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Cloudy Chicken Stock

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How do you make homemade chicken stock without it being cloudy and "jelly-like" when chilled.....?????

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  1. Jelly like when chilled is good in my book - means its nice and gelatinous. Is there a reason you want to avoid this? I try to strain my stock enough so that it's not cloudy, but can't be bothered with clarifying it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Straining with cheesecloth or skimming off the top only removes actual bits of particles (e.g. loose bits of meat, cooked blood, etc.). To make a clear stock, simmer the liquid very, very gently on low heat but whatever you do, DO NOT let the stock come to a boil. Boiling produces an opaque stock.

      Hope this helps!

      1. re: DishyDiva

        I agree with MMRuth and DishyDiva. Gelatinous is good and dissolves when re-heated. Stocks get cloudy because of boiling! Always simmer nice and slow. For extra flavor I add ginger, carrots and onions and any other meat bones I might have lying around. Fuchsia Dunlop calls that Chinese Banquet Stock!

        1. re: scoopG

          Stock made from precooked chicken (leftovers) is supposed to be cloudier than one that starts with raw chicken. Also, skim the scum (albumen) off the top as it accumulates early in the cooking process. Add herbs and diced vegetables (that will float) after skimming.


          1. re: paulj

            That makes sense about the precooked chickens - which is what I use - plus whatever wings/feet I might have on hand. Agree about adding the herbs/vegetables after skimming - a tip I learned from JC.

    2. You don’t want the stock to boil rapidly or the soup will turn out murky and cloudy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: speyerer

        Really? So a low simmer will keep that from happening? Interesting. MMRuth, why is gelatinous chicken stock a good thing? I thought it to be kind of gross, but maybe that's b/c I'm so used to the boxed stocks instead of my own....

        1. re: mmuch

          having a gelatinous stock is desireable. The gelatin in it gives a nice mouth feel and is a sign of a good, rich stock. You can probably clarrify it with some egg whites like one would do with consomme and then strain the whole thing through several layers of cheese cloth.

      2. If egg whites can clarify consomme, perhaps they can clarify stock. Unfortunately you cannot avoid the gelling as homemade stock contains gelatin from the natural breakdown in the bones during the cooking process.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JungMann

          Egg whites don't clarify consomme. Consomme is what you end up with when you clarify stock with egg whites and ground meat.

          Stocks turn cloudy when boiled because boiling causes the fat to emulsify.

        2. To clarify stock for clear soup: In order to remove solid flecks that are too small to be strained out with cheesecloth, combine ¼ cup cold water, 1 egg white, and 1 crushed eggshell. Add to strained stock. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Strain again through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.

          1 Reply
          1. re: speyerer

            I strain my broth through a chinoise (sometimes chinois) an extremely fine meshed conical sieve used for straining soups.
            The chinoise is not to be confused with the "China cap", which is a conical strainer made of perforated metal with larger holes than that of the chinoise.

          2. One of my "goals" is to make perfect bullion, one that is clear and clean.
            Did you see the Iron Chef not too long ago, and Morimoto's sous chef had whipped egg whites and put them on the top of the boiling broth. Then he poured the broth over and over the whites. The little floating particles cling to the egg whites, sort of a filter or catch all. This takes time so within the hour of the show he worked hard at cleaning the broth.
            I happen to find great joy in a cup of clear boullion with a few little fresh enoki, small cut veggies and some tiny cubes of tofu..

            If you don't want to go that radical, I use cheese cloth. When cooking the chicken, I really clean the inside cavity. There left behind in the cavity, are bits of liver, or whatever innards and they will murk the water. Spend some time in there, and clean it well.

            Then I put the chicken in a pot and fill it with cold water, covering it almost, witht the breast above the water. Bring it to a rolling boil, then shut the heat off, let it sit for an hour. It will produce a nice broth. Then I remove the chicken and aromatics. If i use pepper, I use a bag with peppercorns and other things that will lend the flavor I'm aiming for. Remove that. Put the chicken on a plate, and use a sieve to remove the largest pieces of scum, and particles. Then I use am seive lined with fine cheese cloth to strain the broth. I do this twice. I'll cover it, put it in the fridge. When its cold remove the fat that has solidified. Sometimes the murkiness is fat floating.
            I will get a pretty clear broth by doing these steps. Yes my husband thinks I'm a little touched. But its worth it for me, I don't care for cloudy broth either.

