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May 6, 2011 02:16 PM

Silly question about stock

Yes I know there are a zillion threads on chicken stock and I have read through 4 or 5 of them and just didn't find my question addressed directly. Is stock supposed to turn thick gelatinous when refrigerated? I made stock for the first time a week ago and when I refrigerated it and then skimmed it the next day it was still liquid. This week however I made a second batch and the next day after refrigeration it was really really thickly gelled and only got 2 cups of stock rather than 6 in the previous one.

1st batch was made with a cooked chicken carcass with meat remnants and skin (might have used too much water with this one).

2nd batch made with two cooked poussin carcasses with two wings of meat and skin (used less water for this one)

So if it gels does that mean its a better stock? It smells great, but the first one smelled good too even though it tasted a bit weak.

My main concern is the gelling in the Fridge and what it means about the quality of the stock.


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  1. Gelled stock is a good thing! Reducing the liquid after simmering always increases flavor.

    1. the gelling in the stock is caused by the collagens that are present in the connective tissues (tendons, cartilage, etc) of the skeleton.

      It HUGELY improves the "mouthfeel" of your stock -- without it, you just have chicken-flavored water -- the collagens are responsible for that silky, velvety mouthfeel that separates homemade stock from the rest.

      Not only does it not harm the quality at all -- it's a sign that you've got a really good batch!

      Sounds like your proportions of water to "stuff" was better in the second batch. I usually use a couple of full-size chicken carcasses, and end up with 10-12 cups of stock.

      1. Two things. Second batch was more concentrated and the poussin may have more collegen, which is what turns the stock gelatinous.
        As Martha says, it's a good thing.

        1. Have you ever made jello with unflavored gelatin? The higher the ratio of gelatin to water the stiffer the final product. Same goes with stock. You are extracting gelatin (among other things) from the bones and skin. Some things contribute just flavor (e.g. the vegetables), others are great sources of gelatin (among the best parks like feet). And the more water, the more diluted the final product.

          1. Stock - most definitely.
            Broth - not necessarily, but gelatinization isn't a bad thing either.
            What most people interchangeably refer to as homemade stock/broth - yeah

            In any case, the main yard stick you should use is whether it tastes like you want it to when it's warm.

            5 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              In any case, the main yard stick you should use is whether it tastes like you want it to when it's warm.


              I'm not sure the difference between stock and broth is the level of gelatin; in fact, I'm not sure there's any real meaningful difference between the two in modern day usage (both semantically and culinary-wise).

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I think of stock as having been made with more bones and simmered longer (and as such having more gelatin), whereas broth is mostly made from meat and isn't simmered as long. I agree that most people, even chefs, use the terms interchangeably (and often blur the lines between them in terms of how they make it), but I think the distinction is a useful one at times so I stubbornly stick to it. It's a losing battle.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  says the stock in strained, broth still has some solids - though the 'broth' article says that's a British distinction. An American distinction makes the broth from meat, and stock from vegetables and bones.

                  If I simmer bones, meat scraps and vegetables for a long time, and strain off the liquid, I call that a stock. If I make a soup with that stock, adding some vegetables and starches like pasta, I might call the liquid part of that soup the broth. But the broth for a soup could also be made with an instant flavoring of some sort (e.g. dashi-no-moto).

                  1. re: paulj

                    There was a great sub-thread quite a while back that got deleted for being off-topic I suppose (can't really remember). But it gave very clear distinctions between the two. It was such good info.

                    Once I started making stock with chicken feet and backs rather than whole chickens, I knew the difference :)