Monday Mission: How to Make your own Homemade Chicken Stock/Broth

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homemade healthy chicken stock with gelatin

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to make traditional homemade chicken stock.

Now that (hopefully) you’ve successfully planned at least one meal in advance, it’s time to try your hand at making chicken stock. It couldn’t be easier, really. If you’ve ever made any kind of recipe, you can do this. (By the way, if you’re not menu planning regularly, make it a goal to plan a meal or two a week and work up to regular planning.)  Stock/broth is one of the two fundamental KS recipes. It is super healthy, saves so much money, and keeps you in charge of the ingredients. I even submit that you can help the environment by making your own stock in your kitchen.

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Today’s is a long post, but that doesn’t mean it’s a difficult task. It just means I want to share a lot and convince you to try stock, and I want to give you as many time-and-energy-saving ideas as I can.

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My Broth Journey

I’ve always made my own broth, even in college. It was the only way I really knew how to cook a whole chicken, so about once or twice a year I’d grab one on sale and make chicken noodle soup. Then when I got married and had a child – that’s when most people realize how important nutrition is, among other things – I made broth because I could be totally in charge of what was in it.

I love that about cooking homemade! The broth was a way for me to avoid MSGs, be in control of how much or how little salt my family consumed (which translated into some pretty dull broths when I was afraid of too much sodium), and be able to scoop the fat out almost 100%, for a fraction of the cost of purchasing good quality stock.

The final stage in my own broth transformation came this winter as I read in Nourishing Traditions about all the incredible nutritional benefits of properly prepared stock:  the gelatin and its advantages, calcium, readily available minerals, immune-boosting properties. (You can read them all again in the last Food for Thought.)  I made it a point to include broth in our meals a few times a week.

I realized I could and should make stock from leftover bones, not just whole chickens. I begged the turkey carcass from my in-laws at Christmas and will probably do the same at Thanksgiving, unless other family members are reading my blog and get there first! I even stopped skimming the fat (gasp!). I know, I can’t believe it either. I used to be militant about throwing away every last glob of fat and skin I could see. Now I understand that it will keep our family healthy, so… We’ve eaten a lot of broth this winter.

And no one in our family has had so much as a cold since October. My son goes to school once a week and nursery once a week, and my daughter is putting EVERYthing in her mouth these days. I can’t say for sure it’s the broth, as we’ve made many changes in our eating habits since November, but I’m not going to stop now!

How I Make Broth/Stock Now

When I make broth, I really make a batch. This is the pot my fabulous in-laws got me for my birthday (or a less expensive, slightly smaller Stainless Steel Stock Pot):

Exhibit A: Daughter-in-Pot

Exhibit A: Daughter-in-Pot

Aaaaand actually cooking with it:

Exhibit B:  Chickens-in-Pot

Exhibit B: Chickens-in-Pot

I found myself in a chicken quandary before making this batch of broth – whole chickens were 79 cents a pound, but I knew that the chickens hadn’t eaten proper food or gotten proper exercise. Chickens that do cost 6-10 times more! Hmmmm…Looking at our food budget for the month, I went for it and said a prayer.

This day I used three whole chickens:  one I had roasted for dinner the night before and pulled much of the meat off for wraps and sandwiches, the second I snipped out much of the breasts for stir fry, and the third was untouched. I have so many ways to use broth and slightly fewer ways to use cooked, shredded chicken, so I realized that in order to keep making broth, I had to use the chicken in other ways! You can see all the places these chickens hit our table at this meal plan. (To address the comment at the Food for Thought this week, absolutely you can mix up cooked and uncooked chicken and bones. I threw in a pork bone with my chicken once, but don’t tell my husband! 😉  You can even, I understand, use bones from people’s plates at dinner, because the long cooking will annihilate any germs that might have been there. This would be a good time to read my disclaimer in the sidebar, by the way! :))

Click here for the easy, one page recipe for Nourishing Traditions style chicken stock. You can use a normal stock pot, probably of a size you have in your cupboard, and just one chicken or one package of split breasts or parts for this recipe. Continue reading for the anecdotal, tip-filled version and don’t skip the last section filled with updates and even more helpful ideas!

