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Why Make Chicken Stock?

Is there a practical reason for making one's own chicken stock? Does it actually taste much better than stock soup off the shelf, like this one below?


I understand the logic for making my own pastries and cookies because (1) everyone has slightly different preference and I can always tweat my recipe to my liking (2) there is no comparison between my own fresh bake goods with hours-old bake goods from stores, (3) bragging rights.

Yet, I don't see the same arguments can be made for chicken stock. Someone please enlighten me. Thanks.

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  1. I've never tasted a packaged stock that was anywhere near as good as homemade. Plus, you can make it from leftovers (if you don't ever buy a whole chicken, you can save leftover scraps and bones in the freezer until you have enough to make stock) and it costs next to nothing.

    1. It is not just taste it is mouth feel. Home made will have that gelatinous lip licking feel. Also every packaged one I ever had has a chemical aftertaste. I would rather use water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: torty


        Oh yeah. Now that you mentioned it. Yes, I remember. that gelatinous feel.

      2. I make it mostly because my upbringing makes it almost physically painful to throw away anything that still has use in it, especially food. Few things exasperate me more than to see a recipe that tells us to discard backs, wings, necks or whatever - no, you either pack them away in ziplocks and freeze them for stock-making, or you cook and eat them and THEN freeze the remains. When we lived in Nashville, chicken was our main source of protein, and I constantly had a crock-pot full of bird detritus simmering overnight; Mrs. O referred to this as our shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Broth.

        Another good reason is that although I do buy the occasional can or box of Swanson's or whatever, there's something to be said for rolling your own when you get the chance, and having a nice bag or two of homemade stock cubes in the freezer for some quick soup. It's that thrifty thing again...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          I usually do the same with vegetable parts as well. I have a big ziploc in the freezer that I store vegetable parts others would throw out, like asparagus and broccoli stalks, onion ends, carrot tops, etc. Once I have enough I make a vegetable stock, or if I have some bones, I might simmer those first for a few hours and then add the vegetables for the last hour. That makes a very good tasting broth.

          1. re: MVNYC

            I've been toying with the idea to save vegetable trimmings. The thing that keeps me from doing it is the lack of freezer space occupied by bones.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              If b/c of space restriction you can only keep a limited amount of veg trimmings, I recommend keeping your leek tops and herb stems. I just chuck them into the bag with the bones - every batch tastes a bit different. There's a lot of flavour in this skinny rosemary and thyme stems.

              1. re: cinnamon girl

                Thanks for the tip cg. I do feel guilty tossing those multitude veg trimmings. I once did composting but that was just too big of a PIA for me to continue.

        2. For the last year or so I've been making chicken stock in the slow cooker (I let it go for at least eight hours) and it's taken it to a higher level. I can and do eat spoonful after spoonful in its pure state. There's just no comparison. I'll admit that I don't use the homemade when it's a dish that's got a whole lot already going on flavor wise. I never have ALL that much on hand and really like to save it for when it will shine.

          12 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            This sounds good, C.
            Makes me wish I had a bigger freezer.

            Can I ask if, say you made a roast chicken, do you cook it all, or cut of say, the wings before it goes in?
            And say you have a whole carcass? That will never fit in my freezer. Smash it up somehow?

            1. re: Soop

              I only make stock using a whole, uncooked chicken. That makes some people crazy that I'm "wasting" it but that's what I do. My grocery had chickens for $0.77/# the other day and I found the smallest one. Removed the liver and put everything else into the slow cooker with water only. Once the internal temp of the breast meat reaches 160 (about three hours for me), I remove the breast meat and cook on for at least a total of eight hours. I don't have room in my freezer for carcasses either. The stock goes into zipping bags in one and two cup portions.

              1. re: c oliver

                Does it work out as cheap as regular stock?
                And you throw away the meat? It sounds like the start of a chicken stew to me!

                1. re: Soop

                  I keep the breast meat. The rest I pick off and feed to the dogs over a week or more. I got about three quarts of stock plus two beautifully poached breasts so I consider it economically sound. But I do it for the flavor not the cost. There's NO comparison. And though others on CH strongly disagree with me, the rest of that chicken that has cooked for eight or more hours has no flavor and the texture it does have is not a good texture. I try not to use an inferior main ingredient in something. This is just the way I and some others do it. There's room for many techniques --- or else why have CH, right?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    True that. Well next time I see a cheap chicken, I'll think of you and your stock and try it out.

