Chicken stock is used in many recipes, but where does it come from? Well, for most folks it comes in a can or a box from the store ladened with salt and preservatives. But it didn’t always come that way! Once, long ago, when folks raised more of their own food, including chickens, people made their own chicken stock. And to be honest with you, it really isn’t all that hard to do! While it takes time to make, it is one of those set it and walk away kind of things.
This year we raised our own meat birds for the first time. Hubby recently butchered eight of them and broke them down for freezing. We find it much easier to just grab what we need, then to thaw a whole frozen chicken. More work upfront, less work later on. Well since he had done so many birds at once, we had a nice assortment of “left overs” as we will call them. There were necks, backbone areas and such. Well we just couldn’t let that all go to waste now could we! So we pulled out a BIG pot and set to making homemade chicken stock from scratch. Now I know butchering your own meat is a scary thing for most of the general population….. it is NOT a requirement for making your own chicken stock. You can buy your birds from a farmer or a store. Save up all your “left overs” in a freezer bag till you have a nice stock pile.
When you have a nice mess of “left overs” collected, it is time to get boiling. Now mind you, the carcasses we used had very little meat left on them. We threw them (bones and all) into the pot with five large carrots, three small onions, a few smashed cloves of garlic, and half a bunch of celery, which were all rough chopped. There is nothing fancy necessary to make chicken stock. We brought the pot up to a very low boil and let her set for approximately 6 hours. As the water evaporated we added in more to keep the level about an inch from the top of the pan.
When you’re done boiling and the stock cools, you will have to skim the fat off the top. A little fat adds flavor, a lot is just gross! We strained the contents of our pot through cheese cloth in order to remove everything but the liquid. Who wants big chunks of “stuff” in broth!?!? Chicken soup yes, but not in broth.
Now our big pot of stock came close to around three gallons of stock, which we canned for later use. I know not everyone has eight chicken carcasses or a canner, we went crazy. That being said, you can always scale back the amounts and make a little to keep in your fridge when ever you break down a whole chicken. And don’t worry too much about how much this or that we used. The great thing about making stock is you can adjust the flavor as you go. Taste your stock, add in salt and pepper to taste, be brave!!! Your taste buds will let you know when your “yellow liquid gold” is just right.
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**