The Long Part of the Story

After the chickens sat in cold water with a few tablespoons of vinegar (to draw the minerals out of the bones), I tossed in cut carrots, celery, and onions. I throw away the very outer skin of the onions but leave the non-dirty stuff on. You won’t be eating this part, anyway! If the carrots are organic, I scrub them well and leave the peels right on, because most of the nutrients that I want in my stock are in or just under the peel. My celery is usually ready to go in 3-inch chunks in my freezer, leaves and all. I just read that I should actually add the vegetables just at the end of the cooking, so I’ve changed the recipe to note that. I’m also going to add some garlic cloves for their health benefits next time I make stock.


I’ve learned that it’s important to skim the gunk off the top of the pot after the stock comes to a boil. Many of the impurities end up in what you can skim, so remember:  if there’s something to skim off, always skim!

Then I turn the heat down to low, and approximately 24 hours later, I add a bunch of washed parsley (or dried, usually, because I always forget to add parsley to my list when chickens are on sale). Ten minutes later, I can call the stock “done”. I always try to make a soup with the broth right away. This way I can save on storage dishes, and sometimes a pot if I’m making broth in something smaller than my gargantuan pot!

This night I made white chicken chili, but I often just make chicken noodle with fresh stock. I scoop a few quarts over to a clean pot with my liquid measuring cup and slice fresh carrots and celery (organic if at all possible). While the vegetables are cooking I get all the chicken out of the big pot and pull out 2-4 cups of it to add to my soup. I usually estimate that the carrots and celery will need 15-20 minutes to cook, so depending on what kind of noodles I’m using, I add them at the appropriate time. Whole wheat “egg” style noodles are good, but I’m a sucker for kluski noodles. They are what my mom used throughout my childhood and seriously make good soup. Grandma’s homemade noodles would be even tastier, but I haven’t yet tried them on my own! Seasonings include a generous teaspoon of French thyme, often some marjoram, salt and pepper. That’s it! We can sit down to dinner while the chicken from the pot cools down enough for me to touch it without pain.

Sorting the Chicken and the Stock

I like to “pick the chicken” – pull the meat from the bones – that night if I have time. It’s a little easier to differentiate meat from bones when the chicken hasn’t been refrigerated yet. Half the time I do end up throwing all the chicken in a big bowl in the fridge and addressing it the following day. I just mash everything between my fingers, tossing the meat into my glass measuring cup and “everything else” onto a garbage plate or bowl. Sometimes the bones are so soft that I can’t feel them, but I do my very, very best. I freeze the meat in 2-cup portions, because it seems most of my recipes that call for cooked chicken require about that amount, and it’s also just right for a pot of soup for my small family.

Carolyn commented at the Food for Thought that she doesn’t cook chicken on the bone very often. I have to admit, my husband seriously dislikes boned chicken. If I were to put a split chicken breast on his plate, even if it was drenched in the most delicious barbecue sauce, he would still find the meal only “acceptable” because he hates picking through the bones. So I don’t serve chicken on the bone, either! I just use the cooked chicken in LOTS of recipes, from soups to casseroles to our favorite grilled wraps. If your family really dislikes dark meat, by the way, and you wouldn’t be able to hide it in a soup or casserole, you shouldn’t use whole chickens. Split chicken breasts make stock just fine, albeit probably with less gelatin.

added bonus

Added bonus:  split breast are incredibly quick to pick!

After dinner I pour the stock through my colander into my biggest glass bowl, then into the next size down, and so on until it’s ready to be cooled or stored right away, depending on my time available. A slotted spoon is helpful to grab the veggies and chicken (which is totally falling apart) out. If you want really clear broth, use a small screened strainer and ladle everything through that a second time.

timesaver Timesaver:  I love making stock in the winter, because I just set it all in my garage to chill, usually leaving about half in the pot itself.

This time I accidentally waited too long to address the broth. It partially froze in the garage! It was like ice fishing to dip it out:


You do need to throw away the vegetables. I’m tempted to put them into my soup every time, (you know how I hate to throw food away) but I’ve realized that there’s nothing nutritionally left in them anyway (and they’re REALLY mushy). Just think of them as empty containers that released all their nutrients into your broth and can be thrown away/composted without guilt. *Unless anyone knows something different?

