REAL FOOD 101: How to Make Chicken Stock

Real Food 101: How to Make Chicken Stock | OUR NOURISHING ROOTS

(To buy the REAL FOOD 101 E-book: Traditional Foods, Traditionally Prepared, click here.  Full color photos, step by step tutorials, and more.)

Besides craving the warming spices of autumn in oatmeals and quickbreads, when October rolls around I can feel a change in the air.  That shift tells me something subtle, but that I always notice.  It is not just time to enjoy cool breezes across the desert at night, to get out slippers and sweaters; it is time for a shift in my body and soul.  I start to crave warm soups and stocks, hearty dishes that will nourish me to the bone as the Earth tilts away from the Sun.

I know that we live in a culture that villianizes fats and nourishment.  We are told, especially as women, to deprive ourselves of food for beauty.  Well it didn’t matter how much I deprived myself of calories and fats, I wasn’t happy or healthy.  I was shocked when I realized that fats are nourishing.  I have found that true nourishment means that I feel satiated and energized, not fat and unhappy like conventional dietary perspectives insist.  I have actually lost weight and gained energy by eating three square meals a day, each loaded with traditional fats like grass-fed butter, egg yolks, and coconut oil.  It was this acceptance of healthy fats that helped me turn the health corner to greater vibrancy and feeling like my “real self”.

If I had to pick a nourishing food that would sit at the pinnacle of all foods, it might be chicken stock.  Actually, I think it would be a tie between chicken stock and fermented cod liver oil, but that is beside the point.  Chicken stock is certainly the more savory and delectable of the two!  Sipping a cup of chicken stock, perhaps with a little cream or an egg yolk, is one of the most satisfying practices I embrace in the fall and winter.

I am also currently following the GAPS diet, which employs the use of healing bone broths to restore balance to gut flora and immune system function.  When on GAPS you have stock three times a day, using it’s soothing and alkalizing properties to heal from the inside out.  I have chosen to do GAPS for adrenal and thyroid support, as well as to balance out my hormones after having children and eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) for so many years.

On the Weston A. Price website about broth, it says this:

Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

Stock can solidify when it cools, from the presence of gelatin simmering from the bones for 6-8 hours.  You can also simmer stock for longer than that, and though the finished and cooled stock won’t gel, you will still have a stock full of gelatin plus a greater amount of minerals the longer it simmers.  I generally simmer my stock on the longer side, since I prefer as much calcium and minerals seeped from the bones as possible.

In the summer, I simmer mine in a lead-free slow cooker overnight on the back porch (pictured below; buy a slow cooker here), keeping the house cool.  In the winter, I simmer mine in an enameled cast iron oven with a heavy lid (buy a French oven here), using the warmth to help keep the house a bit more heated.  It is small choices like this that can streamline a shift to real food, not to mention being a consciencious and mindful choice for conserving energy year round.

Chicken stock is simple: pastured chicken with bones, vegetables, filtered water, and a splash of vinegar to pull the minerals out of the bones.  You don’t need to peel the vegetables if they are organic, especially since you will be straining them out after the stock is done.  You should also strive to get pastured chickens for making stock: they gel better, they are happier, they are environmentally friendly, and they don’t have harmful additives that seep into your stock.

Equipment Needed:

Simple Chicken Stock

1 whole pastured chicken
1 bag of giblets: heart, liver and gizzard
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 onion
1 bay leaf
1 handful of thyme
1 handful of rosemary
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (buy apple cider vinegar here)
2 tablespoons sea salt, optional (buy unrefined sea salt here)
1 bunch fresh parsley

  1. Place chicken in a slow cooker or cast iron pot.  Add giblets.  Break carrots and celery stalks in half and add to the pot.  Cut onion in half and add to the pot.  Add the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary to the pot.
  2. Fill with filtered water to an inch below the top of the pot.  Add apple cider vinegar, cover, and let sit at room temperature for one hour.  This helps pull the minerals from the bones more effectively.
  3. If using a pot: bring to a boil on the stove, then lower the heat and simmer on low, covered, overnight.  If using a slow cooker: simply cover and turn on high overnight.  (The high setting on a slow cooker is the same as a simmer on a stove.)
  4. In the morning, uncover and strain into a large mixing bowl.  Reserve the chicken, picking off the meat for later, or to add back in to a soup.  Discard the vegetables.
  5. Pour stock into a large glass jar, straining again if desired, and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Use to make soups, stews, or reduce to make gravies and sauces.  It is also useful when you are sick, sipped with a little sprinkle of sea salt.  You can also freeze for longer storage, either in jars with lids or ice cube trays emptied into freezer bags.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen KopSimple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


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  1. I needed this today! Thank you!!

