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Salting my stock

My mamma taught me to salt the water when making stock from a pre-roasted chicken or turkey. But none of my cookbooks call for that. They all add veggies and herbs, but no salt beyond what was used for the roasting. Who's right? What do you do?

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  1. I never add salt to my stock. You can always add it later depending on what you're going to be using it for. If you salt it early in the process and then decide later to boil it down to intensify the flavor, it will probably be too salty.

    3 Replies
      1. And quartro agree. Stock is used to finish a dish, and is seasoned at that time, not while it's being created.

        1. I don't add salt either.

          1. I don't salt mine, either, since I don't know what I am going to do with it.

            1. I don't salt mine. Usually the original roasted chicken had salt anyways. I found a few times when I was reducing the stock for a sauce, the concentrate was quite salty. However, if you are using uncooked chicken parts, then I would salt it. Sounds like you are not..

              1. PBandT:

                I go back and forth with myself on this one.

                I don't see any problem with salting early--as long as you KNOW you're not going to end up with too much. So far, I'm not that good. Last night I made a sauce poivadre that started with over a quart of concentrated brown stock and also got a heavy dose of demi-glace, before reducing to less than 2 cups. If I had salted any of that going in--disaster! This is especially true if one starts with commercial stock or glace (which are usually already oversalted), or finishes the sauce with salted butter (not knowing that salted butter is all you have left that night!)

                On the other hand, I am one of those cooks who isn't (yet) good at tasting completely unsalted preparations and knowing in advance how it will taste when salt is added only at the finish. I find I need a little salt to taste the *other* things in the stock in order to make adjustments. I recently taught myself to keep a Chinese porcelain spoon by the pot so that I can shake a little salt into each taste, rather than flail around and regret adding too much to the pot.

                I also have a theory (more knowledgeable people, please correct me if I'm crazy) that if you know your stock is not going to be reduced and know no very salty things will be added to your soup later, that salting your stock early is a GOOD thing, insofar as it will be a bit of a check on microbial spoilage and the fading of vegetable colors.


                1. I'm in the camp that doesn't add salt to my big batch of stock. I like to be able to control the seasonings when I use the stock in individual dishes. Good luck with your stock! I'm making chicken stock this weekend. Yummy!!

                  1. I use a good deal of my stock for pan sauces where I want to control the saltiness so I never salt my stock. If I'm concerned about the flavor, I will take a ladleful and salt in a bowl.

                    1. You might find "The Elements of Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman helpful. He includes a lengthy discourse on both stocks and the use of salt generally.

                      1. in the other stock/broth thread I noted I salt my stock, still do, always did, and will continue.
                        I don't make it a salt lick, but I do want it seasoned.
                        to each his or her own

                        1. There's no right or wrong answer to this.

                          Do what works for you.

                          Most people don't like to salt their stock for the same reason that most people prefer unsalted butter -- stock is used as an ingredient and not salting your stock will allow you to control the salinity and flavors of the ultimate dish you are making.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            "Most people don't like to salt their stock for the same reason that most people prefer unsalted butter "

                            I prefer salted butter.

                            I do buy both and in same quantity, like I did over the holiday [at the huge ole warehouse store] for my purposes of baking and cooking large meals. I bought 4 lbs of each.

                          2. The OP specifically focused on whether to :: salt the water when making stock from a pre-roasted chicken or turkey ::

                            Roasted chickens or turkeys are already salted, so there's no need to add salt when making stock from the carcass. That's the case no matter what your position on salting stock made with uncooked poultry.

                            It makes sense in general to be conservative with salt in stock-making, especially if you use it in recipes that call for a lot of reduction.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ellabee

                              I think you're the only one who got the point of the question. And I agree ....

                            2. Sometime I do, but most of the time I do not add salt. I say maybe.... 70:30

                              1. No salt, unless you are not using celery as part of the aromatic vegetables. The celery provides the necessary sodium level, as well as glutamates for umami.

                                1. Stock cooks down a LOT - if you salt it at the beginning, it'll probably end up too salty at the end. And you don't know how much salt you'll want in the finished dishes that you use the stock to make. Better to leave the salt out and add it when you actually use the stock. Plus, there's already salt in the vegetables (if you're using them) especially the celery, and in the meat.