                    (I love the reduced section, I got me a pousin for 10p a few weeks back).

                    1. re: Soop

                      Wow, I'm so flattered. Thinking of me when you see a cheap chicken :) 10p? Wow, that IS cheap. I remember visiting St. Andrews about ten or more years ago and they charged 10p to pee!

                      We refer to it as "brown meat" (the reduced section) and never leave without giving it a look-see.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          We call it the "Used Meat Department", and I frequent it religiously.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I'm a little more frugal. Or maybe I just don't love my dogs as much as you do - I want that thigh meat for myself.

                        Rather than just taking the breasts, I remove the entire chicken once it's cooked, let it cool a bit, and then pick off as much meat as possible. That goes for chicken salad, enchiladas, chicken & dumplings, whatever.

                        The bones and other solids go back into the pot to cook until they nearly fall apart, then they get mashed up and fed to the dogs.

                        So we eat all the meat from a poached chicken, and the only added cost for the stock is the electricity required to cook it for a few hours. Knock off the reduced cost of buying less dog food, and it's a bargain all around.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Well, *I* definitely love my dogs more than you love yours :) But I actually got to thinking along these lines with the last chicken. It was a plumper bird and when I pulled it out to remove the breast meat, I did consider removing the drumsticks. But didn't. Maybe before I take that step, we'll have to have blind taste test of our respective stocks :)

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I couldn't bear to part with the thigh and leg meat..that's the best part!

                  2. re: Soop

                    Soop - a couple of stock batches ago, I was getting low on freezer space so I reduced a huge pot down to a demiglace (following Jacque Pepin's instructions) and then froze them in ice cube trays, individually wrapped them in foil and then put in a freezer bag. So while I couldn't use them for a big pot of soup, I do have instant flavour at my finger tips.

                2. 1) foodie argument--storebought chx stock is an inferior substitute to homemade, (gelatinous) homemade is infinitely better. homemade chx stock soups are ambrosial and restorative.

                  2) cheapskate/green argument--it is thrifty to use necks, feet, and leftover carcass for this purpose, saves money, helps you use the whole animal, is more "green" than discarding perfectly lovely nourishing bones/carcass, etc.

                  3) lazy cook argument--it's so easy and mindless to pop out some chx stock from leftovers while doing other cooking. it takes less than 5-10 minutes of real labor, including hand-washing the stock pot afterward, and the whole house smells wonderful. you can also package & freeze the result in whatever easy-to-use size is convenient for you to use.

                  4) wussy public transit/5th floor walkup argument--it saves you from breaking your back schlepping boxes or cans of storebought chx stock for a recipe. and again, sometimes buying a whole chicken or a pre-roasted one is cheaper (and lighter) than the cans and the result will be better, so. . .

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: soupkitten


                    Thanks. I agree and can agree most of your points, except the green part. It is much more efficient to make >100L of chicken stock in a huge tank in a factory, than have individuals to make 1-4L of chicken stock on stovetop.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Apples and oranges! :)

                      I take your point about the *energy* efficiency of large batches, but you also have to factor in the environmental impact of things like 1) the waste stream from discarding perfectly usable chicken parts, 2) the often wasteful (and non-recyclable, in the case of aseptic/tetra-pack boxes) packaging of store-bought broths and stocks, 3) fossil fuel impact of shipping to the store, 4) the factory farm at the front end of most broth, etc. Not all of those will apply in every case but they certainly *can* -- which makes it much more complex than big batch vs. small batch.

