Making your own chicken stock chicken stock offers a better return than an investment in the stock market. Well maybe not, but since the main ingredient, chicken bones, would normally go to waste it is practically free and compared to store bought chicken stocks it is a huge saving. The only real cost of making your own chicken stock is time.
Apart for the cost of an onion, some carrots and celery which probably amounts to a lot less than a dollar, everything else is practically free (excluding time and a minimal amount of energy). Also my stock yields about 8 pints, whereas a leading store bought brand costs about $4 per 7 pints.
As well as being extremely thrifty, by making your own chicken stock you know exactly what goes into it, unlike some store bought stocks. Notice the photo of a the ingredients of a leading store bought chicken stock hardly mentions chicken at all, and even then it is chicken fat and something called chicken powder. However, I’m not against using store bought stocks if I don’t have my own, but from a flavour perspective, home-made stock wins hands down every time. Another thing missing from some store bought chicken stock is collagen, which is a protein that makes up the majority of connective tissue in animals. Once dissolved in water to produce gelatin, this produces the unctuous body and mouth feel for the basis of most soups and sauces. In store bought stocks this is often replaced with guar gum.
One of the tricks to making home-made chicken stock is to start with cold water and heat it up gradually with the other ingredients rather than using boiling water. The aim is to get the collagen within the bones to dissolve out through tiny pores into the water. But if you plunge the bones into hot water first, the collagen proteins can coagulate and block the pores in the bones and trapping it within.
- 1 chicken carcass, including neck, wing tips and leg bones.
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut in quarters
- 2 sticks of celery, cut in quarters
- 2 bay leaves
- Bunch of fresh parsley
- 2 whole peeled cloves of garlic
- 8 black peppercorns
- 10 pints of cold water
Place all the ingredients into your largest stock pot, making sure that the water is cold. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down to low, so that it is just barely simmering. During the first hour you will have to skim any scum from the surface of the stock using a ladle or small strainer. The scum is just clumps of proteins suspended in bubbles of water, but by removing them you’ll end up with clearer stock. How long to cook you stock for is variable, but aim for about 4 to 6 hours. To check if it’s ready you should easily be able to break the bones without effort.
Drain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into suitable containers. Unless you plan to use the stock very soon it is best to freeze it as it will only last a couple of days in the refrigerator before turning sour. I pour some of the stock into plastic freezer bags, using a bowl as a temporary mould or use a muffin tray to freeze handy sized chunks of stock that I then transfer to a large freezer bag when frozen.
When using the refrigerated or frozen stock in a soup or sauce it is best to bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes first just to be sure that any bugs that might have crept in during the cooling are killed off.