$The Bottom Line$

Now for the best part! I have to show you how much broth I got from these chickens, which ran me about $12 with that sale I mentioned. I figure the broth cost about $2-3, MAX, if you add up the vegetables (even organic!) and the cost of my gas stove for 24 hours. Here’s my broth, ready for storage, MINUS about 12 cups that I already used in soup and stir fry:


That’s 60 (8 oz) cups of broth, folks. A can of Swanson broth is 14 ounces, which means I prepared approximately 34 cans of broth, with all the nutritional benefits of the vinegar soak to boot. !!! Swanson broth happened to be on sale 3/$2 that very week, which means I made $22 worth of broth for two bucks. Woo hoo! If I bought the cheapest broth I could find, which doesn’t pass my palate test anyway, at 50 cents a can I would still have made $17 worth of broth. (If you’re a “low-fat” person, you can easily get almost all the fat out after the broth cools, and your savings would be even more significant, because generally “fat free” versions are only found with name brands.)

All that savings took about 5 minutes to plunk chicken in water, 5 minutes to prep the veggies, a few minutes to skim the gunk, and let’s give it a whole hour to pick chicken, strain broth and store in the freezer. PLUS environmentally I avoided 34 cans being produced, shipped, and thrown away or recycled. That’s a good deal of raw material and energy, in my book. Those results are worth it to me!

How to Freeze Homemade Stock

You’ll notice I’m freezing the broth in all sorts of containers. Glass jars are best, in my opinion, especially if you’re working with warm or hot broth. Be generous with the headroom for expansion – it’s such a bummer to break jars in the freezer. I always give an inch or two. Standard spaghetti sauce jars are great because they’re free. They hold about 3 cups. Quart canning jars are good too, but you’ll cry harder if they break, because they cost about $1 each. (More on How to Freeze in Glass Jars)

When I run out of glass containers, I go for number 5 plastic, and only when I’m using cooled broth. I like the price and accessibility of the large openings on cottage cheese containers. Plastic freezer bags are another option. They are usually number 4 plastic.

added bonus

Added bonus: With plastic bags, if you forget to thaw your broth, you can cut away the bag and dump partially thawed broth into a pot.

One last way to freeze the broth is in ice cube trays (see post). Do make sure you make a list of how much broth you have frozen and what sizes so you know what to grab for any particular meal.

How to Use Homemade Chicken Stock

chicken rice soup with homemade chicken stock

Like I said, I tend to use the stock faster than the chicken. I make soup, of course, but I also use it to cook rice, either just for stir fry or for a side dish I call Designer Imposter Chicken Rice-a-Roni. It makes a great gravy for mashed potatoes and also ends up in some random recipes that call for chicken broth. When I make a huge batch like the one above, I include it in place of water in things like chili or burrito sauce.

added bonus
Added Bonus: If you just use the carcass, you’ll get 1-2 cups of extra meat from the bones that you can’t really get until it’s been cooked to pieces!

Some Recipes using Chicken Stock

Seeking Gelatin:  An Experiment

I’ve always had trouble getting my broth to gel. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I use caged, supermarket chickens or if I just have too much water. But I’m following a recipe from a pretty reliable source, Nourishing Traditions. So one day I ran into a whole organic chicken marked 40% off because it was going to expire the next day. I was buying store-brand chicken on sale anyway, so I decided to do a side-by-side test in 2 pots. I used equal amounts of water, cooking time, etc.

I expected that the organic chicken would gel up much better than the store brand bird. What I found was that the two pots of stock were remarkably similar in consistency. I might give the organic stock slightly more gel. In this photo, the organic is on the left and store brand on the right:


I am surprised at the difference in color, aren’t you? I’m not really sure what my experiment proved. I’d like to think that the organic chicken SHOULD have had lots more gelatin…so since it didn’t, maybe that just tells me my broth is watered down and would gel fine if I let it boil off a bit. Since the taste is excellent, I’m fine with watery broth as long as the gelatin is in there somewhere.

The Updates

Adventures in making healthy homemade chicken stock have been plentiful since this post. Here are a few more tips and ideas to help you successfully (and easily) nourish your family with homemade chicken stock:

Let me know in the comments if you try this stock and love it/hate it/can’t figure it out! Any other suggestions for time-savers or delicious seasonings would make great conversation, too.
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190 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Andrea says

    I’ve made this broth recipe once so far with the whole chicken. Great broth, rubbery chicken. This time, I’ve roasted a chicken and want to try again, but I have a question about what to do with the fat/gelatin that has congealed in the bottom of the roasting pan. Do I add that to the broth while it’s cooking, add it at the end, throw it away, use it for something else entirely? Thanks for your blog, I have learned so much from you!

