Why make homemade chicken stock? Three reasons: flavor, nutrition and economy.
These days many (most?) processed and restaurant foods are flavored with MSG. MSG is a neurotoxin. Traditionally, food was always flavored with stock — beef stock, fish stock or poultry stock. By adding stock to your meals, you will naturally enhance the flavor without the toxic additives.
Nutritionally, there are so many reasons to use bone broths in your cooking. This is why they call it Jewish penicillin!
Here are just a few:
“Good thick chicken stock is full of cartilage-building proteins and amino acids we all need.” Source
“Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.” Source
“The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese.” Source
For those with digestive ails and food allergies and intolerances, bone broth is the very best thing you can to do help heal your gut.
Read this excellent article by Kaayla Daniel expounding on the numerous health benefits of bone broth.
Oh, sure you could buy chicken stock from the store. And there are a few brands that are OK. But most of the chicken stock you find in the store is made from battery chickens (over 90% of the chickens sold in the US come from factory farms). I don't know about you but I prefer my chicken broth without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, and genetically modified organisms. I'm just sayin'…
But another reason to make your own is it saves money! It is a heck of a lot cheaper to buy whole chickens or ducks, roast them for dinner, eat the leftover meat in sandwiches or curries or soups, and then use the bones for stock. Why buy premade stock and chicken breasts when you can buy the whole bird, cheaper?
Think you don't have time? You do! It takes a minute to throw leftover bones into a Ziploc and store in the freezer. It takes ten minutes to chop up some carrots and celery and get a pot of stock going. And it takes ten minutes more to strain it. Maybe five minutes more to pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it.
Do this every week and you've spent less than 30 minutes on making stock — which will boost the nutrition and flavor of countless meals. And you've massively stretched your family's food budget. I use it for cooking all my beans, rice, risotto, soups and stews and chili, and making sauces.
If you work outside the home and/or are away a lot, invest in a good crock pot. You can leave it simmering on the counter for days without worrying about starting the house on fire. The Hamilton Beach crock pot is recommended (many other brands have lead).
You can't afford not to make the time to cook homemade stock.
This recipe is adapted slightly from Sally Fallon's recipe in her cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.
2 to 3 pounds of chicken parts & bones (necks and leftover bones — you can also use bones from ducks, turkeys, geese, or Cornish game hens)
Gizzards (if you have some — optional) — where to buy
2-4 chicken feet (optional, but preferable if you can find them — they add a lot of gelatin)
4 quarts filtered water (please do not use tap water — it's full of chemicals) — where to buy filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar (white or Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 large yellow or white onion, quartered
2 carrots, cut into large pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
1 bunch parsley (optional — I always forget to add this)
Note: It is best to use farm-raised, pastured birds. This means not just “cage-free” (not in a cage but still inside) but birds that have freedom to roam OUTDOORS, and get vitamin D from sunlight and protein from the bugs they eat. Also, if you can find a farmer who does not feed soy to his or her chickens, that is ideal. If they do feed soy, make sure it is organic (you do not want to eat chickens that have eaten genetically modified soy).
Stock pot (enamel or stainless steel — not aluminum) — where to buy stock pot
1 2-gallon glass jar (I use the ones I make kombucha in) — where to buy glass jar
1 mesh strainer
1. Place chicken (or duck, goose, turkey, or Cornish game hen) parts and bones into stock pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.
2 Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top (I find that there is almost no scum when I am using pastured birds).
4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the more flavor and nutrition it will have. I cook my chicken stock for 12-24 hours. (It depends on the size of the bones. I do my beef stock for 36-48 hours. Fish stock can be simmered for only 4-12 hours.)
5. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley for extra minerals (I try to remember to do this but I don't always get around to it. It's a good idea to grow a patch of parsley in your garden or in a pot on the patio or window sill.).
6. Remove bones and vegetables with a slotted spoon. Discard. (Some people grind them up and use them in pet food.)
7. Strain the stock into the 2-gallon glass jar and let cool to touch on the counter. You can also use large glass bowls but I have found that they take up far too much valuable space in the fridge. If you want a clear stock (with no bits & pieces), use some cheesecloth in your strainer. I usually cannot be bothered with this.
8. Store in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, until the fat rises to the top and congeals.
9. Skim off the fat with a spoon and store it in your fridge or freezer to use in cooking (nothing wasted!). Pour the stock into ice cube trays and freeze.
10. Pop the cubes out of the trays and store in Ziploc bags or Tupperware in your freezer.
Now you have 1-ounce cubes of stock, pre-measured and ready for any recipe!
For more tips on making stock, head over to Kelly the Kitchen Kop. She just posted not one but two blog posts about making bone broth:
Where to Find Broth Online
Don't have time to make your own stock?
Click here to find sources of long-simmered broth in the Village Green Marketplace.