March 14, 2011

Bag of Bones

Last week we ate the last of our homegrown chicken. I've been saving all the bones in a big bag in the freezer.

With the chicken gone, it was time to make and can chicken stock.

The difference between stock and broth is that stock is made using bones, broth is made from meat. The advantage to stock, is the potential for protein, collagen, and minerals from the bones. I say potential, because a cold water start, long cooking, and an acid are required to extract all of the available nutrients. The acid dissolves calcium out of the bones. I'm using lemons, but vinegar or white wine could be used as well.

My stock isn't fancy. I dumped the bones into my biggest pot and covered with water. I don't add vegetables like many recipes call for. I use leftover bones rather than whole chickens, because this is part of our waste not want not lifestyle.

Various directions call for long, barely simmering cooking. Length of time can vary anywhere from all day to several days. You can see in the photo on the left, how this helps soften and extract the collagen from the ends of the bones. Collagen is important for connective tissue health (skin, arteries, joints, tendons, etc).

Once it's done cooking, I remove the bones and pick off the bits of meat and often put them back in the stock. Most recipes don't call for this, but Dan likes to find bits of meat in his soup, gravy, rice, etc., so I leave them in. Inedible parts are fed to the chickens. Bones are discarded. While I'm working on that, the stock goes into the fridge for the fat to congeal so I can skim it off.

Chicken stock can be frozen, but I have limited space in my freezer, so I can mine. It is processed in pints and quarts in my pressure canner, according to the directions in Ball Blue Book: 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts, at 10 pounds pressure.

I do freeze my cooking waters as broth, unless used to make gravy. Sometimes I'll add a couple cups of water (no soap!) to "soak" the cooking pan. This softens the scrapings, which I pour into a canning jar and freeze. I use as needed for soups or cooking grains.

Making and canning this was a perfect project for the cold rainy spell we had recently. Helped keep the house warm!

Interested in more information? Try these articles:


luckybunny said...

Great post, it looks great and this will be a great help to me later as we are raising our first meat birds this year. I'll be trying this out. Off to read your post on homegrown chicken now :)

Tania said...

Thank you for sharing this stock idea. I need to make some chicken stock too, so now I know how I will get started and just do it. I have all these recipes but yours sounds pretty easy.

Have a lovely day,


Leigh said...

Donna, thanks! It's another thing we can do for ourselves to ensure the best quality product possible. It's also gratifying that we're utilizing as much of the bird as possible.

Tania, simple and easy ought to be my middle name, LOL. I'm sure those more detailed recipes are worth the effort and I'd love to try adding the vegetables someday when we're producing plenty of extras in the garden.

Sharon said...

I always use the leftover bones to make stock, but I didn't know about adding an acid. I'll try adding wine in the next batch I make. Thank you

Theresa said...

Looks yummy! I add lemons too.

DebbieB said...

Now this is something I can do - I'll start saving those bones immediately!

Leigh said...

Sharon, I think I'll try white wine next time too. I don't really cook with it, but would be interested to see how it flavors the stock.

Theresa, hurray for lemons! :)

DebbieB, yes! There are so many; uses for stock too, and so much cheaper and healthier to make one's own.

Diane Barnard said...

I have bags of chicken carcasses in my freezer awaiting such a project. I did it once, but added too much vinegar. I did not know about using lemons or wine. The wine sounds good and probably not to bad if you overdo it a little:)

What do you think about using a chicken carcass that has already been used once for broth? Will there be any goodness left the second time around?

Renee Nefe said...

I guess I made broth then...hummm oh well it came out very yummy. I made it in the crock pot.

I should try to can it next time...last time I just put it in my freezer.
I found an awesome potato soup recipe and using homemade broth/stock makes it taste so much better.

Leigh said...

Starlighthill, that's a good question about the chicken carcass. Was it cooked in vinegar? If not, then I would think that there would be something left! At the very least, it couldn't hurt. :)

Renee, I'd love to have that recipe! Homemade broth and stock are so nice to have on hand, especially since it can be made to individual preferences. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh neat! I didn't know the difference between stock and broth to be honest! I used to use those words interchangeably, no more! :)
I'm soooooooo looking forward to buying my property in a few years so that I can have the room to can. I have a water bath canner at the moment, but it limits what I can, uh, can. One of the first purchases I'm going to make is a pressure canner for sure! So exciting!!! :)))

Nina said...

mmmm homemade stock is so tasty and what a great addition to other dishes. I usually add any veggies which are starting to wilt, like celery, carrots etc as well. I've added wine, apple juice, cider, whatever I have on hand to bump up the flavours sometimes.

deglazing a pan is certainly a way to use up those concentrated flavours of the crusty drippings. It's a bonus that it make the pan easier to clean I think.

icebear said...

