A Tutorial on How to Make Chicken Stock the Easy Way: In a Crockpot
Chicken stock makes my little frugal heart go pitter pat. Not only do you make it with stuff you would have thrown away anyway, but it is delicious and is super healthy for you. Can you tell I am pretty passionate about chicken stock? :)
For those of you who have never made it before, or have made it on the stove top and had to skim it and watch it and stir it, I am going to show you how to make it the easy way.
First, you need a crock pot. Mine is the normal size (6 quarts maybe? 8? I’m not sure.)
Then, you need some chicken bones. I roast a chicken once every 4-6 weeks and use the bones from that. Do not put skin or fat in because that will end up getting skimmed off at the end anyway and it doesn’t add any nutritional value or anything. Also, any cartilage on the bird is good. Cartilage will make it nice and gelatinous. (Which is what you want.) When you get the meat off of the bones, don’t get every single tiny little scrap of meat. Its better if there is a little bit of meat on there. (I’m not talking about noticeable amounts of meat. Just the stuff at some of the joints that is hard to get off, etc.)
(Mine have been in the fridge until I had time to make the stock, which is why they are all stuck together.)
Place bones in the crock pot. If you have more than one “set” of chicken bones, the stock will be even better. I had two “sets” one time and the liquid it made was seriously amazing—such a rich and deep flavor and it gelled when it was cold. (Which is a good sign. Means you made good stock!) (I am thinking “set of chicken bones” sounds better than chicken carcass.)
Next, you need some veggies and some spices.
I like to use a few carrots, some celery, some cloves of garlic (which I forgot to put in the picture), a bay leaf, dried oregano and parsley, onion, and some salt and pepper. You can even use vegetable scraps for this part. If you have ends of carrots or the tops of celery, just throw it in the freezer until you are ready to make stock and then put them in with the chicken bones. I don’t do that because I rarely use a whole bag of carrots or celery and I always forget. :)
Now, wash the carrots and celery if they haven’t already been washed. No need to peel the carrots. Cut up the carrots and celery into pieces. Doesn’t need to be small. Just so you are able to fit it in your crock pot.
Cut up the onion and cut into quarters. You can even leave the skin on if you want to. I hear it makes the stock a pretty brown color, but I have never done it.
Take the papery skin off of the garlic cloves.
Now throw all of that stuff in on top of your bones.
Next, add your spices—the salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano. Don’t forget the bay leaf!
Now, you need to pour in about a tablespoon of white vinegar. The vinegar helps to draw out the calcium, magnesium, and other good things from the bones while it is cooking, making it even healthier. I was nervous about this the first time because didn’t want my stock to taste like vinegar, but you can’t taste it at all after its done. (I must’ve poured it in after I filled it up with water. It doesn’t matter. As long as it gets in there.)
Now, fill up the crock pot with cold water all the way up to the top. Cold water is important (from what I have read) because as it heats up it also helps to leach the minerals out of the bones.
Put your lid on, turn the crock pot on low and leave it for 12-16 hours. No need to stir or skim. If you leave it on overnight, when you wake up in the morning your kitchen will smell good.
After the 12-16 hours has elapsed, you need to strain your stock.
Simply get a big bowl, put a wire mesh colander (or just one with smallish holes) on top and pour the stock through that into the bowl. If you want a very clear stock, then you will need to line the colander with cheese cloth. I don’t care if some of the little specs of spices gets through, so I never bother with that. I have the cookie sheet underneath so that way if it runs down the side when I am pouring it out, then its easier to clean up.
After it cools on the counter top, any fat that is in it will float to the top and harden. Scrape this off and get rid of it. If you did it the way I said to above, then you will probably have very little fat.
This recipe usually makes a scant 2 L of stock.
Now, either make something with it or freeze it. It’ll keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days at least. You can put it in the freezer in smaller portions sizes (1 cup, 2 cups.) I usually put mine in the freezer in glass jars that I’ve saved from other products I’ve used up. You could put it in bags and freeze them flat too (although I’ve always had trouble with them leaking for some reason.) It’ll keep in the freezer a while too.
This is way healthier and cheaper than buying. You are able to control the ingredients—so no added MSG or copious amounts of salt. And it is very healthy! Calcium and minerals leach out of the bones, which is why chicken soup is good for you when you are sick.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Here are some resources around the web for you.
The benefits of bone stock (This lady is awesome. I love how much she researches everything.)