    • Katie says

      I waffle on that one – but def. don’t throw it away!! It’s great gelatin. I usually try to add it in evenly at the end of cooking, since it’s possible that all that heat could break down the gelatin. But if I think I’m going to forget, I toss it in the pot iwth the bones. (Take the roasted chicken off the bones, by the way – you’ll be much happier with the not-so-rubbery chicken). Good luck! :) Katie

  2. Brady says

    My broth came out really dark….I had 2 whole (small) picked chickens. Is this just because I used less water and it is more condensed?

    • Katie says

      Probably. Once it cools, if it’s really thick, then yes, I’d say it’s probably just condensed. Nothing wrong with dark! :) Katie

  3. Ruby says

    I “roast” chicken in the crock pot all the time! It’s more like stewed whole chicken but it tastes great and yes the juice I get from it gets used as stock or broth. But, I haven’t actually made broth for the purpose of making broth! So, next time I make crock pot chicken, I’ll take the meat, keep in the bones, add some aromatics like carrots, parsnips, onions, celery and garlic; dill and parsley if I have it with some Bragg Cider and let it go for 2-3 10-hour cycles. Now I’m excited!

  4. Rachel says

    I have been making chicken stock from bones since I first read this post a few months ago. I enjoy having the stock on hand in the freezer, and how easy the process is, but my family doesn’t enjoy the smell. I haven’t seen this addressed in the comments so far, so I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong. After the bones simmer all night on the stove, the odor in the house is so strong that some of my family members feel nauseous and have started asking me to stop making the stock! Any ideas?

    • Katie says

      I hear you – mostly I notice it when we’re coming home from somewhere or waking up in the a.m. Can you make cinnamon applesauce at the same time? I don’t know that there’s any way to eliminate the cooking smell without covering it up with something else. Spraying vinegar in the air is supposed to help eradicate odors, but I’ve never tried it for this one. Using a slow cooker might also cut down on how much of the scent of chicken cooking is wafting through the air, too. A slow cooker outside is something many people do.
      Good luck! :) Katie

  5. says

    I didn’t take time to read through all the comments but I’m not really all the comfortable with leaving my gas stove on over night can I cook the bones in a crock pot? Also can I reuse the bones for another batch? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Katie says

      I hope I’m in time to help – YES to both questions! Some sources say 3 batches, some say SEVEN. Take your pick. The crockpot is my new method of choice, actually. :) Katie

  6. Jill says

    I’m making stock for the 1st time! I’m using bones and organs from 2 organic chickens. I soaked for 1 hour before boiling with cold water and vinegar. I let it boil for a little bit before reducing to simmer. Its been cooking for almost 4 hours, but I don’t have a film on the top. It looks/smells really good. But is this normal? Thanks!

  7. Jill says

    I made my stock today and it was 2 small chicken carcasses and bones. Well, its really dark. I’m not sure if I didn’t use enough water or what. I’m assuming its just condensed. Could I just freeze it as is and add water when I use it? Also, I put it in the refrigerator to cool and I can see the fat layer on top while its still hot, is that okay? Sorry, i’ve never done anything like this before. We are in the process of switching to ‘real food’! :)

    • Katie says

      No worries! You’re doing great! If it really gels up like Jello in the fridge, it’s probably condensed, but if not, it’s just dark (great taste/nutrition!), so you might not want to add water. Taste it and see if it can handle thinning out before adding water. Keep the fat if you’ve got a well-raised chicken from a local farmer, consider ditching it if you just had storebought birds. But visually seeing it is totally normal.

      Good luck on your transition – homemade stock is a GREAT early step! :) Katie

  8. says

    I hope you will catch this in the midst of all the comments!! I have been mostly using your info (and a little bit of Passionate Homemakings) to make my broth for the past 2 or 3 months. I have two questions: I have never skimmed before, primarily because I think that I either never caught that I had yucky stuff because I often use the crockpot, but have found some sediment-like stuff at the bottom of my jars later- is that the funky stuff? hasn’t affected the flavor, if it is, but should I not be using it? 2) Last night I used the stovetop and boiled and I had some white foamy bubbles on top…is that the funky stuff? How do I skim it? I didn’t skim this time either though, so it everything ruined, or should just reboil? (PS, I also get organic, pastured chickens from a local farmer…could that be why I have not noticed any brown yuck??). This might have been more than 2 questions…sorry!!