                      Ultimately, for me, the #1 reason to make homemade stock is the superiority of the final product. It just blows store-bought "stock" away -- really, IMO, there's just no comparison. Reason #2 would be the allure of using scraps to make something useful. Guess my grandma would be proud! :)

                      1. re: LauraGrace


                        Currently I am leaning toward c_oliver opinion. I think I should make it clear that I do believe home made chicken stock is better, but does this really make real difference at the end because stock is usually one of the many ingredients for the final products. For example, I find certain cream cheese brand tastes slightly better than others and this make a real difference when I spread it on my bagels, but I usually cannot tell the difference when I use the butter for making cookies. What do you think?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Ah, I see what you're saying, Chem! Yes, I do think the homemade stock is so good that it deserves to be in a recipe where it really shines. Typically I will use either homemade stock or water -- for instance, I prefer water in risotto in most cases.

                          But even in more highly-flavored stuff where stock isn't the star of the show, I still can't bring myself to buy boxed broth, but that's more because I'm a cheapskate than because I'm a food snob -- I can't bear to spend money on things I can make myself. I truthfully use store-bought broth once or twice a year (like at Thanksgiving when there's not enough homemade, or if I'm making a giant vat of soup for a crowd), whereas I try always to have containers of homemade stock in my freezer -- I make it a gallon at a time and try to do so about once a month.

                          1. re: LauraGrace

                            I need to discipline myself to make stock more often and then I wouldn't feel miserly about it. I DO consider it just about the MOST frugal thing when can make. Practically no waste. Recently I need just about a cup of stock (can't remember for what) and didn't have any canned but I did have a small amount of turkey stock in a ziplok. Thawed in the MW and I was good to go.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I use both -- homemade when I have it and boxed (I'm very picky about my boxed, after trying a bunch of them I only use Pacific Naturals organic, not because it's organic but because it tastes better -- I buy it at Costco where it's relatively inexpensive) when I don't. I find that it does make a difference, even in the soups I make, which are always blended. Think about it: there's more stock than anything else in soup, so better stock is going to mean better soup with more depth of flavor and a richer mouthfeel.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          1-4L? Not happening here! Since I got over my fear of the pressure canner stocks of all kinds are on my shelves! Friends and neighbors save me their holiday bones and carcasses because they know of my post-holidays stock making frenzy. Our immediate neighbor even saves their veg scraps for me because she knows they'll go in the stock pot or (if I'm overwhelmed) in our compost. Currently I have one whole cupboard, top to bottom with 1/2 pints, pints and quarts of chicken, beef, ham, fish and veggie stock. In return for the ingredient bounty we host several soup nights every winter for the folks living on our short rural road. A huge pot of soup, several loaves of homemade bread, an immense salad from our winter garden, and berries or fruit preserved from summer for dessert. A bounty of stocks that cost me really only labor has a full return in flavor, nutrition, and a happy, neighborly, little community.

                          Seriously folks, if you have a pressure canner/cooker hiding in your closet bring it out and dust it off or invest in one. Free up valuable real estate in your freezer! Not to mention that having pressure canned soups, meats, and meals on hand beats the hell outta Campbells any day!

                          1. re: morwen

                            morwen, you are my hero for today.

                      2. I save all types of meat trimmings and bones in the freezer. With a pressure cooker I can make stock on demand which will immediately be used in a soup or stew. Takes about an hour and I don't have to hang around and skim or fuss with it during that time. Some how I would never have those boxes of broth on hand when I had a spur of the moment whim for soup.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          I do the same thing. Some of my best stocks come from mixing up the bones and making a meat stock that has (usually) chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, and beef. Obviously some soups need a certain kind of meat broth, but the soups I make are more nonspecific in nature. i adjust it until it tastes like I want it to.

                          Also, if I'm going to make chicken stock, I'll cook a chicken in boxed stock with addede water and chicken boullion added. Haven't had a complaint yet, and the 'faker bullion' is somewhat diluted by the real stock, and by all accounts it's pretty g-d- good.

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            My trick, too, especially leading up to the Major Holidaze season. I sorta panic and use the coupons that always come out then for a couple boxes of Swanson's - I think just about the least annoying commercial one - and then wind up cooking carcasses and giblets in that. BEST YET: defaulted to ham for New Year's, cooked bones in two-generation (Swanson's + bird parts) broth, and got the most bodacious jellied stuff imaginable, short of glace de viande. Jellies at room temp. Delicious, too.