            1. I always thought the jelly-like consistency was a good thing, a sign that you had cooked it long enough to get all the flavors out. My daughter always calls it "chicken jello."

              1 Reply
              1. re: shannoninstlouis

                Maybe the OP wants water that the chicken walked through, rather one that it wrestled in. :) Speaking of walking, if you want to minimize the gelatin content, remove the chicken feet before making stock. Conversely, buy extra feet if you want more gelatin.


              2. A gelatinous stock implies lots of good protein. Clarify by simmering and not boiling, straining, and using an egg-white raft (all as others have mentioned).

                11 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Since this thread was resurrected today, thought I'd just pipe in that I did my first clarifying today (many times, actually). I wanted to make aspic, and so made the stock yesterday with calves foot and veal knuckle as well as various other, typical, ingredients. Let it cool, refrigerated overnight and "meticulously" removed all fat on top. Then, I clarified it using E. David's instructions - put one beaten egg white, one crushed egg shell, 1 T of port/cognac, a couple of leaves of tarragon and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Well, it worked wonders ,but was still cloudier than I would have liked, so I repeated with half the stock, remembering this time to actually beat the egg white - second time the broth was almost clear. So, after lunch, I gave the rest of the stock the same treatment.

                  (I did, accidentally, let my stock come to a rolling boil, and I did put in thyme and marjoram sprigs, per E. David.)

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Punching small holes in the raft increases effectiveness.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Can you describe that further - i.e., are you talking about, once the egg whites/shells have risen to the surface, start poking holes in that glop? Thanks.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I whip up the whites and spread that on the surface of the stock. The liquid moves as it simmers and the cloudy bits stick to the raft. I use the shaft end of a wooden spoon to punch maybe 7 - 8 holes in the raft, and find more gunk stuck to the bottom than if there are no holes.

                    2. re: MMRuth

                      omg, I have been working on clear consomme now for how long? I did the raft, and I strained through cheese cloth umpteen times. At the moment I have a chicken thawing, yet again I'll try. I want to make clear chicken consomme, and I am almost there. But I forgot the egg shell, and noticed that when I saw your post!
                      good luck!

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        Ditto to the other recommendations

                        But I missed anyone suggesting to ladle out the stock so as not to disturb the heavier particles at the bottom of the pot. Just another level of obsession.

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        It should be "pain in the aspic", not the "*ss"! ;-D Clarity in a recipe is important to me - in jello, it's more of an affectation. More power to you, but if I'm going to go to a lot of fuss I'll do it if it makes a big difference to taste and texture. Appearance, not so much, other than for a fancy dessert.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          ohhh but in aspics, I too would want it clear, and then again I tend to lean to perfectionist side. oops!

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            That's why I have to hand it to MMRuth, and to you - aspic and consomme, to me, aren't worth the effort.

                        2. re: MMRuth

                          did you take any photos of your stock by chance, I have mine, I'd just like to see how far off I am...

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            No, but I will next time - just as soon as I procure some more feet and knuckles from my butcher. I'm also going to throw in a bunch of chicken feet, which I think will help the flavour. I did notice significant differences between first clarification & second, and then the third one w/ the second half, where I used more egg whites. My actual poached eggs in aspic were a huge disappointed for various reasons (including the amount of work I put into them), but I am going to try again!! I actually made the aspic to make a jellied cold cucumber soup, and I may just make that tomorrow, and then start again to make the eggs in aspic.

