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Homemade Stock Not "Gellied" and ?'s

Hi,
I'm brand new here, so glad I stumbled across this site, I've found alot of useful information so far. This is my first post....
I made chicken stock for the first time and followed the basic recipe. I used everything that was left from several different chickens that had been roasted and eaten by my family. (I don't think I used skins and I know I didn't use giblets.) The rest was normal, carrots, celery, onions, spices, etc....I let it sit overnight in the fridge and in the morning scooped off the fat layer. I expected that to be thicker, but it was about an 1/8" to a 1/4" thick. Don't know if that is normal or not. Anyway, I know it's supposed to be a gel like substance that "melts" when you heat it, mine is just liquid. Is it still good? And why didn't it gel?
My second question is about reducing stock. I would assume that it needs to be "gelled" do it, but is that a good thing? I read somewhere that you could reduced it by half to save room in the freezer, then just add water when using. Is that true? Most recipes don't say anything about it, so I'm sure what to think.
My last question is probably a little stupid, but...When you use homemade stock that you haven't reduced or anything, do you use the actual amount called for in a soup repice, or do you add water?
Thanks so much
Renee

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  1. I have made plenty of batches of stock that didn't "gel" and they were perfectly fine. The amount of gelatin that leaches from the bones and cartilage will determine how well your stock gels. Personally, I don't think stock needs to gel in order to be good. I typically cover my chicken carcasses (plus veggies) with a couple inches of water and simmer away. After straining, I'll use the stock as called for in recipes.

    You can reduce stock (even non-gelled stock) to concentrate it - just boil it until the liquid is reduced by half. Make sure to note this on your packaging so you remember if it needs dilution when using it in recipes.

    If you didn't put chicken skin in the stockpot, that's probably why there wasn't a huge fat layer on top after chillling.

    Taste your stock. Does it taste good to you? Does it taste too watery? If you like it, use it with pride!

    1. The gel comes from gelatin in the bones. Next time, try cracking the bones so the marrow is more exposed. Also, I usually use chicken wings that I buy just for stock, so there are lots of bones, and also the meat adds extra flavor. SOmetimes I roast the wings first for extra color and flavor, and sometimes I just throw them, chopped, with onion, carrot, etc. The stock is still good without it, as long as it tastes good to you.

      I have not reduced my stock before, but I don't see why not. I use homemade stock one for one with canned, but again, if you have a very rich flavored stock, there is nothing wrong with adding water if you want a more subtle flavor for your dish. Congrats on your stock!

      with no flesh and no skin, that's probably why not much fat.

      1. How long did you cook it? After straining, how much stock was there?

        Using scraps from two chickens, a quart of stock sounds about right.

        The amount of fat that collects on top depends on how much chicken fat you put in - mostly from the skin and any roasting drippings.

        Since the strength of your stock can be quite variable, there is no fixed rule regarding its use in soup. I typically use stock from left over chicken straight in soup, without reducing or diluting it. But my soups tend to be chunky, often overloaded with vegetables etc. I adjust salt toward the end of making the soup, not while making the stock. If your soup is too salty the only thing you can do is dilute it (well there is that trick about potatoes ...); if not enough salt, add some.

        The strength and quality of the stock will be more important if it is central ingredient to the soup, such as a simple chicken-noodle.

        paulj

        1. Whenever I've had chicken broth instead of stock (stock gels, broth doesn't) it's because I didn't simmer the chicken long enough. Well, that and you do have to have a certain amount of bones and cartilaginous tissue if you want to make stock instead of broth. The fact that you didn't have much chilled fat to skim off also says your simmering time may have been too short. But it's equally possible your chicken was just too lean. You said you didn't use the skin. Skin has a lot of collagen in it, and that contributes as much to making a stock that gels nicely as bones do.

          You can reduce chicken broth by boiling it down, which will intensify the flavor, but if you want it gelled for some reason such as consomme, then you'll have to add some unflavored gelatin.

          Welcome, and sounds like you're on a great learning track! Seriously! Broth is good!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caroline1

            Broth is made from meat, stock is made from bones.
            And the idea of adding unflavored gelatin to broth or stock is just...wierd.
            I agree the stock probably wasn't simmered long enough though.

          2. I would suggest a slit pig's foot for gel, rather than a powder. Or chicken feet, and wing tips.
            Have a look at Michael Ruhlman's Elements, for a really good discussion on stock, salt, eggs, and sauces.
            If your chicken stock has good flavour and aroma, you might try clarifying it for a consomme. No one does this anymore, so it will grab a lot of attention if it is good.

            6 Replies
            1. re: jayt90

              With the chicken broth on hand and already made, it is much more direct and easier to simply add a predisolved unflavored gelatin to hot broth rather than adding a pig's and/or other chicken parts that may not be available and simmering another hour or two. It's an immediate answer to an immediate problem, *IF* gelling is critical.

              For a means of avoiding the problem in the future, if chicken flavored chicken stock is the goal, it's simpler and more direct to simply start with a whole chicken. A slit (or halved) pig's foot will change the flavor, and if kosher or halal is required, it will emphatically be out of the question.

              1. re: Caroline1

                ATK added some powdered gelatin to their all beef meatloaf, as a substitute for the gelatin that veal is supposed to provide in traditional mixes.
                paulj

                1. re: Caroline1

                  Caroline, thanks for the wisdom! I was searching because I boiled beef stock for about a day & didn't get a gel (only care about this because i'm frustrated that all the nutrients are still in the bones). I did use a half cup of vinegar. I should've left it longer, but since I didn't know this would happen, I was just eager to be DONE with my stove, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I suppose I'll just put it back on the stove with the bones back in until they're soft. I was searching to find out if this was even a feasible option & what I gathered from your post is that -I guess- it can't hurt :-) Thanks :-)

                  1. re: NatalieLawson

                    The substance that makes broths gel is found in connective tissue, knuckles, and some marrow bones. If your goal is to thicken a beef broth and have any sort of ethnic markets in your area, see if you can find some cheap ox tails or beef shanks. They will give you a stock that gels nicely. And they make a great meal to boot. Boil them in the stock, then when they are fall-off-the-bone tender, remove them to a casserole dish, add some chopped fresh or canned tomatoes, carrots, a sliced or choped onion, some herbs of choice (thyme, marjoram, parsley, oregano, whatever), and a little buerre manie (butter mixed with flour that makes the flour lump-proof) and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Pierce the foil in a couple of places to allow steam to escape. Bake/roast in a slow oven (maybe 325 or 350) for about 45 minutes and voila! A big pot of beef stock AND dinner! Serve with potatoes or orzo or rice. Enjoy!

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Even better, a cows foot. Stock from that will glue your lips together.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        And after dinner, if you are reducing the stock, return the bones to the stockpot in case they can still contribute.

                        Many recipes recommend first oiling the bones and roasting them at 400 degrees or more until they are deep brown, then adding the bones and fond to the stockpot. This contributes deeper flavor to the stock. It takes a lot more meat to make a good beef stock than a chicken stock.