  2. Thank you. You are my teacher! : )

    • I love you, this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! I thought of you the other day when I made a fish stock that tasted GOOD. It was from trout, so I think that’s why it turned out so well.

  3. Wow. That seems so easy doing it overnight! Time for me to make my very. First. Pot. Of. Stock!!!

    • I’m so proud! I love the slow cooker way, it’s very easy. And to throw in whole veggies that I don’t have to peel is probably my favorite part. Plus, chicken stock is just so TASTY! You’ll be blown away by the soups you can make with it. And knowing you, they’ll be creative and delicious!

  4. You completely converted me to homemade chicken stock. I now never have less than 4 quarts in my freezer.

    To think, I used to pay for canned broth!

    • I feel the same way after switching over, especially now that I know it’s not just about the taste. It’s actually full of way more nutrients if you do it the slow way at home. It just feels like that would be right anyways.

    • Kendahl converted Emily. Emily converted me! Love homemade chicken stock:)

      • AND thanks for showing how you do your crock pot outside. I’ve been wanting to try and do it but didn’t want to burn down the house.

        • Yes, I like using the wood cutting board underneath, not just for safety but to catch any spills! You could also use a glass cutting board. But definitely NOT a plastic chair (like I thought for a split second once!) Eventually I want to get some short metal wire shelves to put on the back porch for my slow cooker, dehydrator, and all the gardening supplies. Organization nerd? Yes!

  5. Ummm… Looks great! Can’t wait to try it. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays for the times I need just a little broth for flavoring veggies or meat.

  6. I don’t add salt to my stock, mainly because I want the option of reducing it to use as sauce or gravy. Am I missing out on nutrients by not adding salt during cooking?

    • No the salt is optional as far as I know. I think I’ll actually go back and put that in the recipe. I add salt usually, because we are drinking it for GAPS a lot of times. But I do really like to make a big pot of stock with no salt if my plans are to make it into a soup. That way I can season it all at once. Good question, thanks 🙂

  7. Great stock-making tips! I’m hosting a weekly blog carnival specifically for soups, stocks and chowders, every Sunday. I would love it if you would come over and post this recipe. Here’s a link with more info.

    I hope to see you there!

  8. I’ve been making stock weekly after roasting a pastured chicken on Sundays, but it hasn’t ever gelled, so I’m going to start adding in some raw drumsticks or something. Or I need to find a source for chicken feet! It’s so nice to be able to heat up some stock for a quick lunch when I can’t think of anything else to eat.

    • If you can find chicken feet, then that’s an almost guarantee for a good gel. Other than that I’ve heard varying reasons for why or why not it gels. Some say it’s whether or not the chicken is truly pastured. Others say that it’s how long you simmer (6-8 hours for a gel, they say). So I don’t know. Sometimes I get a good gel, and I say “happy surprise” and don’t even wonder anymore. It’s all accidental for me!

      • Where in the world do you find “organic”, chicken feet? I have called every place around me (lakeland, Florida) and can’t find anything close to what I am looking for. I am going to try whole foods in Orlando, crossing my fingers. Do you know of some place you can order it in from online??

      • I thought the way to get the chicken broth to gel into “bone broth” was to let it cook for 24 to 36 hours.

        • If you cook it too long, the gelatin won’t set up and gel. Strangely, the trick is to cook the bone broth for not too short and not too long. I haven’t perfected it. But I do know that even if the broth doesn’t gel, that it still contains all the nutrients from the gelatin.

  9. Also, will you be posting about beef stock too? I’ve currently got my first attempt at it on the stove, but not sure if I’m doing it right. Seems a bit trickier.

  10. Just finished making my first batch! Yay! And I couldn’t believe how “fall off the bone” the meat was. Awesome to the max. You are awesome, friend. 🙂

  11. I just found your site and love it! regarding chicken broth, most recipes call for using bones only, is there a difference using the whole chicken? Also can I put a frozen chicken right in the slow cooker or does it need to be thawed? thank you!


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