                      3. All of the other posters have said what I came here to say, but there's one more tiny thing:

                        Using the leafy portions of herbs/aromatics contributes to cloudiness- only using the pale portions of leeks, the stems from parsley, making a bouquet garni vs. loose herbs, no carrot tops, etc...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lunchbox

                          My feeling is this, I don't thing so. I've made a tremendous amount of chicken stock, and in the last 25 years the leeks, the tops of aromatics boiling loose, well they just are not the culprit. In fact do a test. Boil the things you mentioned, they won't cloud, its the proteins that are boiling and "cooking" that make that mess.
                          Clean the spine of the chicken if you use it, or use scissors to cut it out, that's what I do.....otherwise it will cloud the water. I save it for other uses.
                          It makes great sauces, and gravies, it's just not for clear consomme,

                        2. I agree with what people have said about boiling. There's a very useful article on stock-making here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                          One tip for keeping the stock just under a boil is to put it in a 180-degree oven.

                          1. five things that will help eliminate cloudy. Gelatinous when chilled, you don't want to eliminate. that's part of what makes stock good. 1. use raw chicken( actually I violate this one all the time, as I brown the bones I use for better flavor and color, but if you follow the rest of the rules, this shouldn't really be a problem) 2. low and slow. Don't let the stock boil. If you use a gas range, get a flame tamer/diffuser. 3. skim the scum frequently. 4. don't add the vegetables until you are done with the chicken and dont cook them too long. as they break down, they will start to diffuse into the stock, making it cloudy. 5. make a raft, with egg whites, egg shells and if you really want to go the extra mile, grind up some white meat and mix it into the raft as well. carefully add the raft to the strained stock adn cook at a shimmer(just before a simmer, the liquid will wiggle slightly but no bubbles) and cook for about 15 minutes. If your pot is large enough, you can ladle the stock from around the edge of the raft into the center, and it willfilter even more. If you use all of these steps, you should be able to read through your stock. But it will still be gelatinous when cold.

                            1. To avoid a cloudy stock, make sure to start with cold water. This is crucial.

                              Gelatinous is good, but if you want to avoid it, you have to either remove all bones, cook it for a shorter amount of time, or use more liquid. All three of those result in less flavor. Removing the bones makes it a broth and not a stock, and adding water or cooking it for a shorter amount of time dilutes the flavor.

                              If you want to learn more, you can always read the book "on cooking." It's a textbook (yes, textbook) culinary schools use. Beware though, it's not nearly as fun to read as most cookbooks.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jvLin

                                Thread is 15 months old.

                                Chicken noodle soup recipe in Jan/Feb 2009 Cooks Illustrated has a wasteful, expensive way of making broth with boneless breasts and ground chicken.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Just crazy. You will get broth I'd rather have stock make from bones and scraps of meat. Better depth of flavor and better mouth feel. Yeah I know this is an old thread but if my stock didn't gel, I'd feel like I did something wrong.

                              2. I agree that the gelatin is an excellent development and that boiling produces a cloudier stock. I find that using a slow cooker is great for keeping the stock at an even temp just under the boil and that you can let it steep for 24 hours and get an excellent stock.

                                As for clarifying, if you've got gelatin you can use the thawed frozen technique that produces a really clear stock with next to no effort and great reliability. The downside? It's not quick. But here's a little photo essay I did when I tried it. Wish I'd included the link to the NYT article but perhaps you can google that. http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: rainey

                                  So does the resulting, clarified stock have no gelatin? Does it have less taste or mouth feel?

                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                    Interesting question!

                                    I'm your basic down home cook. So I did it as an experiment. Something that clear doesn't really appeal to me and I'm not planning to do it again.

                                    I must have tasted it at the time but I have no memory whatsoever of it. Probably because I'd already decided it wasn't of more than technical interest to me.

                                    The gelatin IS removed. That's the rubbery disk that's left behind after it's trapped all the particulates in its mesh of protein fibers.

                                2. The trick is definitely to simmer it slowly, never allowing it to boil.
                                  I've made stock with fresh chicken bones, picked over cooked cacasses, and combinations of the two and Chinese restaurant style stock with a combination of chicken, pork, and duck bones and parts. I've never have clouding problems with any of them.
                                  As far as the gelatin issue...I cant 't speak to that because I want that quallity in my stock...its is that very gelatin that gives the stock such a great mouthfeel and it does not add any cloudiness to the stock... I have even _added_ packets of Knox gelatin to the broth to give better texture when using cooked bones. Still comes out crystal bright. That slow simmer is the key...takes longer but well worth it.