It’s getting harder and harder to find a decent boxed, organic stock that doesn’t contain MSG or other MSG alias, such as yeast, yeast extract, natural flavoring/flavors. Within a couple of weeks of cutting out MSG and GMOs from my diet my almost daily headaches stopped. I’m not about to tempt fate and buy stock that contains MSG. Even the stocks/broths that say “No MSG” contain yeast and natural flavorings, which means MSG!!
Homemade stock is easy to make! I normally save all the bones and extras when I’m hacking up a whole chicken to use in cooking, and I’ll also saved bones from cooked chicken and toss them in a zipper top bag and store them in the freezer until I’m ready to use them. I frequently have a bag of raw bones with some chicken meat on them and a bag of used bones in my freezer. I also save the stems from my fresh parsley (in the freezer), and I also hang onto mushroom stems, and veggies that are just about to go bad, but are still safe to eat. I generally try have bags of misfit onion pieces, carrot pieces, mushroom stems and chicken bones in my freezer so that I can make stock when I need it.
The Whole Foods close to us sells chicken backs (the back bone). They are quite affordable. I got 3 large backs per package. Each package was just under 2 pounds and cost me a total of $5.00. MORE than enough to get me 4 quarts of stock. I generally pay $4.00-$5.00 for a quart of organic boxed stock, so it’s more economical to make your own stock. If you don’t live near a Whole Foods, see if a local co-op will sell you chicken backs, or just buy an entire 3-4 pound whole chicken and hack it into pieces. That will work just fine. You might even start making nice with your local butcher. Find out where he gets his chicken and if it is from a local, sustainable, organic farm, see if he’ll save backs for you to come in and buy once a month. My butcher does that with beef bones for me.
UPDATED TO ADD- since moving to SC, chicken backs aren’t available at our local Whole Foods, so I purchase chicken feet from a local farm. It takes 2-3 pounds of chicken feet to make about 6 quarts of the most rich, gelatinous chicken stock you’ve ever tasted!
I only use fresh herbs only in my stock. Fresh herbs freeze well, so I usually have a nice supply of thyme sprigs and parsley stems on hand. You will also need some garlic, a bay leaf, a couple of whole cloves, and some peppercorns for this recipe.
I don’t season my stock much at all because if it is used in a sauce, it will need to be reduced. If you salt your stock and you end up reducing it for a sauce you’ll end up with a chicken flavored salt lick. That’s just not good eatin’ at all! It’s fine if you want to lightly, lightly salt the stock, but you don’t need to. You can season it when it’s time to start using it in a dish.
I really think you’re going to really like making your own stocks. Invest in some 1-quart and pint-sized freezer safe deli containers. Ball, the jam container people make some great plastic (BPA-Free) containers for your canning needs and they are freezer safe, just be sure that your stock is room temperature or cooler before putting it in the plastic containers! I like to use these for storing stock. Just don’t fill them all the way to the top if you’re going to freeze them or the lids will pop off. You can also use glass containers as well.
Here is a picture of what my stockpot looks like right before I turn on the burner. I am using an 8 qt. stockpot in this picture. I have 6 chicken backs, roughly 3.8 pounds. 2 large and 1 small carrot chopped into 2 inch pieces, 4 stalks of celery, 1 large onion, a leek, peppercorns, garlic, thyme, parsley stems, 2 whole cloves, thyme and last but not least, water. About 5 quarts. I filled it to 1 inch below the top of the pot.
**All ingredients used in this stock were organic**
Homemade Chicken StockRecipe by: Real Food Girl: Unmodified Makes: 4 quarts Time: 4-5 hours (mostly inactive)
- 3.5 to 4 pounds chicken backs/assorted bones, or 1 3.5 to 4 pound whole chicken cut into 10 pieces.
- 3 large carrots cut into 2″ pieces
- 4 stalks of celery cut into thirds
- 1 leek washed, green tops removed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces.
- 1 tsp. black pepper corns
- 1 large bay leaf
- 8-12 parsley stems (stem pieces should be 3-4 inches long)
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 whole cloves (if you don’t have whole cloves, just omit this)
- 3 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed (use a meat mallet and give it a whack)
- Cold water
- Rinse your chicken pieces and put them into your stock pot.
- Add all the veggies, and aromatics: pepper corns, bay leaf, parsley stems, thyme, cloves, and garlic.
- Fill the stockpot with cold water to about an inch below the top of the pot.
- Simmer over medium-high heat until the stock begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and let gently simmer for 3-4 hours.
- Skim off any foam (might be grayish brown or white) that appears as the stock is simmering (this is just impurities leaving the bones).
- Skim off excess fat that rises to the surface.
- I generally let my stock cook for 4-5 hours. About 3 hours into the gentle simmer, I remove all the veggies and give the stock a good stir. I then add 1 quart of water, stir and turn the heat up from simmer to low/medium low. I allow the stock to reduce a bit. This will ensure that I’m getting all the collagen from the bones and that I’ll have a stock that gels as it cools. That means I’ve got a very nutrient dense stock!
- When stock is done, remove all chicken and bones from the pot. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Then strain it again through the same sieve but with either cheesecloth or paper towels lining the sieve. The goal is to remove as much grease as possible. A little left over is okay.
- Cool completely, store in quart and pint-sized containers and freeze for later use.
- Can be stored in the freezer for 3-6 months. I usually get 4 quarts of stock from this recipe. If it reduced nicely and the flavor got super concentrated, I’ll add another 3-4 cups of water after removing the chicken and bones. If that’s the case, I could end up with 5+ quarts. Just depends on the chicken parts.
I’ll post how to make beef stock within the next couple of weeks. You’ll remind me if I forget, right?
Enjoy this stock. If you absolutely HAVE to have it seasoned, I would put in no more than 1 tsp. of sea salt or 1.5 tsp. of kosher salt for all that stock. That should enhance the chicken flavor just enough so that you don’t feel like you taste nothing but essence of chicken water. I always taste my stock as it is cooking to ensure I’m getting as much out of my chicken bones and pieces as possible.
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