Homemade Chicken Stock

I make chicken stock at least once a week, and have been doing so for several years now. I got into this habit when I did GAPS back in 2009 and was eating tons of soups. Then because I remained gluten free after GAPS, I continued to make lots of soup because its one of the tastiest, easiest lunch options for me. Even when I was working in an office I would take my thermos of soup to work every day, but now being at home, its even easier to heat up a lovely bowl of soup for lunch.

Mostly I make a Chicken and Vegetable soup, loaded with all different kinds of vegetables. My favorite way to eat it is with a small amount of cooked white rice mixed with a knob of butter. Good protein, good carbs, good fats, easy to digest…the perfect meal!

Why is homemade stock so good for you? Here are links to a couple articles written by Sally Fallon:
Broth is Beautiful
Beautiful Broth

Chicken Stock

This is what I put in my chicken stock. The only compulsory ingredients are the chicken carcass/bones, water and a splash of vinegar. I have a few special ingredients that I always use when I make my stocks which I feel help to make it more nutritious and tasty, but you can leave them out if you don’t have them.

1 chicken carcass (pastured is best)
OR 1 chicken back and neck and 2 chicken thighs with bone and skin (see tip 1)
Additional bones (see tip 2)
3-4 chicken feet (see tip 3)
1 strip kelp/kombu (see tip 4)
1 piece of ginger (see tip 5)
Splash of vinegar (see tip 6)
Selection of vegetables (see tip 7)
Filtered water (about a gallon)

Tip 1: If I don’t have a chicken carcass to make stock from, I always use bones AND meaty chicken parts (such as thighs, chicken backs etc). The bones provide most of the minerals (such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus), while the meaty parts give the stock its tasty “chicken” flavor.

Tip 2: I always save bones left over from other meals. For example, if we have chicken drumsticks, lamb chops, lamb shanks etc I will throw all of the bones into a bag in the freezer. Every time I make stock, I’ll add a handful of bones into the stock for additional minerals.

Tip 3: Chicken feet are GREAT in stock! They really help with the gelling of the stock. I remember I was a bit grossed out when I first started buying them, but I’m so used to them now they don’t bother me anymore. I get organic chicken feet either from Whole Foods or if you’re local to Sonoma County, then Backyard CSA is a great resource.

Tip 4: I always add a strip of kombu for the extra highly beneficial minerals that it provides (particularly iodine, which is helpful for the thyroid). By a strip, I mean a piece that is an inch or 2 wide and 5-6 inches long.

Tip 5: I did accupunture a few years ago and my acupuncturist had me making chicken stock with a variety of herbs and ginger. Ginger is great for digestion, so I continue to add it. I cut off a piece about an inch long, and slice a few cuts in it to allow more of the ginger to leach out. But don’t worry, it doesn’t make the stock taste like ginger!

Tip 6: Any kind of vinegar will do. I estimate that I use 2-3 tablespoons. The vinegar helps to leach the minerals out of the bones.

Tip 7: I save vegetable ends in a bag in the fridge (leafy celery parts, ends of onions, ends of carrots, broccoli stalks etc). I add these to the stock each time I make it for additional minerals and flavor.

Everything in the slow cooker, ready to go!

I have two methods for making chicken stock:

Method 1: Making stock in a pot on the stove

1) Start first thing in the morning by placing all stock ingredients in a large stock pot (at least 8qt). Add enough cold filtered water to cover by a couple inches (about a gallon).
2) Let it stand for 30-60 minutes (to give the vinegar time to start breaking down the bones)
3) Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
4) Turn back to a gentle simmer, cover (leaving a crack) and let it simmer all day (6-8 hours), stirring occasionally.
5) If you’re using meaty chicken pieces (thighs, backs etc), remove them from the stock pot and take the meat from the bones. I save the meat for soup.
6) Using tongs, remove any other bones from the pot, then strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be careful if the stock is still hot! At this point you may want to transfer the stock into storage containers for fridge/freezer, but I prefer to let the stock cool off and then I put the whole bowl in the fridge. I throw away the bones and vegetable scraps.

Method 2: Making stock in a crockpot

1) Place all stock ingredients in your slow cooker (needs to be at least 6 qt). Note: important to use a lead-free slow cooker, otherwise you might get lead leaching into your stock. The Hamilton Beach slow cookers (at least the one I have) are lead free.
2) Add enough cold filtered water, leaving an inch or so of space from the top of the bowl.
3) I set it for anywhere between 8-10 hours on low (keeping in mind what time it will finish – for example if I start it late in the day, I don’t want it to finish in the middle of the night!)
4) Once the first 8-10 hours is up, I will generally set it for another 8-10 hours. Chicken stock can be simmered for up to 24 hours. The longer the better in terms of breaking down the bones and getting more minerals leaching out. If I’m using meaty chicken pieces however, I’ll take them out after the first 8-10 hours to remove the meat, otherwise the meat will become overcooked. I throw the bones back in after I’ve removed the meat.
5) Using tongs, remove all bones from the pot, then strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be careful if the stock is still hot! At this point you may want to transfer the stock into storage containers for fridge/freezer, but I prefer to let the stock cool off and then I put the whole bowl in the fridge. I throw away the bones and vegetable scraps.

The messy part - straining the stock!

Your stock will take a while to gel – a good 24 hours in the fridge or more. My stocks never gel solid – they are always just gelly-like.

The crockpot has become my preferred method for making stock since I can start it at any time of the day and run it through the night (whereas I won’t leave an element burning on the stove all night!)

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night, Sunday School @ Butter Believer, Superfood Carnival @ Painfree Pregnancy, Homestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead, Make Your Own Mondays, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Whole Food Wednesday @ Beyond the Peel, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional Foods


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33 Comment

  1. shuhan says:

    what a great post!

    my mum adds ginger to her stock also because it helps to rid the stock of any animal “stench”. the chinese way of making stock is slightly different because we will blanch the bones first, to get rid of any impurities and to give a cleaner, fresher tasting stock! not sure about any nutrient loss this way, but I’ve been doing it both ways and prefer the traditional way I learnt form my mum (:


    1. Debbie says:

      Thank you! That’s really interesting about the ginger, and blanching the bones – I didn’t know that. I also just read your stock post which was fascinating! Hope you’ll come and share it with Sunday Night Soup Night 🙂

    2. That is very interesting about the blanching. I may check that out.

      Thank you Debbie for a very informative post and for sharing it on Friday Food Flicks. 🙂

  2. I found you from the Barn Hop. I’m excited to try your chicken and vegetable soup, it looks tasty. Sometimes I wonder what else I could be doing with all my chicken stock that I forget about chicken soup. So funny, I just did a blog on chicken stock too. I never thought about putting ginger in it.


    1. Debbie says:

      Hi Kathleen, thanks for stopping by! Your chicken stock looks so lovely and rich, I just checked it out! Now go and make yourself some chicken and vegetable soup 🙂

  3. Miz Helen says:

    This is a great tutorial for Homemade Chicken Stock, this is a very good post! Hope you are having a great week end and thank you very much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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