key is to have a sharp knife that will easily cut through the stretchy skin. Don’t worry if on your first attempt you end up with a sloppily mutilated bird, like I did. You will get better at it with practice. I wouldn’t follow the presenter’s method for chicken stock though as it won’t provide enough bone or a long enough simmer for a nutrient rich stock. Her method will yield a flavorful batch, but we are going for more than just flavor.

As you eat chicken, save the bones and carcass in a  freezer bag. The batch of stock that I made in this blog post consisted of 3 chicken backs that I saved and froze from cutting whole chickens. The breasts, wings and legs of those chickens were used to make meals. Once the meat of those meals were eaten, I tossed the leftover bones in the freezer bag. You can get your stock going with just 1 or 2 chicken carcasses instead of 3 like me, just make sure to have a good amount of bones.



As with any Real Food recipe, the quality of the ingredients is key in order to get optimal health benefits. Pasture raised chickens are best, but if all you can find is organic then that is ok. For the vegetables and herbs, organic is best. I like using unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, but any vinegar will be ok.

Most of the time I keep it really simple by just using the basic ingredients listed. You can spice it up a bit more by incorporating some or all of the optional ingredients listed if you’d prefer.

Basic Ingredients:

  • Chicken bones
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Filtered Water

Optional Ingredients:

  • Chicken Backs
  • Chicken Feet
  • Bay Leaves
  • Peppercorns
  • Whole Garlic Cloves
  • Parsley
  • Thyme

Instructions:

1. Place bones (along with chicken backs and feet, if using) in crock pot with vegetables and 2 tablespoons vinegar.

2. Add enough filtered water to just cover the bones. Let sit for 1 hour to allow vinegar to draw out minerals from bones.

3. Turn the crock pot on low and allow to simmer for 12-48 hours. The longer you allow it to simmer, the more minerals, gelatin and nutrients will be drawn out. Don’t simmer for more than 48 hours though or else the stock will have a burnt taste (I usually simmer for 24-48 to ensure I drew out a good amount of nutrients).  If the water level gets too low as it simmers then just add more water to cover the bones. Making sure the water level doesn’t get too low will also prevent a burnt taste.

4. About 2 hours before you are done simmering, add in any herbs like parsley or thyme if that is what you’d like to do. I typically don’t add any herbs.

5. After stock is finished simmering, strain the bones and vegetables through a strainer into a large bowl.

 

I like to let the stock cool a bit in the bowl. You will notice that the fat rises to the top. You can spoon off the fat at this point.

Once the stock is cooled off a bit, I like to divide it up between quart size mason jars.  I usually keep 1 jar in the fridge to either make a soup that week or enjoy the stock in a mug like tea. I freeze the rest for later use.  If freezing, make sure to leave at least 1 inch empty space between the stock and the lid because the liquid will expand as it freezes. If you don’t leave a good amount of space then the jar may break.

If you simmered the bones enough then you should notice your stock taking on a gel consistency when refrigerated. This lets you know that you drew out gelatin from the bones which will help aid digestion, among other health benefits. If you did simmer your stock for a good length of time and it still didn’t gel, then more than likely you just added too much water and the gelatin is a bit watered down. Rest assured that some gelatin is still in your stock, definitely more than if it was store bought! Remember that tossing in some chicken feet is a great way to increase the gelling of your stock.

This recipe was shared on Pennywise Platter, Real Food Wednesday, Sunday Social Blog Hop, and Homesteaders Hop.

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