Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday's tip: Save bones and vegetable scraps for making stock

The day I learned to make chicken stock was a happy day indeed, as I've been able to turn our leftover chicken bones and vegetable scraps into usable, nutritious food ever since. I find chicken stock useful for making soup, gravy, risottos and a number of chicken recipes I like.
I just love the smell of chicken stock simmering away (although my husband hates it so I have to shut the kitchen door and open all the windows).

There's justification for the old wives' tale to eat chicken soup when you're sick. Chicken stock, the traditional base for chicken soup, is full of the things we need to fight colds - calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. Better yet, it's packaged in an easily digestible form.

Now whenever I buy or harvest celery, I give it a good rinse, trim off the leaves and base and chuck them in a plastic bag in the freezer to wait until I want to make stock. Same goes for the ends of onions and occasionally carrot peel (if I can be bothered properly cleaning the carrot before peeling it.)
Every time we have roast chicken for dinner, I make a batch of chicken stock after. It's so easy! I just pick all the meat off the bones and set that aside for making things like Mexican rollups and chicken sandwiches. The bones themselves go straight into the pot to make chicken stock, along with any vegetable scraps I've stored up in the freezer.

Until now I've been making my stock in a stock pot on the stove. However, I've just read over at Nourishing Days that making it in the crock pot can be a good way to go, because you can let it stew for longer and don't have to keep an eye on it. I'm definitely going to try that next time.

  • Roast chicken carcass (meat removed, but leave the skin in) and/or a collection of chicken bones and feet
  • Vegetable scraps, eg. celery leaves and base, carrot peel and onion ends
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Filtered water to cover
  • 2T apple cider vinegar
1. Place chicken carcass, vegetable scraps, peppercorns and bay leaf in a stock pot or crock pot.

2. Cover with cold filtered water (enough to cover by 5cm) and add in apple cider vinegar. (I also found out about adding vinegar from Nourishing Days. Cider vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones, making your chicken stock even more nutritious.) Leave to sit for an hour to allow the extraction process to start.

3. If using a stock pot, place the lid on and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and remove scum as it forms. Simmer for 4-8 hours. If using a crock pot, place lid on and cook on low for 8-24 hours.

4. Allow liquid to cool to room temperature, and then strain into storage containers.

5. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. The fat will set on top. Skim this off and store separately as it can be used for sautéing, thus saving you money on butter and cooking oils.

6. Your stock is now ready to use. The more gelatinous it is, the better it is for you as it will contain lovely nutrients from the cartilage and tendons that help ease arthritis and joint pain. Stock can be stored in jars in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen in plastic containers for later use.
7. Label containers with the quantity of stock contained so you can pull out exactly the quantity needed for different recipes.


  1. Wouldn't be without homemade chicken stock! I make mine (using leftover roast chicken bones, like you, and/or frames from the local organic meat shop) but I didn't like what happened when I tried the slow cooker. It went kind of dark brown, and didn't taste the same. I leave mine on on all day in a big stock pot on a very low electric element, whether I am at home or not (but don't do this with gas).

  2. That's interesting to hear that the crockpot method didn't work for you. I've given my crockpot away now so won't be able to try for myself. But I do have an electric stove now so I could try your low heat/ long time method.

  3. I like the crock pot idea. I will definitely have to try that. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Emma, I'd love you to come and post this on the next Sunday Night Soup Night because it gives some great tips for stock making.

  5. Hi Emma, thanks for sharing your stock tips with Sunday Night Soup Night! Look forward to seeing you again next time!


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