I have been doing this too! Well the chix aren't my own, but i know i have a good stock when it sets like stiff jell-o. Have you read
'Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon? Fabulous book on nutrition, lacto fermentation and some self-sufficiency and other thrifty things. She is a big proponent of this sort of thing.
Oh, i learned about a way to compost bones too- would be great for the garden, its actually a sort of lacto fermentation system, i can't remember what its called but its in my blog somewhere. It was interesting to research. let me know if you want me to dig that entry up for you.

Leigh said...

Rain, I think some folks still use them interchangeably. Sometimes I do! You will absolutely enjoy a pressure canner. There are so many things that can be canned: vegetables, meats, soups, stews. Wonderfully convenient!

Nina, deglazing! That's the word I couldn't think of. I like the idea of adding veggies like that. I almost always have those around and I do think they'd increase the flavor. Apple juice or cider sound like good ideas too.

Icebear, yes, I have read Sally Fallon's book! That book changed our entire way of eating. I'm glad you mentioned about composting the bones. Dan and I have been trying to think of a way to do that, so your information sounds perfect. Our big concern is something digging through the compost to get them!

icebear said...

its called bokashi composting, here is the link to my entry on it
hope that works, its supposed to be pretty much air tight so not much worry about critters. another thing that i haven't explored as far as i'd like is phoneix worm composting. do a search for it if you are interested, chicken keepers would be particularly interested since the larvae are also good chicken feed as well as excellent scrap consumers.

hopefully you will find the info very useful!

Leigh said...

Icebear, thank you so much! I've never heard of bokashi composting. Fascinating! I have plenty of leftover juices from lactofermenting, which I hate to throw away and because we eat meat, we have plenty of meat waste as well. Sounds like an excellent way to deal with them.

Bootzey said...

"Inedible parts are fed to the chickens."

So your chickens are cannibals?!!!!?

bspinner said...

Very yummy looking. I never added lemon or any acid buy will try that next time I make some.

Leigh said...

Serenity, you caught that! They love meat and fat scraps (and worms and grubs and bugs). They just don't know they're eating chicken!

BTW, I've been trying to leave comments on your Refine-ista blog, but the "leave a comment" link won't pull up the comment page. :(

Barb, I figure it's a small price for so much more nutrition!

Sharon said...

I sure didn't know about the cold water start - thanks. When we were a poor starving college family with two kids to feed, I'd stretch one chicken into two dinners, freezing the backs and then once a week, I'd take them and all the vegetables scraps from earlier dinners that were in a container in the fridge, and cook them into a soup base. I didn't know what I was doing, only that it made one more meal. We were determined not to accept food stamps!

Judy said...

Just a wild thought, have you thought about drying the bones, crushing them and spreading them on your compost pile or directly on the garden like bone meal?

Leigh said...

Sharon I don't blame you for that! Amazing that even a small amount of meat scraps can make a tasty meal, isn't it?

Judy, that would be something to consider. My biggest fear is stray dogs trying to dig them up. I wonder what it would take to make our own bone meal. Would certainly be beneficial to the garden! Thanks for the visit, comment, and idea. :)

Toni aka irishlas said...

As gross as this may sound, but, the feet make wonderful stock, too. It's a little odd to look at while it cooks, so, if you can get past that you'll be rewarded with flavorful stock.

Leigh said...

Toni, I did hear about that but only after they'd been buried! I didn't realize they could be skinned, which of course doesn't make them seem so dirty. At first, all I could think of was chickens tromping through manure, so it was a relief to hear that it really isn't as bad as all that, LOL.

Robin said...

Leigh thats brilliant. Saving your bones until you can do a big batch, goodness, why didn't I think of that. We will be butchering some of our chickens this year and I would love to make stock out of the bones. I'm always buying the darn stuff so I might as well make my own.