Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

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

March 30th, 2009 · 187 Comments · Avoiding Waste, Do It Yourself, Frugality, KS lifestyle, Recipes, Science of Nutrition

homemade healthy chicken stock with gelatin

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

Impact Ratings: earthpositivehealthpositivemoneypositive

Level of Commitment: Making Strides

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 batchThis 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.


I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

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187 Comments so far ↓

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  • Brooke Wilson

    Hey Katie so I have been blessed to stumble across your blog as we prepare for baby number two and wanting to get some meals in the freezer and to make more meals with healthier food choices. So I’ve been reading like crazy and have a question which is probably going to be laughable to all that read this but here goes; Is Chicken stock and chicken broth the same thing and made the same way? Your Cream of X Soup called for Condensed Chicken Stock and I wasn’t sure if I could use the homemade chicken stock that you wrote about above. Is that considered condensed? I’m new to all this homemade stuff but I’m so excited to get started and get our family on the right path to healthier eating. Thanks so much for your help! Brooke :) <

    Katie Reply:

    Stock and broth are kind of used interchangeably on the blog; technically stock includes the bones and broth does not, so all my chicken stock is stock. You can just use the homemade for the Cream of X Soup, but you’ll get even greater flavor if you just condense it by boiling some of the water off once it’s all finished. It gets darker in color and just magnifies the flavor, which is nice in the cream of soups. But not necessary! Definitely use homemade no matter what. :) You’re doing great! :) Katie

  • Brooke

    Thanks Katie for your quick reply. I just had three questions that popped into my head. I started the stock today and was wondering after it is put in fridge for the fat to congeal if you aren’t throwing the fat away do you mix it with the broth before putting it into a jar. I ask b/c what if you use only half the jar for the recipe your making and when you pour it out you get the top layer only which is the fat and not what’s underneath it. Does that make sense? Also I don’t have a lot of glass dishes yet what are your thoughts on freezing the meals in aluminum pans covered in aluminum foil? Does that last long? For the three dishes in one day that you made I wouldn’t actually cook those first if I was freezing them for later. I would just put them together and then freeze them to be cooked for a later time, correct? Thanks Katie! :) <

    Katie Reply:

    The fat will still rise to the top again, so you just mix after thawing. Freezing in aluminum is okay, but aluminum isn’t great for you. I have seen people line their glass dish with aluminum foil, freeze that, then pop the foil out with a block of casserole – then you can freeze the casserole in plastic bag and use your glass dish to bake!

    On the 3 casseroles I made, I would probably cook the ones with potatoes, just because raw potatoes don’t freeze great. Then thaw and reheat. Enjoy! :) Katie

    ~M Reply:

    Try mason jars, which are glass and relatively inexpensive. They also are great use of vertical freezer space. :)

  • The Estrogen Files

    Is it possible to can this stock? I’ve always made small amounts of stock for myself, but if I made big amounts and was able to can it…


    Katie Reply:

    Yes! I don’t have a pressure canner, which you’d need (find some reputable directions to follow), but I know many people who can stock. Enjoy! :) Katie

  • jeanne

    I’ve made my own stock for years. No preservatives or MSG in this family’s food! Here’s a tip I’ve learned for getting more gelatin into the broth: cut the bones before simmering the carcass. This opens the marrow and allows more of that good stuff to be released into the stock. Also, this improves the flavor. The cutting takes some work, so unless you are really strong and have good utility scissors or a very sharp clever, ask the butcher to do it for you.

  • Anonymous

    In order to get the stock to gel, first try cutting the bones in to 3-4 inch pieces. This will expose more surface are so more collagen (connective tissue) will break down. Also, younger birds have more connective tissue and to maximize the gelatinous effect, don’t pre-cook your chicken or the bones will start to break down. You could also try adding raw parts such as knuckle bones, necks, feet, legs or wings; parts with lots of joints will have more connective tissue, thus more collagen.

  • Candy

    Chicken feet…that’s the key for a broth that jells.

    On my stove top I usually have pot of cold filtered water with some seaweed. It can set for 24 hours without a problem. Cold water leeches different nutrients than when you put the heat on. I use this as the basis for all soups, for cooking beans, etc. An easy way to get extra nutrients.

  • Tim

    I’ve been making my own stock for years but it never occurred to me to do a vinegar pre-soak. My wife can use all the calcium she an get. I’ll definitely try that next time.

    Because I like to be able to have more control over the flavor in the final dishes, I make my stock with just the chicken (no veggies). This way I just add lots of veggies to a creamy veggie soup but I don’t have to have that extra homogeneous floral bouquet smudging up my starkly meaty tarragon gravy. I also rarely use raw parts for the stock simply because I have so many excellent and tasty uses for roasted chicken and so few uses for meely mush. On the occasions that I cut up the bird raw to use in specific recipes, I throw the carcass in the oven to roast along with another bird (or whenever I next have the oven going) simply because I prefer the roasty flavor in the stock. That said the only extra-chicken flavor I never regret adding to my stock is the honey I rub into the breast (under the skin) before roasting. I’ll even add a little honey to a carcass if I’m not using another whole roasted bird (with honey) in the batch.