    • Katie says

      Definitely might be because you have well-raised chickens- apparently they give less foamy junk. But if you do catch it (you’re right, if it really gets boiling sometimes it’s all worked in), just use a wide spoon and scoop it off and toss in the sink. The broth is NOT bad if you don’t skim though! The sediment at the bottom is always there in mine, too – I often skip pouring that part out into the pot when I use the stock, but if it gets in there, you’re right – no flavor problems, so oh well! Hope that helps! :) Katie

  9. says

    This is the significant problem because if it’s way too small for your needs it isn’t worthwhile of course, if it is too large and then that turns into the main home freezer. You can find various sizes …

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I’ve never made the kluski noodles with any flour, to tell the truth. I buy them. Someday, I’ll get to making homemade pasta…

      But has an awesome looking pasta recipe. :) Katie

  10. Alli Hyer says

    Hey Katie,
    Do you have an actual recipe for stock? I realize that it’s evolving, and I can see that from the post, but all the “updates,” some of which contradict the instructions, are leaving me a bit bewildered.
    Thanks for your great work,

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Just do this:
      1. Put chicken with bones (or just bones), raw or cooked, in a pot.
      2. Cover with cold water and a splash of vinegar.
      3. Let sit for 30-60 minutes.
      4. Bring to a boil; skim off top scum.
      5. Turn to low for 4-24 hours.
      6. About 1-3 hours before the end, add a few carrots, celery, and onions, maybe garlic, in large chunks. Bring to a low boil again and then turn to low.
      7. About 10 minutes before the end, add a bunch of fresh parsley (dried if in a pinch).
      8. Strain out the broth.
      9. Ta da! You can use the veggies right away in soup if you want or toss them. Freeze the broth or store up to 7 days in the fridge. You’ll want to add salt and seasonings either during that last hour or as you use the broth in soups.

      How’s that? It’s been so long since I looked at this post, but I do mention it a lot – do you remember what contradicted? I don’t want to be that confusing, so sorry!
      :) Katie

  11. kirby says

    Feed those leftover veggies to the chickens. Even if they don’t have much nutrition, the girls will love you for it, especially still warm on a cold winter day 😉

  12. Kristin Evans says

    Quick question – I accidentally left my cooling chicken stock out all night! We are in SA, so we don’t have heat and it’s winter, so it was probably around 55F in our kitchen. Do you think it’s ok? I quickly put it in the fridge this morning and am still trying to decide what to do with it. Makes me so sad to think of throwing it all away, but I don’t want to make my family sick either. Any thoughts?

      • Kristin Evans says

        Thanks! I decided just to throw it out. Decided it was not worth risking a stomach thing with my family of two under 3 and one baby on the way! :) I do love your chicken stock recipe and it’s a regular part of my life now to make my own. Thank you for your blog! It is making a difference in our family’s life, one baby step at a time!

  13. Mrs. W says

    I have uncooked chicken legs that are slightly smelly in the fridge- too smelly for us to feel safe to cook and eat. Since the broth has to boil for so long, I am wondering if you ever use slightly bad chicken and then throw the chicken out but use the broth?

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Mrs. W,
      Myself, I don’t think I would. Seems risky. ??? If you try it, throw out the chicken after a few hours and boil the bones heartily.
      :) Katie

  14. Kristie says

    I thought of something for your veggies that were left over :o) I would use them in my “garden salad” for next years “fertilizing” then if they do have any nutrients at all.. they would go into the soil… if not they are soft enough when they are tilled in, in the spring… they will be just icky enough to add to the oxidation process… :o)

  15. DP says

    Hi Katie. I realize this is an older post, but I was just reading this, and you mentioned that you do not skim the fat. I have been doing the same, but the texture of the broth is so oily with the fat in it, that it sort of ruins the mouthfeel. Do you just not mind the oiliness of the broth, or do you avoid that aspect of it in some way? Thank you.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I probably eat so distractedly that I don’t notice – If you don’t love it, skim half the fat and see what you think, and just use the fat to saute chicken for stir fry or something. :) Katie

  16. Michele says

    I have a question about using the drippings. I put the drippings in a jar in the fridge after cooking the whole chicken. I haven’t made the stock yet, but was wondering if I could use the drippings with water for making soup until I make the stock? It has solidified and has a thick white coat on the top. Do I throw the white part away and just use the gel?