                        2. Compared to even the simplest home-made slow-cooker chicken stock, canned is a poor substitute.

                          I know how easy it can be: bake a whole chicken for my family, bones and skin go in the slow cooker with a carrot, an onion and a stalk of celery, fill with water (you can get 3/4 gallon from a chicken) and cook on low 12 hours or so. Then use a simple Chinese wire strainer on a handle to remove the solids (cooked so thoroughly that even the bones go down the disposal without any problem), line a colander with a couple of paper towels and strain out most of the remaining debris, cool and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you can remove the very little solidified fat from the top, and portion into freezing containers.

                          The result: unctuous, all the gelatin is extracted into the stock, and even me (with my old and weak sense of taste) can clearly taste the difference in soups, Chinese food, anything else I use it in. Best of all, it's practically free!

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: wayne keyser

                            I have something even easier and, to my mind, even better (I've posted this here before). Take a whole, small, cheap chicken. Put it in the slow cooker and cover with water. Cook until the breast meat registers 160. For me that takes two to three hours. Take the chicken out and remove the breast meat.. Back into the slow cooker and let it go at least another six hours. As you describe, it will completely disintegrate. THAT stock will taste of nothing but chicken and then you can add flavorings depending on what you use it for. I get about a gallon and a half out of that. Plus all the breast meat. About $3 when chickens are on sale. Can't be that in the market.

                            1. re: c oliver


                              Oh, so you use pretty much the entire chicken for stock, right?

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I don't put the giblets in but, yes, the whole chicken. I think I first read about not using just the carcass in CI. And they described the detritus as just that, having given its all to to the stock. But perhaps here I got the idea of removing the breast meat for other purposes. I DO pull some of the remaining chicken off for the dogs but that bird has definitely given me $3 worth of joy :)

                                Edit: I did use my turkey carcass for stock. So I wouldn't throw it out. We do our turkeys on the Weber and it's pretty flavorful so I have it labeled differently cause I wouldn't use it for anything too mild in flavor.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  When you make it that way, you're very wise to take the breasts out as soon as they're cooked. They give comparatively nothing to the stock, but are so delicious poached, except that they won't be salted at all as you would if poaching them by themselves.

                                  Still, poached white meat chicken is one of the most underrated preparations, in my opinion. We're all so sick of bad grilled chicken breast that I know I forget how wonderful the cut can be.

                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                    Absolutely. I made stock yesterday and we had some of that breast meat on a sandwich today. It's THE moistest.

                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  The only parts of a typical cleaned bird you don't want are organs that get bitter with long simmering: the liver and kidneys (be sure to check the inside pockets of the back bones to pluck out the kidneys - they are very frequently left in, and lead to bitterness). The gizzards, however, go in the stock.

                                  If you can get them (cheaply at Asian markets, for example), add chicken feet. They are the sine qua non for the best stock.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    absolutely, gizzards, heart and neck, all part of the little package left inside the bird are excellent additions to stock

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      Gizzards in my house get poached and devoured by me.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        No one gets the gizzards or heart -- it belongs to the cook to do with as s/he please and for this cook it pleases me to saute them and eat them.

                                3. re: wayne keyser


                                  Thanks. Except I usually consume the skin, so most of the skin will never make it into the stock. I don't know. I just love that crispy bake chicken skin. Heh heh heh.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I don't make stock with chicken htat will be eaten. Only the waste goes into stock. Bones, backs, wing tips and giblets

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      "Waste"? Backs and giblets? Wingtips? Mrs. O and I fight for possession of the first two, and I concede the wingtips to her. When she gets done with the back there's no meat left but the kidneys, which I get.

                                      Gizzards and backs I will buy for stock if I'm gonna make gumbo, and I cook the parts just until the meat is done, because it will be added. I should also mention that old-fashioned recipes for baked chicken call for the bird to be simmered until tender, then baked, and the stock used both to make gravy and for future soup. The chickens thus treated of course were the well-exercised barnyard fowl you simply cannot get in this country anymore - treat a supermarket bird like that and you'll get flavorless chicken and flavorless broth.

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        I guess when I cut a back out it is maybe only an inch wide so there is very little meat on it. The oysters are still attached to the thighs. I'll eat wingtips if fried and crispy but no one is fighting over them at our house so they would be waste. I have to admit to eating the hearts and gizzards after I've strained the stock.