    To strain I use a heavy cotton waist apron (from a restaurant supply) and a second (gargantuan) pot. I line the inside of the second stock pot with the apron and use the waist ties to tie it off under the lip (so that the entire edge of the fabric is hanging outside the ties). Since I’ve already removed all the edible meat by the time I make the stock, I don’t have any sorting to do. I dump the entire contents of my first stock pot into the lined second stock pot, carefully gather the edges and untie the apron, lift up, squeeze out from the top down till it wont drip on the trek to the trash, open the apron over the trash. Done. Straining takes 5 min. including prep (provided my other gargantuan stock pot is clean). To clean the apron I use the first stock pot to give it a good stovetop bath over medium-high heat with lots of soap and stirring, rinse thoroughly, repeat, and toss it in the laundry. I’ve tried other more lazy methods involving long unattended soaking but I have a pair of jeans and a few towels that still smell like chicken fat. The clean-up is a bit worky (10 min. of cooking and manhandling an initially disgusting apron) but the resulting stock is absolutely beautiful –it looks like liquid gemstones –and my first stock pot is clean and ready for the next part of my stock routine (see below).

    As to gelatin, it does come from the marrow of the bones not the fat (making true stock very not kosher) and if cooked adequately WILL be in the stock whether or not the stock gels. I can’t think of any reason why organic chicken would have different amounts of gelatin than “inorganic” chickens, not even happy vs sad chickens should make a difference there (flavor and nutritional differences not withstanding.) However, over heating gelatin (easy to do) causes it to curl up (molecularly) and you don’t get the happy gelatinous goo that we all love. Reading this post has inspired me to do a slow batch again. I started using the pressure canner (very high heat) to make the stock one summer because the prospect of having my burner going for an hour instead of 24-48 hours is super sexy when you live in a small bungalow sans AC. The convenience of freeing up the range coupled with the fact that the nifty gel thing is only a bragging right since the gelatin invariably gets over-heated in the subsequent recipes anyway means that I’ve kept it up even during winter when the extra heat and humidity would be otherwise welcome. (I’ve modified my technique to “simmer” at high-ish pressure with just enough heat to keep it pressurized above the ambient atmospheric pressure overnight. This seems to get everything I want out of the birds (they’re quite inedible and fallen apart) while still shortening the time its taking up space on the range. The gel is, however, very comforting and soul-satisfying when your sicker than a dog and can’t keep anything nutritious down besides plain stock. (Disclaimer: your true soul will not actually be nourished or satisfied by stock, gelatinous or otherwise. Only, your mouth and the part of your brain that wearies quickly of consuming only liquids will be satiated.) I could be dead wrong but I’m pretty certain the gelatin in stock is just as good for you (nutritionally not emotionally) whether “over cooked” or not. However, the low and slow method is the ONLY way to get all of the gelatin out intact and I’m elated to find another person with a true low and slow stock recipe (most call for simmering only a couple hours or just plain boiling it to death).

    Also, since I have a pressure canner, I use it to put up the stock too. (This is why I don’t mind cleaning my straining apron in this pot.) I usually go through the chicken stock pretty quickly so freezing (and keeping it frozen) isn’t a big energy sink. But for ham, turkey, or beef stock that I make seasonally or infrequently and eek out over the following year it is WAY more energy efficient to spend an hour putting my range though its paces and then letting the canned stock sit at room temp for months till I use it. I still can the chicken stock too because I have a small inconvenient freezer and a large convenient pantry with custom-built shelves for home-canned foods.

    Incidentally, a pint mason jar filled to one inch below the rim (appropriate level for canning stock) yields exactly 14 oz. Swansons didn’t invent the size of their cans to cheat us 2 oz out of a pint but to make their product conveniently interchangeable with real home-canned stock. (c: This also makes my price comparison pretty easy. I currently have 20 14 oz. jars of eat-your-heart-out-Swansons chicken stock cooling on the counter from the carcasses of two honey roasted chickens (at $.99/lb), not to mention the moist and sweet roasted breasts, the juicy fall-off-the-bone (in a good way) thighs and legs, plus all the other bits and pieces that have all already gone into vast quantities of soup and pasta dishes.

    Katie Reply:

    You are a master! The apron trick is genius. Someday I’ll have a pressure canner, if only for saving stock and canning some meats for emergency purposes.
    Thanks for the great tips! :) Katie

  • Andrea

    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 Reply:

    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

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  • Brady

    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 Reply:

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

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  • Ruby

    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!

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  • Rachel

    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 Reply:

    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

  • Tonya

    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 Reply:

    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

  • Jill

    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!

  • Jill

    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 Reply:

    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

  • Amy

    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 Reply:

    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

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    Have you tried making your kluski noodles with a gluten-free flour?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    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

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  • Alli Hyer

    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 Reply:

    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

  • kirby

    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 ;-)

  • Kristin Evans

    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?

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I don’t know that I have much of an answer for you, but I’m sure I’m too late anyway. I hear you on the dilemma…if it ever happens again, at the very least boil the heck out of it before serving! :( Katie

    Kristin Evans Reply:

    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!

  • Mrs. W

    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 Reply:

    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

  • Kristie

    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)

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  • DP

    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 Reply:

    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

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  • Michele

    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?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    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

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  • Nance

    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.

  • Pam

    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!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    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

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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