Making Chicken Stock

Chicken necks and backs. That’s what we use to make chicken stock. Then we process it in canning jars and store it in the pantry. You can also freeze the stock. My wife, Marlene, uses our homemade chicken stock as a base for the wonderful soups she makes. Nothing beats homemade soup made with homegrown chicken stock on a cold winter day (and homemade biscuits to go with it sounds good too)! The stock is also a great base for homemade gravy too.

It is remarkably easy to make your own chicken stock. Marlene uses the Ball Blue Book as a guide for making her stock. It starts, of course, with a stock pot full of backs and necks:

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Marlene fills the pot with enough water to cover the meat. Then she puts in coarsely chopped celery and onion. She adds maybe a tablespoon of salt, along with a teaspoon or so of black peppercorns. The Ball Blue Book recommends bay leaves too.

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Bring the pot to a boil and let it simmer for two hours or more, until the meat is tender. Here’s what it looks like while it’s simmering:

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We pour the cooked mixture into a colander over another, smaller stock pot in the kitchen sink. The stock goes through the colander. The meat doesn’t.

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And that gives us a pot of golden-colored broth...

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Here’s what the Blue Book says to do next:

“Allow stock to cool until fat solidifies; skim off fat. Bring stock to boil. Ladle hot stock into hot jars, leaving 1” headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam pressure canner.”

Marlene doesn’t usually let the stock cool down until the fat solidifies. She lets it cool down a bit, the fat rises to the top, and she skims most of it off. Here are some of the finished jars just out of the canner...

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Click Here to read Herrick Kimball's other poultry-related essays.


deconstructingVenus said...

Wow. This has totally inspired me. I just told my husband i want to order some meat chickens in the spring. What breed would you recommend? I currently have 17 dual-purpose chickens that will only meet their maker after their laying years are over. You can read about them on my farm blog. :) They grow so slowly though, even when I hatch out future generations and will need to butcher the excess roosters, it will be less than efficient in terms of feed expenses.

Steven Schroeder said...

The ultimate stock-making device is, of course "brew-pot" made for use by home-made beer brewers. It's a big stainless stock pot (20-60 qts) with a spigot and ball valve welded into the side just above the bottom. That way you don't have lift the kettle when it's full of hot stock, and best of all, when you drain the pot, you drain it form the bottom and the fat stays floating on the liquid, viz. fat free stock. I got mine from, but they are widely available. Tehy rang ein price from about $100 to $250, and are great for cooking up anything big - think beef stock, vegetable stock, bee food, and, obviously, beer.

Carole said...

You are so missing out by not putting the feet in your stock. Seriously.

I get whole chickens at our Asian market - they are cleaned, but still have the head and the feet attached, so I was reading this fascinating at how I've been de-heading and feeting it incorrectly.

Mostly just hacking at it with a cleaver.

Freakishly cool.

the-mommy-person said...

This is great info! My husband is butchering his first chicken as we speak...after religiously studying your site. I wanted to ask if you can use the 'cold can' method for your stock canning. I don't know if you still check in on this blog... Thanks! (

WindDancer said...

all I can say is WOW... I have been trying to figure out how to do this myself... thanks!!!!!!!

Paige said...

Mmmmm....looks so good!

The DH and I got a rotisserie chicken from the store (no butchering chickens for us yet, still in a city apartment), and this reminded me to boil it down and make some broth.

Can't wait to pull it out of the freezer and make some stew this fall! :)

missmessy said...

I am so thankful for your tutorial. I learned SO much. I wanted to give you some vital info also. When you make chicken stock there is a trick to really sucking all of the calcium and gelatin out of those bones. If you put a couple of Tablespoons (about 1 tsp per quart of liquid) of vinegar in the stock pot and let it sit there for an hour before you turn on the heat, Viola! The calcium content of the stock is actually tripled. So cool!

tawanda1966 said...

This is great. I butchered my first chicken last week without too much incidence and I am proud to say that I did everything pretty much like you said. There are a couple of areas that I might do differently after reading your blog. Most of it involves the vent, although I made sure not to contaminate. I will however start looking for a kitchen sink for a processing sink. Since I kill as I go right now, I won't need to keep up with cooling and packaging. However, I do see this in my future. The feet I have read make a to die for gumbo so I have cut off the toes and am freezing until I have a few. I am eager to report back on gumbo. Thank you for a comprehensive blog.

Tim B. Inman said...

My Grandmother was a super cook. She ran a restaurant, and cooked for big groups. She always saved the feet and made broth with them. It is absolutely the secrect weapon for good broth or stock. Scald them (don't cook them) in hot water then dip them in cold water, and the skin peels right off. Looks awful, but the results are wonderful.

David Boharski said...

Great tutorial, but I would definitely suggest not throwing out the feet. Chicken feet make the best soup imaginable.

David Boharski said...

Great tutorial, but I would definitely suggest not throwing out the feet. Chicken feet make the best soup imaginable.

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