It’s official! Thanksgiving is less than a week away! Are you ready? Most everyone loves turkey left-overs but, what do you do with the left-over bones? If you just said, throw them away, then you are missing out on an amazing opportunity to make some really awesome turkey stock! Even though this recipe (printable version at the end of this post) says “chicken stock” it can be used interchangeably with turkey so I thought this would be a good tie-in with the upcoming holiday!
So, tonight I roasted a chicken for dinner. (Check out why I NEVER buy pre-made chicken, plus my easy recipe to roast your own HERE) Now it’s after 10 pm and my chicken stock is simmering away on the stove as I write this. It is literally the easiest thing to make from scratch! (And smells SO amazing!) It’s also one of the very first things I started doing as I began my journey to simple living. (Read more about that HERE)
The photo below is what my chicken bones looked like before.
(It’s the carcass from my roasted chicken, plus some leg bones I had thrown in the freezer from a previous meal.)
Here are some awesome benefits of DIY stock
- Less waste – Not many people eat the tops of celery, but they work perfectly for this. Plus, all the bits of meat that you can’t remove from the bone are not wasted when you use them (and the bones themselves) to flavor a stock.
- Saves money – A quart of high-quality store-bought stock can run you over $4.00. Making it yourself is practically FREE. The cost of the veggies that go in is minimal, especially when you get SO much more than a quart from one chicken.
- SUPER Healthy – The longer your stock simmers, the more the bones will break down allowing for all those amazing immune boosting nutrients to release into your stock. (The trendy term for this is bone broth.)
- Awareness – My favorite reason for any “from scratch” cooking is knowing exactly where your food came from and what’s in it. No secret or surprise ingredients.
- Self-sufficiency – Relying less on commercial products.
Uses for homemade chicken stock
- From scratch Soups and Stews
- Gravy (Check out how I make mine HERE)
- Mashed potatoes (instead of milk)
- As a hot beverage
- Seasoned rice or rice noodles (Cook rice with stock instead of water)
- Use in any recipe that calls for chicken stock or broth
What do I need to make my own stock?
Chicken (or turkey) carcass and/or bones, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, salt and peppercorns (or ground pepper). You will also need a big stock pot and water.
How long does is take?
4-10 hours. The longer it simmers, the more nutrients from the bones will end up in your stock. This is what mine looked like after one hour.
After 4 hours simmering on the stove, I put the whole pot in the refrigerator (so I could go to bed) and then restarted cooking it this morning. Taste your stock often and add salt and pepper as needed. This is what it looked like after 7 hours total. (You can use a crockpot for uninterrupted stock cooking)
When your stock is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the bones and veggies and discard them. Pour through a strainer to make sure all the small bits are removed. Here is my finished product, I put some fresh parsley on top to dress it up a bit.
Tips for freezing your chicken stock
Once you’ve made your stock, let it cool completely before freezing. I store mine in pint sized wide mouth mason jars, always labeled and dated. Leave space at the top because it will expand in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge or put the jar in cold water and it will thaw in a couple of hours.
I also freeze my chicken stock in ice cube trays. I have two trays with lids that I still have from making homemade baby food (when my littles were babes.) It works perfectly for freezing one-ounce cubes. This way, if I only need a small amount for gravy or mashed potatoes, I don’t have to thaw out a whole pint! Once the stock is frozen in the ice cube trays, I transfer the cubes to quart sized mason jars and return to freezer.
There you have it! See I told you it was easy. Now, on Thursday after all the turkey is eaten, make sure you don’t waste those bones! If you don’t have time to make stock right away, put your bones (make sure to label and date them) in the freezer for another day. (Scroll down for the printable chicken stock recipe.) Happy Thanksgiving!
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