Homemade Chicken Stock ~Using a Crockpot

Whenever I make a whole chicken, I save the bones and skin to make chicken stock (or broth...I think the two are basically the same). It's actually super simple and it's one of the best things I learned to do last year (after hula hooping, of course). It's so easy. This is what you do. Take all your bones, fat, skin, drippings, any meat pieces you didn't want to eat and throw them in the crock pot. At this point, you can also chop up a couple of carrots, 1-2 celery, and 1 onion and throw them in the crockpot. Don't get fancy with it because you are going to eventually throw them out. Or you can blend them up and have a thicker stock, but I like a clear looking chicken noodle soup and don't save the veggies. Okay, so with all the ingredients in the pot, I add one bay leaf, 3-4 peppercorns, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, and fill the pot with just enough water to cover it all.

Then you turn the crockpot on low and leave it for 10-12 hours. I almost always start the crockpot right after dinner and leave it until morning, and it always turns out great (except for the one time my old crockpot died in the middle of the night....but barring that, it works great).

It will simmer all the good, tasty flavors and minerals right out of the bones and skin (and veggies). I usually have plenty of veggies on hand and happily throw them in, but in this example I was out of veggies and just went with the carcass and skin. I add lemon juice to increase the extraction of collagen and calcium from the bones.

Once you turn off the crockpot, let it sit and cool while you gather your supplies. All you need next are a large bowl and a strainer. You can use a cool $20 strainer or you can go cheapo like me with a $1 screen from the dollar store. This has been, by far, my best dollar store purchase. So, strain out the chicken bones, skin, and veggies. Then throw them away. If you left any meat in there, it will have lost most of it's flavor to the stock. You can eat it if you want, or share it with your pet, but it really won't be the best.

The fat will immediately start floating to the top, and you can skim it off at this point or put the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour or so, and skim it once the fat has hardened. It's easier this way, and I'm sure you could find a way to occupy your time while you wait. A word of caution...when you make homemade chicken stock, it will be gelatinous when it gets cold, so be careful that you don't scoop out all the solid material in the bowl, just the top/creamy/whitish layer. It looks a little like chicken jello, and it sets like that because of all the healthy collagen in your stock. Most commercial stocks take it out...and sell it as gelatin, but you miss out on the healthy proteins and calcium from the collagen that way.

After you've skimmed the fat, feel free to use it in a soup recipe or package it up and freeze for later. I like to freeze it in 1 cup packets, so I can easily use it for rice recipes without measuring. If I'm saving it for soup, I freeze it in one big gallon bag.

You may have noticed that I didn't add any salt to my chicken stock. I actually like it without any salt, and I recommend that you don't add any until you taste it in your final recipe and decide how much you need at that time. If you add salt during the stock making, you run the risk of concentrating it as the water boils off and making your dishes too salty.


Jessica-MomForHim said...

Wow, I learned a LOT from this post! I usually just save the water/stock from boiling my chicken breasts, but I didn't know anything about the healthy collagen, proteins, and calcium! Thanks!

Jessica-MomForHim said...

Can I post this on my blog, too, under recipes? Let me know! :-)

Lydia said...

Now THIS is a cool idea! Thanks for sharing. I'm dying to try it.

Lisa said...

I have done this twice since I originally read this post a few weeks ago. Love it! Worked great for the turkey after Thanksgiving too. Thanks!

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