                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                          So we cut differently. I cut the spine out if I'm going to spatchcock the bird, but if I'm cutting it to fry or carving it everything all the extremities are removed strictly at the joint. I do not like to eat thighs that have some pelvis attached; I used to think this was some weirdness practiced only by Col. Sanders, but now I find it's universal among the purveyors of fast-food chicken.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            I spatchcock a lot when smoking or grilling a bird.

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              Stupid question perhaps and not trying to hijack but what's the difference between spatchcock and butterfly? I've been doing the latter to turkeys prior to grilling for over 20 years but only recently heard the former term.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I think there maybe some technical differences but they are pretty much the same. Cut out the back bone and pull out the breast bone is what I do. I also like to cut a hole in the skin by the thigh to tuck the leg bone into to hold it all nice and tight. I'd post a pick but the browse function has been inactive for me on Chow. Anyone else having that problem?

                                4. I started making home made stock about a year ago and now I'm almost obsessed with it.

                                  I never go out and buy ingredients for stock, it's all made using things that otherwise would have been thrown away. Like others have mentioned, I keep a "stock-pile" in the freezer of things that are good for stock that otherwise would have been trash.

                                  This weekend I made a declicious stock with the following:
                                  Bones from:
                                  Pork shoulder
                                  T-Bone Steak

                                  And come carrots and celery that were going bad, plus a couple onions, and a freezer burned piece of ground beef.

                                  And all this cost essentially nothing!

                                  1. Home made really is better. There are numerous way to produce your own stock. If you find a way that works for you and is easy for you to do, then you are on your way. You can control the salt in your own stock. And you can load it with veggies for more nutrients. And it will have a different mouth feel, which will improve anything you add it too.

                                    1. I love making stock. For me it is pure therapy. Plus it makes my home smell so homey.
                                      Two reasons good enough to keep my freezer stocked.

                                      1. There's no comparison between homemade broth and the canned stuff. It's a running joke in my house that any and all chicken bones and scraps go into the freezer bag and once my current broth stash is used up out comes the stockpot. The house smells great and it pleases my inner domestic goddess. Soups and sauces are fantastic with homemade broth.

                                        1. I've not read all of the responses (well, any of them for that matter). I've been making my own chicken stock for about six years now, in part to make more use of the expensive chickens that I roast. While I do use Better Than Boullion (sp?) on occasion, when I use my own chicken stock, the results are usually better. This weekend, for the first time, I've made my own beef stock, and I think doing that is even more worthwhile, as I really dislike purchased beef broth/stock - even the BTB one, though I use it in a pinch.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            MMR, would you please start a thread on making beef stock? I'm interested in doing it but would like plenty of guidance. Thanks if you do.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Well, clearly I'm no expert, but I'll start a thread in the a.m. about what I did, so we can get more tips!

                                          2. 1. Because it's better than canned stock.

                                            2. Because it's cheaper than canned stock.

                                            3. Because the well-cooked bones, flesh, and veggies can be mixed into a paste with leftover rice and fed to the dogs for absolutely zero waste.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Yes, the dog loves stock-making day!

                                            2. This is EASY: In slow-cooker put 4 chicken leg-thigh pieces, 2 ribs celery cut up, 1 onion cut up, 2 tsp salt. Fill with water to within 1 inch of top. Cook all night on LOW. In morning, put colander in large mixing bowl. Set in sink. Pour stock, bones et all into colander. Strain stock into bowl. You may then do anything you like with it. Why not just open a carton? Because homemade stock tastes better. No comparison.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                If you omit the celery, onion and salt, you will have pure chicken flavor that you can then flavor for the specific dish you're making. I've only come to this "party" recently and, boy, is it good!

                                              2. This is clearly a question with an (almost) unanimous answer. In addition to agreeing to pretty much all of the points here, I also recently read that the gelatin from bones that go into the stock helps your body absorb the other nutrients better, and therefore helping especially with those who are sick and need a boost.