    • says

      The white is fat, and you should pitch it if your chicken is not organic, and use what you enjoy (it changes the texture of the broth) if it is organic. The drippings have good gelatin and flavor, so yes, thinned with water = soup stock! Enjoy! :) Katie

  17. Nance says

    I make stock in the crockpot overnight with bones, but use lemon juice or citric acid to leach out the calcium. When I use the broth, I adjust the pH by putting in a pinch of baking soda until it no longer bubbles when stirred. No vinegary aftertaste or smell.

  18. Pam says

    Not sure if I am confused or clueless? How does one cook something for 24 hours? What do you do mid-cook when you leave the house or go to bed… stick it in the frig and reheat or just turn the stove off and leave it sit? I haven’t been able to make broth yet because all the recipes I find take too long to cook. I usually have about 1 day every couple of weeks when I have a 4-5 hour block of time for extra cooking/baking. Thanks!

    • says

      Neither, just more careful than me. Personally, I just leave it on. 24 hours. Many use a slow cooker or electric roaster, which is a great option. If you have 4 hours, that’s enough. The recipe is truly 4-24 hours, so you’d get “finished” stock, then could put the bones in the fridge overnight and start them again the next evening the second you get home from work. :) Katie

  19. Mishelle says

    I made this last night…I CAN NOT believe I’ve never tried this before. It is soooooooo good! and soooooo easy! My house still had an amazing aroma when I woke up this morning.

    I think I expected it to taste similar to chicken I’ve boiled in store bought stock. Boy was I wrong. Even though I buy organic, I really dont like the flavor. The chicken was so amazing. My favorite meal is a green chili chicken enchilada and having this chicken, frozen and ready to go…well, I cant wait to make it again.

    I know you dont can but finally feeling like I had a great recipe and will be saving huge on my stock purchases, I finally felt ready to try pressure canning, thanks to you.

  20. Karen says

    How long can you save frozen bones. I saved a turkey carcass from last Thanksgiving (2012) and other chicken bones I have added to the freezer since then. Are these bones still safe to use.

    I was saving them until I can figure out this broth making. Now that my husband is retired, I think I will turn all of this info over to him and let him figure it out.

  21. Melissa says

    Hi Katie!
    I made a batch of stock and stuck it in the fridge (still in pot) to pour into containers later. I sort of forgot about it (I think it’s been almost 2 weeks)… Any chance it’s still good? :( I’m guessing I should probably just dump it. Thanks for all your help and awesome recipes! I haven’t bought stock in over two years thanks to you!

  22. Kathy Hutton says

    I have to throw in my 2 cents, I know it has been along time and maybe no one will ever read it. but here goes:
    I roast a chicken twice a month (if I don’t have time I get one done from the store) We eat roast chicken with the veggies (whatever I have) on every other Sunday. After dinner I take off the meat that can be used for sandwiches. Then cover the chicken while still in the roaster with water. I then put it back in the oven and cook it slow all night about 200*. Next morning I take it out and strain off the stock. 1 Hinged jar goes in the frig and the rest in canning pint (large mouth) jars. When cooled into the freezer or I make soup. I have never had one break! When the chicken is cool enough to handle I pick it and make enchiladas or some other dish. If I leave the stock in the pan it always gels. So why? I don’t know. . I do the same with my turkeys about 4 times a year. I have never used vinegar but I will try it next week with our Thanksgiving turkey. Happy cooking all!

  23. Beth says

    I am thankful to learn about the vinegar benefit as well as the veggies at the end. If I’m following correctly, if the veggies are only added for flavor, and you actually keep them in your stock for soup, could you just not add them until you are making soup? I try to find the loopholes to make things easier. So I imagine not having to pick out the veggies from the carcass to save them is easier. Is there something I’m missing?

