Don't Waste Those Chicken Bones - Make Chicken Stock!
It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be sniffling, coughing and sneezing. If you’re feeling under the weather, then what better way to feed that cold than with a good dose of chicken soup? But is chicken soup really good for you, or is it just an old wives’ tale?
Medical research has found that chicken soup really does help reduce the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, as well as improving the function of cilia that help prevent infections from entering your body. It also provides easily digested calories and hydration. All good stuff when you’re not feeling great!
One of the reasons that chicken soup is so great is the stock. Chicken stock contains gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin from the bones and joint tissue, and these help reduce inflammation in the body.
So today let’s look at how to create your own chicken stock from ingredients that you would normally throw away…
What you need
1 chicken carcass
Vegetables and herbs for additional flavor such as onion, carrots, parsley, etc.
TIP: When you are preparing herbs and vegetables, you can save the peelings/scraps to use the next time you make stock. I have a bag in the freezer where I store vegetable scraps for this exact purpose.
What to do
Place the chicken bones, plus any vegetables and herbs that you want to add, into a large pot and cover with water.
Bring the pot to a simmer over a low-medium heat. Lower the heat and let it simmer gently for at least 3-4 hours. Remember to check on it periodically - you may need to top up the water from time to time, to keep the bones covered.
Remove the larger bones and vegetables from the broth with a slotted spoon. Then strain the broth through a sieve to remove any other small pieces of bone or vegetables.
How much time?
At least 3-4 hours to make the stock. If you have the time and really want to get as much goodness as possible from the carcass then you can simmer the bones for 24 hours.
A 16 oz container of chicken stock costs about $0.99, but homemade chicken broth is practically free as you are using a chicken carcass and vegetable or herb scraps that you would ordinarily throw away.
Is it worth it?
I was initially tempted to give chicken stock a 4-pig rating as it does take some time to make. However, the ability to get something delicious from food scraps that would otherwise go to waste means that it gets a 5-pig rating. I mean, who doesn’t like getting something for practically nothing?
Anything else I should know?
Can I make chicken stock with just the bones, no additional vegetables or herbs?
Often, I don’t have leftover vegetable or herbs scraps to add to the stock, so I have made chicken stock with just bones many times. Don’t worry, you’ll still get a great chicken flavor and the same nutritional benefits when it’s made this way, plus it is a little easier.
I’ve seen other recipes that tell me I need to skim the fat off the surface of the stock – do I need to do this?
It depends on your preference and how you will be using your broth. As the Broth Whisperer blogger says:
If you plan on whipping up a gourmet pan sauce with your broth, removing the fat is a good idea to keep your sauce from breaking…Bone marrow is approximately 80% fat in a healthy animal. If you want the bone marrow nutrients, you need the fat...Some of the nutrients in broth require fat to be properly absorbed.
So, if you’re wanting the most nutrients in your broth, then don’t skim…plus it’s less effort!
How long does it last?
You can keep your stock in the fridge for about 3 days.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, chicken stock freezes very well, and it lasts for at least 6 months.