                                                I actually make so much chicken soup that I often need to go to my butchers to get extra carcasses, and they are almost for free thanks to the other people who don't make their own chicken stock :-)

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                  Well, you are lucky indeed. I needed chicken parts, i.e., feet, backs, necks, for an Asian broth. None of our local groceries had them, everything comes pre-cut. I even went to WF in Reno which is 50 miles away. The best I could do was one tiny pack of necks. Finally substituted a turkey wing. This frustrates me enormously.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    Ethnic markets are more likely to have them. I just googled and there's at least one Asian market and Reno, and there are probably some Mexican markets (I'm just guessing that somewhere within 50 miles of Reno there's enough of a Mexican population to support a market) closer to you that would have chicken parts suitable for stock.

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      Ya know, Ruth, I'd have guessed the same thing but I was wrong. The Asian market in Reno is GREAT. I went there for the first time the other day just for that reason (well, not JUST!). No chicken parts at all. Everything else under the sun but no chicken parts. There are a number of Mexican markets but I hadn't thought of them for chicken, more for pork. I can buy all manner of pork products at the Safeway here at the lake but not the chicken. There's a favorite little Mexican market here that also serves food. I hadn't thought to check them out. Now that I think of it, surely they're not using boneless, skinless breast and thighs for their chicken dishes :) Thanks for opening my mind. And I WILL be going back to the Asian market. It was just Chinese. Many wild and wonderful things - even two different sizes of octopus.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Any place that breaks down its own chickens (as opposed to getting them pre-packed from the distributor) should have parts, but you might have to ask for them.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Unfortunately here around the lake, we've just got Safeway, Savemart and Raleys. But I need to do some research for Truckee which is only about 20 miles away and a great place to go for lunch :)

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            I should have reported back. From the checking I've done, there are NO markets in Reno or Lake Tahoe that cut up their own chickens. None. It makes me crazy. This summer I'm going to get out into the "country" and see what I can find.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              What about a butcher that processes for ranches and small farms? The one that we picked up our lamb at had boards with all kinds of things like marrow bones for sale.

                                                              1. re: just_M

                                                                I found one but he doesn't do chickens. This has become my mission :)

                                                          2. re: c oliver

                                                            Yes, that is surprising there are no "alternative" chicken parts in a Chinese supermarket, given that chicken soup is such an integral part of Chinese home cooking. Maybe there's not enough demand for them or they all got taken by the local dimsum restaurants? The feet, even though considered by most as the filthiest part of the chicken (and they are), give so much body to the broth.

                                                            I agree with the other poster that it helps to track down the source to help with the chance of finding your chicken parts. The carcass I mentioned that I could get from the butcher actually only consists mostly of the neck and the back, no feet either, curiously. I know I could probably get the feet at the Chinese supermarkets (there are many around here) but so far I was hoping to track down the ones that are more naturally raised. I have actually gone as far as leaving my number at a few of the better butchers, and asking them to call me back if they find can a supply. Maybe you can try the same at WH or other places that tend to give good service.

                                                            1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                              I'm reading Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and, at least at this particular artisanal farm, the head and the feet are removed at the time of slaughter. Obviously there's SOME market for them but your basic grocery store likely isn't getting them in with feet as part of the package. Not even my Whole Foods.

                                                              1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                                "Yes, that is surprising there are no "alternative" chicken parts in a Chinese supermarket, given that chicken soup is such an integral part of Chinese home cooking." Surprises the heck out of me, because nearly all of the San Gabriel Valley Asian markets (and there are dozens of them!) have extensive offerings of chicken parts, including feet. Trays of wings, gizzards, hearts... Whole-body chickens, including the black ones favored by the Vietnamese, come with head and feet if you want, precisely because soup is the commonest use for them. Whole-body chickens (pollo entero) are on sale at most major Latino markets, too.

                                                      2. because it's one of those things that makes selling your house easier ! (that and apple pies)

                                                        1. 1. It tastes better (esp as a soup base)
                                                          2. I control the salt (ie. none in the stock so I know my starting point when I cook) and fat content (I like a bit of fat in my stock).
                                                          3. It is part of the education for our kids that making from scratch is usually (even if not always) the best way.
                                                          4. Our house smells great when we make it.
                                                          5. It is a good use of something you would otherwise through away.
                                                          6. We just love to cook waaay more than snapping open a can or box.