    • says

      I suppose if you’re making soup with these same veggies, maybe they would impart their flavor “after the fact” while you’re making the soup? One thing I notice is that after I add the veggies, the stock gets SO much darker and richer in color. I think the best advice for you is to taste test before and after adding veggies (be sure to add salt first to your taste!) and see what you think. I love cutting corners too, so let us know if this idea works! :) Katie

  24. says

    After much reading of your various stock posts and comments, I’m finally attempting my own pot tonight.

    I have a couple of questions.
    First, how do you skim the ‘skum’ without skimming all the good fat with it? I saw one person skimmed after 2 hours, and yours says ‘after it boils.’ When/how/what exactly should I skim off?

    Also, does it matter much how much water to bones there is?
    I have a 12qt pot almost all full of water, with a mostly picked clean carcass, one carcass that we got all the easy stuff off of, but still a lot of back meat was left on, etc. And then the bones and a bunch of leftover veggies/skin/fat/juices from the pan of a roasted one (they were all roasted actually).
    I just threw it all in and topped it off with the water, and hope I’m not going to have too much/not enough where any of the nutrients would be lost. (Is there such a thing as a nutrient saturation point where not-enough water wouldn’t be able to hold it all, so you’d be missing some?)

    And one more- How long is it safe to keep cooked bones/carcass in the fridge before making into a broth? I expected to get to broth making sooner, so never froze the last chicken, but it was a few days longer than I’d meant to hold it there.

    Thank you for ALL your generous and useful advice & help!

    • says

      Good for you Krystal!!

      Many folks probably do skim the fat, which is why you’ll read different directions. I just skim right after the boil – you’ll see the gunk. :) If you miss some, it’s no biggie.

      Water to bones will impact flavor and gelatin, but really, again, not a huge deal. Just make sure the chicken is covered. Sounds like a good amount for 2 whole carcasses. If you like your stock, you’re doing great! I don’t think you can have “not enough water,” don’t worry. If it seems super concentrated, you can add water to stretch it for frugality’s sake but nothing else.

      I’d keep the bones for a week…if it’s been longer than that, trust your nose. I think broth is probably safer than just eating leftovers because you’re boiling the heck out of it – BUT I’m just guessing to don’t take my word for it. As with any food, use your judgement.

      I hope you love the finished product! I just strained batch two on a chicken tonight – probably going for 3 tomorrow, bones are in the pot in the cold garage…

      :) Katie

      • says

        Thanks so much! I didn’t expect that I’d get such a quick reply; you’re awesome : )

        So now that it’s boiled, I saw a lot of the white floaty bits (skin/fat stuff?) in the top, but nothing particularly ‘scummy.’ The weird thing to me is that it’s like there were two layers of fats/oils at the top, one 1/2″ almost all clear liquid at the very top, then right under that was the golden, deeper layer of fat where all the floaty bits were at, beneath the top clear liquid.
        I started to skim out a lot of the stuff from that 2nd layer, but then left a lot of the skins because I wasn’t sure if that was some of the good stuff I wanted to get nutrients from overnight.

        Can you tell me what the two layers of fat/oil at the top are? Should I get rid of either, or is it all good stuff (I’m not wanting to take out good fats). At this point I’m just going to leave it on low over night and just strain everything through some cheesecloth and a colander tomorrow, because I wasn’t terribly sure what to get rid of and didn’t want to take out anything worth keeping.
        Does the collagen/gelatin reside in the fat layers, or just in the broth liquid beneath all that?

        Thanks again!

  25. says

    Does anyone know how long these canning jars full of bone stock will safely last in the fridge?
    I froze 3 and kept 3 in the refrigerator for making a soup I kept not getting around to…and now I’m nervous I waited too long.
    ‘Would be soo disappointing to waste all that work on losing 1/2 a batch!

    Thanks for any helpful tips here.

    • says

      For sure a week… and Kimi of the Nourishing Gourmet says that as long as you boil your stock every 5-7 days, you can “reset” it and still use it w/o problem. So hopefully it’s just been a week or so – if you’re not going to use it today, just boil and re-jar it. :) Katie

  26. Melissa says

    Hi Katie, Thank you!! I’ve learned so much from your posts on Chicken stock, but I haven’t found any comments on the skin??? After I roasted mine, on the underside, the non-crunchy skin my family ignored I tossed in the stock… 12 hrs into cooking it just looks icky, but I assume there is still valuable fat/nutrients drawn there? Or should I just toss it (in the trash) next time?? Opinions?!

