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Everything You Need to Know for Making Your Own Chicken Stock

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If you're in the market for stock, the benefits of making it yourself are plentiful. Packed with flavour and goodness, it's easy to make and often more flavoursome than shop-bought stocks. Essential to have on hand, the depth and quality it adds to your dishes is unmistakable and noticeably different than what you might be used to.

Taste and richness aside, it's also a superb use of any leftovers you might have, so it saves on waste and money, too. Rather than tossing out your bones and unwanted veggie, cooking them up into a delicious broth reduces food waste, and we're all about that here. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know before you make your homemade stock.

A full chicken in a pan with onions, celery and carrotsYou too can make your own chicken stock.

Raw chicken or cooked bones?

Quite simply, you can make stock with either raw chicken or cooked bones, but the stock is affected accordingly in the process. Making it with raw chicken means the cooked meat will fall straight off the bone, providing you with chicken that's endlessly tender and succulent. However, some say that it can be a little bland as a result and the since the bird hasn't been skinned, the resulting stock can be a little on the fatty, greasy side.

With just the bones in your stock, the end result should be one that's cleaner, richer and with an increased depth of flavour. Additionally, the bones release more collagen and gelatine into the broth, strengthening it with more robustness and body.

Cold water is key

Certain proteins that are present in bones will only dissolve in cold water, which will help to clarify the stock as a result.

The temperature of the water isn't the only factor that's important here. We want the stock to be as pure and clear as possible. Filtered water ensures you won't end up with a cloudy stock that's full of impurities.

Mirepoix: A French essential

The foundation of many a culinary creation, mirepoix (pronounced "meer-pwah") is a combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions that colours stocks with that unmistakable aroma. Known as "aromatics", it consists of a 2:1:1 ratio of onions, carrots and celery that are all chopped more or less uniformly.

The finer they're chopped, the quicker their flavours are released into the stock, but there's no real need for precision here, as long as your veg is chopped in a relatively uniform manner. It's not an exact science, but mirepoix done right is a fine art.

Chopped onions, carrots and celeryYou can't have chicken stock without mirepoix.

Don't get salty

Maybe the most important thing to remember when you're making your stock is to resist seasoning it with salt. Since everything in the pot is being concentrated, their flavours will become stronger and stronger. Adding salt will just make it over-salty as it simmers away, and chances are you'll be using your stock later on in something that requires seasoning, so wait until then to do so.

Hold onto your bones

If you don't like to waste food or you're tightening the purse strings, then good news: you can make multiple batches of stock from the same bones again and again. From one chicken's bones, you'll get plenty of mileage, and buying a fresh chicken to make a new batch of stock is probably out of the question.

When using bones, trim away as much of the fat and skin as you can to avoid making your stock greasy. If the bones are quite large, chop them up to expose as much surface area as possible, this way more flavour will be extracted from them.

Chicken stock in a potDo your best to resist seasoning your chicken stock.

Freezing your stock

If you've made a lot of stock, then you'll need to store it in the freezer for later down the line. Make sure to leave an inch of space between the stock and the top of the freezer so the liquid can expand once it's in there.

When using freezer bags, fill them with four-cup portions since a lot of soup recipes typically call for this amount. Lay them flat in the freezer so you can stack them up easily. If you do need smaller portions of stock, then an ice tray makes a great receptacle for them.

Remember, your stock will keep for up to six months when stored in a freezer.

For a great recipe that takes no effort to make, check out this one from the BBC right here. In just three hours, you'll have an abundance of all-purpose stock to make your favourite dishes even tastier and open yourself up to a whole new world of flavours in the process.

Versatile and essential, we hope you get inspired to stock up on this kitchen essential and make it yourself. Remember, it can be stored using the FoodSaver vacuum sealing system, so you can save money and reduce food waste - find out more about ourinnovative range of vacuum sealers.