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Feb 8, 2010 01:24 PM

My Stocks are Not Gelatinous

What am I doing wrong?

Chicken stock is supposed to be gelatinous when it's cold from all of those boiled bones.

Well, mine isn't.

I made my stocks from stuff I save up from roasting chickens. I usually split roast them, so I save the spines that I cut out. I save the carcasses I slice the meat off of. I save the wing tips. I stash it in the freezer and when I have a large bag full, I cover them with water, add some old veggies, and bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and simmer it for a good two hours.

My stocks don't taste bad, but they lack that gelatinous quality. They're more like commercial stocks. With the last batch of stock I made, I added the pan drippings from the last chicken I roasted. I separated the fat out from those drippings and ended up with a gelatinous substance, but even adding that to my stock didn't yield a thicker stock.

Should I ever care? If my stock tastes good, does it need to be gelatinous? I make a lot of blended soups where the stock is not a star player.

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  1. 2 hours is not enough to extract all the wonderful gelatin from the bones. Do you have a slow cooker? My most favorite-est ever stock making method (learned here on chowhound) is to put all the goodness into the stock pot, cover with water, turn on and leave overnight. In the morning, you will have a wonderful smelling house and a gorgeous stock that will gel right up in the fridge.

    It's also possible that your ratio of water to carcass is too high. How much water do you use vs. chicken parts?

    Also, are you expecting your stock to be gelatinous when hot? While a good stock does have a richer mouthfeel when hot, it is certainly just as liquid as a commercial broth.

    7 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Oh, and finally, if your stock tastes good, then in the end it doesn't matter whether it's gelatinous or not!

      1. re: TorontoJo

        I always use just enough water to cover my assortment of carcass pieces.

        Really? More than 2 hours? I've had people tell me 90 minutes is all you need. I've never heard anyone say more than 2 hours, but I'll give it a shot.

        Then again, my stocks taste pretty good anyway,.

        1. re: Avalondaughter

          I do a slow simmer for at least 4 hrs and always get a gelatinous stock.

          1. re: King of Northern Blvd

            I used turkey wings from a large turkey. Cut the wings from the defrosted turkey and together with the innards and vegetables, I was able to get a gelatinous stock within 2 hours.

          2. re: Avalondaughter

            Try to simmer to reduce the quantity by half. That might gel your stock.

            1. re: Avalondaughter

              Yeah, if it tastes good I wouldn't stress about it, but I let mine go overnight as well, and my stocks are always gelatinous.

              1. re: Avalondaughter

                Agreed with the others here. Two hours is not long enough for a rich, full bodied stock. Try at least four hours.

          3. What brand of chickens are they? Some people report that chickens like Tyson chickens are poor in the gelatin dept. While meat-based broths can be made in 2 hours, bone-based stocks benefit from much longer simmering unless you use a pressure cooker (which I do and recommend).

            Try to save all the leftover bones you can, rather than trashing them. The best parts are backs, necks, wings and feet. (If you have an Asian market near you, get a back of chicken feet).

            1. One reason that your stock is not gelatinous is that you are using bones from cooked chickens. In order to get that gelatinous quality, you need for the major part of the bones in your mix to be raw. And you need to cook them longer. I cook mine for 6 hours, using all raw bones. The result is nicely gelatinous. But if your stock tastes good to you as it is, that's what is important. For soups, that gelatinous quality doesn't matter so much. For a sauce reduction, it does matter.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jmnewel

                I get tons of gelatin (and good flavor, perhaps surprisingly) from cooked bones only in my pressure cooker.

                1. re: jmnewel

                  I don't think the OP meant that she used bones from cooked meat; she indicated that she saved the bones from the meat split prior to roasting and bones she saved from taking meat off the bone before cooking. But even if the bones were cooked, that would only give her more flavor.

                  To the OP, you might try crushing the bones prior to cooking (plastic bag with a mallet). Also, you don't get gelatin from lean pieces of meat. You need some fatty pieces, i.e. backs, necks, feet, thighs, etc.. Using a whole chicken is fine because you get both flavor from the lean breasts and fat from the rest of the bird.

                  I'm with some of the other posters; I don't normally cook my stock more than 1 1/2 hours.. unless I cook it overnight in a slow cooker or oven roast the stock for 3-4 hours.

                  1. re: jmnewel

                    I use about 90% cooked bones in my stocks (the rest are wing tips and neck stumps) and always have gelatinous stocks. I simmer mine for a minimum of three hours.

                  2. My experiences seem to differ from those of other posters. I make stock 2-3 times a month. I use some combination of cut-up roast carcasses, neck and feet cut from raw chickens, necks from inside other whole chickens, odds and ends from on-the-bone chicken pieces I've purchased and roasted, raw bones from deboning chicken thighs, raw chicken wings and/or feet that I've purchased in Chinatown, if on hand. I don't think I've ever simmered a chicken stock more than two hours, and, more often than not, I simmer for about one hour. I use the "recipe" in JC's The Way to Cook. I can't remember the last time I had a chicken stock that was not flavourful and not gelatinous after refrigeration. I do try to chop up the carcasses a bit, and have started roasting the raw bits for 30 minutes or so before making stock.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I have to second this 50 times. Exactly how I do it; and with the very same results.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        I also. I'm almost certain this is a question of incorrect proportions. Next time someone makes stock, it might be nice to weigh the chicken parts that go in, measure the volume of water that goes in, and measure the volume of stock that comes out. That should help the poster figure out where she's going wrong.

                        1. re: tmso

                          To me, the most important are the bones left from a roasted bird, plus feet and necks, no more than an hour at a low simmer, and clarification.

                          1. re: tmso

                            Me too. I use the method in The Best Recipe with some tweaks. You essentially "sweat" chopped chicken parts (raw backs/wings/necks) to release the juices, then add boiling water and simmer for about 30 minutes. My stocks always gel up when cooled. The proportion is 4 lbs. of raw parts to 2 quarts water.

                            It is interesting to see the cooked vs. raw method here:

                            Note that Method 2 is the Best Recipes recipe that I use. These recipes say that using cooked bones requires 4+ hours of simmering, vs. a total of 1 hr. cook time for the raw parts.

                            1. re: tmso

                              At this point, I just throw in all the chicken bits into the pot, cover with cold water, add a tsp or so of salt, and bring to a simmer. Then I skim off the scum, and add chopped up celery/onions/carrots, and parsley stems if I have some on hand.

                        2. The longer you cook the stock, the better it's going to come out. Two hours is a bare minimum - I always go for at least four. If you have a slow-cooker you can make your stock overnight without worrying about it's boiling over...