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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 :)

              2. Sooo the "stock" you buy in the grocery store like say swanson's is that broth or stock??
                Also since the stock is more concentrated does it need diluting?
                I have a fav lobster bisque recipe that is rue based that calls for chicken stock, is it ok to use the thicker stock vs the store bought stuff?

                10 Replies
                1. re: BelovedofIsis

                  Swanson's sells both broth and stock.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Their broth is more or less recognizably broth. Their stock... is broth that tastes a little different.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      Beg to differ. It's not homemade, but Swanson's isn't "crap," either. There are times when the freezer is depleted of its homemade stock and we need to find an alternative. It's not a tragedy, and I suspect that most folks will not detect an inferior flavor.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I freely admit that when I need stock or broth for a highly flavored dish I don't use my precious homemade stuff. And *I* can't tell the difference :)

                    2. re: BelovedofIsis

                      By all means, use your homemade stock.

                      And YES, gelatinous stock is fine, wonderful, and thick because it has more collagen, yada yada, someone said it all before me. Enjoy it!!

                      1. re: BelovedofIsis

                        Using a Roux in a bisque is unusual. They are classically thickened with rice not flour. Just say'in

                        1. re: chefj

                          So other "flours" can be used to produce a roux as well? It makes sense I just hadn't tried it. I have always wondered about substituting the "fat" portion of a roux for something other then butter or animal fat such as a veg/nut/olive oil (not shortening) for a slightly healthier bent, but I've always been too afraid it wouldn't set up correctly. Besides we all need a little butter in our lives right?

                          1. re: BelovedofIsis

                            you can absolutely use vegetable oil to make a roux - no problems at all.

                            I'm not positive, but I think that chefj is saying that the starch-and-fat paste known as a roux is not the classic way to thicken a bisque, rather than saying that rice *flour* can be used in the roux.

                      2. I remember the first time I looked in the pot and saw what appeared to be partially melted bee's wax. A little heat and it looked like soup. Thick is good, lots of essence.

                        I use the boxed chicken stock though generally not Swanson's, homemade is not always available.

                        1. Gelatinous is good. Very good. The flavour is enhanced as are the nutrients.

                          1. Once you heat that stuff up, it will start to loosen on you. Better yet, it can probably even take a little water and still be good stock. Just remember to salt to taste.