Making your own chicken (or turkey) stock is an economical and healthy practice.
Because it is made from bones, stock contains natural gelatin, which is beneficial to the digestive system. It also contains numerous minerals, including calcium. Adding an acid, like vinegar, helps to draw the calcium out of the bones and into the stock.
Homemade stock is a great way to use up various vegetables and vegetable scraps from the garden that may be lurking in your refrigerator. Having stock on hand is a must for the fall/winter season, as it is an integral part of many holiday recipes.
You can buy chicken parts to make stock, but I recommend sticking to inexpensive parts, such as backs and necks. You can also use a leftover turkey carcass instead of fresh raw meat to make turkey stock, so don’t throw out the Thanksgiving turkey’s bones — make a healthy homemade stock instead!
As for the vegetables that go into chicken stock, you can either use whole fresh ones or leftover vegetable scraps.
If you want a darker, richer stock, roast your poultry, poultry bones and vegetables in a 450°F oven for about 40 minutes before adding them to your stock pot.
You may also find that you don’t want to use vegetables, as some people feel adding vegetables makes the stock too cloudy. Feel free to experiment with leaving the vegetables out if you want a lighter, clearer stock, or just add them in toward the end of cooking. A bunch of parsley added in at the end can add even more minerals to your finished stock.
The recipe below is for a basic chicken stock, but once you understand the method, using an exact recipe is not necessary. I often save up my picked-over chicken bones in the freezer and when I have three or four carcasses, I put it in my giant stock pot with my veggies (usually carrots, celery, onion or leeks, etc.). Add some apple cider vinegar, fill it almost to the top with water, and then heat everything up. After it comes to a boil, I reduce it to a simmer and cook it for 12-24 hours (skimming the unattractive stuff that rises to the top). I made stock recently and ended up with over 10 quarts! I love it because making it yourself is so much cheaper than buying it packaged, plus you’re getting wonderful nutrition out of bones that would otherwise end up in the trash.
If you wish to mix it up, you can also purchase beef or fish bones to make beef and seafood stocks.
Recipe for Basic Chicken Stock
Feel free to use an approximate amount of scraps instead of the whole vegetables listed.
- 4 or 5 pounds of chicken or turkey parts or meaty bones (use organic poultry parts, if possible)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks celery with leafy tops, chopped
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves, cut in half
- 1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- Water to cover (about 12 cups)
- Sea salt to taste
- Put all your ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam that rises to the top.
- Reduce heat to simmer and continue to periodically skim off the foam. Simmer for at least two hours or as long as overnight.
- When finished cooking, strain the broth and refrigerate for a few hours. Any fat in the broth will congeal at the top and can be easily strained off. Your stock is now ready for use or you can package it up and put it in the the freezer (I store mine in quart sized containers previously used for yogurt).
— Winnie Abramson writes the organic gardening and food blog Healthy Green Kitchen.
Photo Credit: Winnie Abramson