    • says

      Good question! I have never read in particular about it but I can tell you what I do.

      The skin has a good bit of fat, so that’s probably why it looks icky as it’s “rendering” so to speak. I include it with well-raised chicken but would skip it entirely with a conventional chicken.

      As for the second batch, I don’t know that it makes a difference – you’re getting some flavor from the meat but not a ton of nutrients even from the first batch, and probably far less on the second. It’s all about the bones. :) So leave it, pitch it, likely no big deal either way for batch 2 or 3!

      :) Katie

  27. donna says

    We’re getting our son started on the GAPS diet and are hoping to get him to enjoy drinking broth. Any tips for how to boost the flavor easily (he lives in a dorm), like Asian flavors, or Mexican?

  28. Brenda says

    Katie: I made chicken stock the other day from chicken bones. It turned out really pale almost whiteish in color.It was thick but not “gel” more like a pudding thickness, like creamy. I tasted it and it didn’t have much taste. What do you suggest happened? Is it okay to use? Did too many impurities mix back in? It didn’t seem to have much “scum” rise to the top It seemed more yellow when I pored it into the jars before it cooled. I just put some in a soup and added the same amount of water. Should I keep it?

    • says

      Hi Brenda,
      Salt is primo important for flavor – a tsp. per 4 cups stock. So start there…and then it probably comes down to the veggies. Onion skins make it much more yellow, celery and garlic and parsley add tons of flavor. If you got even a little thickness more than “water” consistency, your bones are working! Hope that helps! :) Katie

  29. Roberta says

    When making my bone broth I added either lemon juice or vinegar (can’t remember which). Any way, I have been sick and it is still in the fridge. Is it still safe to use/freeze ? I just hate to throw it away!

    • says

      Follow your nose! I have learned that you can “reset” broth by boiling it up and re-refrigerating it, so I’ll do that after about a week if I haven’t used or frozen it yet (but not if it’s already pungent). If you have a layer of fat on top that prevents air from touching the actual broth, some say it will be preserved in the fridge for up to 6 mos. Hope that helps! :) Katie

  30. Elezibeth says

    After reading an email you sent out about 3 pots of stock/broth from each set of bones and your mother calling it greedy, I have come up with a solution. I make stock/broth twice from chicken bones, then the crushed up marrow/bone mixture, without salt, is what I mix into my dog’s food. I do not have to buy canned food anymore (my dog likes to go on hunger strike and hurl all over.. another story,) he is getting extra calcium, ‘fresh’ food, chews on the furniture less often, reduces the dog food/bone bill, and I truly think it helps manage the ‘what do I do with this now’ factor from the carcass. I don’t have to attempt to compost it or throw it in a landfill. The bones are soft enough that they don’t damage his insides. All in all, I would say that the function of the dog in the house as a companion and consumer of food that would otherwise be thrown away has proven to be a gift from God and not a burden.

  31. Katie says

    Missy – Hmmmm…the perfect simmer. That’s a good question! I have a “power burner” that is 1 1/2 times the size of a standard burner, and that one on low does just great for my huge pot. I have gotten “too low” when cooking dry beans before — after 8 hours, they were still “al dente” = yuck. (More on beans next week!) I don’t know how I’d even tell if chicken stock was “too low”…After boil I figure as long as the heat is still going, it will stay warm enough to be safe from bacteria and cook everything thoroughly. I would just try one step up from your lowest heat and check after half an hour (set a timer). If it’s hot/steamy but not bubbling, I’d say that’s perfect!

  32. Katie says

    That’s a great idea! I’ve frozen muffin batter that way, but nothing else. I can think of some other foods I’d like about a half cup at a time of, too….hmmmm…future blog post percolating…. :) Thanks for the tip!

  33. Katie says

    Great idea for saving milk and tomato sauce in cubes, too! I don’t really know the calorie count on the homemade chicken stock, so sorry. It has to depend so much on whether and how well you skim the fat. I’d rather not count the calories, to be honest, just make sure I’m giving my body healthy food, but I understand that numbers really help some folks. Thanks for visiting! Katie

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