                                                          1. No question that homemade is better. As well as freezing cooked bones (and I throw in duck and sometimes the odd beef bone to the chicken bones) I buy everything bone-in. So I'll get a bunch of chicken thighs, bone them, freeze what i'm not using for future and put the bones in with the "cooked bones". (Provided I'm making something that needs boned thighs.) Why pay for someone else to have your bones? lol . . . Also, you'd be surprised how quickly your knife skills improve.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                              Hey hey hey. Slow down. Criticize my stock making skill as you like, but don't touch my knife skill. My knife skill is all I have :P

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                And I'm sure your knife skills are a whole lot better than mine! Nor would I ever cast aspersions on your stock making skills :-)

                                                              2. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                Cg, I just bought two large packs of skin on bone in thighs for .79 cents/lb. About a dozen per pack. I usually bone them straight away and freeze the meat on trays then transfer to zip freezer bags. Bones of course go to stock bags. Chicken thighs are about the best poultry value.

                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  I so agree Scubadoo. And the bones from uncooked meat just give that much more chickeny goodness to a stock. It seems silly to pay more (for deboned) and get less. Maybe if they gave you the bones as well . . . and you were in a real rush . . .

                                                              3. Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions.

                                                                1. Because I've never seen Roasted Chicken Stock in a store. Start by putting the bones in a roasting pan, setting the oven to 450 and roasting the bones for 30 minutes. Then taking them out, turning them and putting in 3 carrots, halved, and 2 onions halved, stuck with 2 whole cloves and roast for another 30 minutes, turning twice. Then put all that in a stock pot, with a stalk of celery, halved, peppercorns, thyme, bay leave, salt and about 16 cups of water. I've never gone back to "regular" chicken stock since the first time I made this.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                    Or just add the celery, herbs and water to the roasting pan, cover and put back in the oven @ 200 until the bones are falling apart. I also do this with the carcass after roasting a chicken.

                                                                    1. re: just_M

                                                                      That may work for you, but there's no way I'm going to try moving around that much water in a roasting pan! Point-in-fact, the roasting pan I use for the chicken is over 40 years old and I don't think there's any way to get 16 cups of water in it. That's the only thing I use that pan for - every other thing that I roast goes in a much larger pan. And, yes, I'm too old and set in my ways to change!

                                                                  2. 1. Because.
                                                                    2. Why not?

                                                                    1. Here's a completely new reason no one else has given!

                                                                      My dad has a really bad reaction to anything containing MSG (or any of the "other" names like hydrolized protean, yeast extract, etc that it can masquerade under)

                                                                      Almost all of the commercially available products have one of those additives. With home made stock we get thebest flavor and avoid the aftereffects.

                                                                      1. Ok, time to send most of you into a tizzy.

                                                                        I roast a chicken about twice a decade. I'm probably not going to be poaching a whole chicken anytime soon. Maybe I could or should do either or both, but it's just not likely.

                                                                        I do occasionally buy rotisserie supermarket chicken, and I do buy KFC (or whoever's) fried chicken. Any reason not to use those bones?

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                          Dunno about KFC, but you can certainly use the bones and scraps from a rotisserie chicken to make a decent stock.

                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                            And the guests, after eating, dunno when I reserve their leftover bones for freezing, knowing they will be "cleansed" to safety with simmering.

                                                                            It can be a therapeutic moment when you pull the stock bag from the freezer and lay in with the Chinese cleaver to leave no bone unfractured, then to the roaster then the stockpot.

                                                                            Chopped roasted bones to stock pot equals reverse osteoporosis.

                                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                              KFC or other fried chicken bones are fine, from personal experience. Once the meat's eaten off, the bones aren't really any different than roasted chicken bones.

                                                                              And I'm definitely not above using guests' bones. My most shameful bone salvaging moment was when my stepson got carried away cleaning up from his meal and threw out a whole cornish hen carcass-I had just replaced the garbage bag that afternoon so I knew nothing was festering, and I snatched that puppy right back out of the trash. I figure if it's going to cook for several hours, any nasties will probably be cooked out. No one died, so I guess I was right.

                                                                              1. re: ErnieD

                                                                                That's different - I've never put a puppy into my stock - does it have a "bite" to it when it's finished? ;-))

                                                                        2. I'm afraid I'm pretty ghetto...I actually prefer canned stock. Even when I make homemade, I end up diluting it with canned because I like the flavor. *hangs head in shame*

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: wildehare

                                                                            I think you might be missing the scandalous, yet delicious MSG ;->

                                                                          2. Well, I didn't read every post, but I did read many, and I didn't notice anyone mentioning skimming the soup as it starts in to boil and every 1o-15 min thereafter for the first hour. That scum that rises in the first boil will make your stock bitter. But then again, I love cooking, so I don't mind pouring way too much tlc into my stock.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: mshumi

                                                                              I never skim and my stock is never bitter. My stock has nothing but chicken in it; maybe that's the difference.

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                I use it all, never skim and no bitterness. But then again I never boil the stock either.

                                                                                1. re: just_M

                                                                                  Oh, right. I make stock in my slow cooker. No boiling either.

                                                                              2. re: mshumi

                                                                                Bitter? Not so sure. The stuff is pretty much pure protein.

                                                                                If you don't skim, and if you let the stock come to a boil, it will definitely be cloudy. If you want to make poached eggs in a crystal-clear aspic, diligent skimming is required. But in my experience it doesn't have a huge effect on flavor.

                                                                              3. We don't have any good commercial stocks here. Even if we did, mine would be far better. I don't use raw chickens or chicken pieces, The meat and skin contribute little to what I want in a stock. I save the frames and bones from roasted chickens or from poached pieces. They get added to heads, feet (most importan to all), and necks.

                                                                                I skim, maintain all at a low simmer, and clarify. I want and get a chicken-y, highly concentrated super gelatinous, clear, clean base for use in sauces and soups - in preparations that range from different types of Asian to French.

                                                                                And chickens ARE very expensive and meat should not be wasted: expensive here in Colombia in terms of purchase price and even more expensive in the US - in spite of your purchase price being next to nothing - in terms of environmental costs and considering costs of maize subsidies.

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  Right, but exactly how environmental is it to turn the range/burner on for hours.

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    Natural gas produced in Colombia, lowest of levels for 1.5 hours. Start with and maintain enough water to just cover ingredients for up to an hour - first bringing to heat and then using lowest gas level; then 30 minutes at a slightly higher simmer for further reduction and providing time for clarification.

                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                      I think that was the point which I got confused. Is it more environmentally friend to ship chicken to everyone and have everyone to make chicken stock or is it more environmental to make chicken stock in the factory in one big brewer and then ship the stock to everyone. I think the latter is actually more environmental.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        I'd look forward to your developing the algorithm that puts this stock issue in perspective. It could include all kilocalorie inputs from production to packaging and distribution, and also quantify that elusive "taste" and "collagen content mouthfeel" that home stock makers strive for.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          Um, no.

                                                                                          First off, there are no shipping costs inherent with homemade stock. Most of the posters here use the meat from the birds they're cooking. Assuming that they'd be eating those chickens anyway, the incremental cost of getting them to the consumer is precisely zero. Contrast this with commercial stock, where tetrapacks have to be loaded on trains or trucks and shipped all over the country.

                                                                                          Second, there's no evidence that a commercial boiler is any more efficient than a home stove. If the home cook is using an induction cooktop and a pressure cooker, it's a fair bet the process is much **more** efficient than in a big cannery. And while various people use various methods, none of them are particularly power-intensive. (For example, a crock pot set on low draws about 75 watts.)

                                                                                          Finally, while you acknowledge in passing that commercial stock must be shipped, you ignore the fact that it must also be packaged, with attendant environmental impact. Those tetrapacks use energy and other resources to make, and consume landfill space once they're discarded.

                                                                                          All in all, the environmental balance tips pretty hard toward making stock at home. More significantly, though, the end product is far superior.

                                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        Get a pressure cooker if you don't have one. Stock in an hour that is more gelatinous than you can believe. Just fantastic