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why is my chicken stock so dark?

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so last night after roasting a bunch of chicken thighs, i made chicken stock. all i had were a couple pounds of roasted chicken thigh bones, an onion, and water. cooked for about 7 hours. i strained the finished product through a colander and an old, clean, t shirt. the resulting stock is the color of beef broth, and very clear. it tastes very very good, however i dont understand why it is so brown. is it because the bones were from a roasted chicken? the amount of water was reduced by about half by the time i was done, because i dont have a stock pot so i used a very wide dutch oven. the large surface area caused quicker evaporation, is it dark just because it is such concentrated stock? i had it on a bare simmer the whole time.... thanks.

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  1. Well, how does it taste? If it tastes good, then it's not over concentrated. If it tastes too strong then yes, it may be a bit too cooked down.

    Also for sure part of your 'tint" is that you used all dark meat. It will be a darker broth, versus the golden broth you get with using a whole chicken and carrots.

    16 Replies
    1. re: happybaker

      could it have been the fact that i used the skins on the onion?

      1. re: charles_sills

        A yellow skinned onion will release a golder and darker colour into your chicken stock.

        1. re: Ruthie789

          (I always chuck onion skins into the pot -- I like the color!)

          1. re: sunshine842

            So do I.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Onion skins have been used to dye clothing for centuries...

          2. re: charles_sills

            I use onion skins in my stock for just that reason: to add color! The yellowish stock from Better Than Bullion is OK, but I prefer the darker for most recipes I make.

          3. re: happybaker

            it does taste great! i thought about the dark meat thing, however truthfully there wasnt a whole lot of meat on the bones.
            ill try it again next time i do a whole chicken, hopefully it will be a lighter color. thanks!

            1. re: happybaker

              I don't think that the use of all dark meat will make the stock darker...at least I've never found that to be the case. The skins of the onion will contribute color, definitely, as well as the fact that you used roasted chicken. Raw chicken and/or bones will always produce a lighter colored stock and usually a much better tasting one. That said, I generally use a combination of bones and trimmings from both roasted and raw chicken, saved from various meals and stored in the freezer until i have a good amount for a rich stock.

              1. re: The Professor

                I agree that there should be no appreciable difference in color between a stock made with white meat and a stock made with dark meat (unless one has significantly more skin/bones exposed than the other).

                1. re: The Professor

                  Well.....

                  We both start with raw chicken, but my sister uses all dark meat chicken for her broth - and it is darker than my whole chicken broth. Not dark brown compared to yellow, but, darker. I can tell.

                  Maybe we're just different : )

                  1. re: happybaker

                    Interesting...my stock made with dark meat turns out virtually colorless (unless there is a lot of vegitation added to the pot).
                    What makes yours yellow???

                    1. re: The Professor

                      He keeps the onion skin on the onion, it colours the stock as it leeches.

                      1. re: Ruthie789

                        That would certainly do it.

                      2. re: The Professor

                        Professor -

                        Maybe the carrots? Depending on the size of the chicken I will use 4 - 8 good sized carrots, in addition to a peeled onion, peppercorns, celery (or celery seeds.)

                        And I do strain it, remove the chicken from the bones and then add it back to the broth. One friend told me she felt that's why my soup was "brighter". The straining.

                        Hey, I'm just happy it works!

                      3. re: happybaker

                        I've often made chicken with white and/or dark meat and (all other things being equal) have never seen a color difference. The only difference I've noticed is a larger amount of chicken fat from dark meat and a slightly higher umami sense in the broth. The color however remains the same....

                        1. re: keith

                          Gosh, I swear, my sisters soup is WAY darker than mine.

                          So now you have me thinking about other variables - I use peppercorns, maybe she uses ground pepper? Dunno!

                  2. Three things likely were chief contributors. First, roasting bones will always result in a darker stock. I understand that you didn't roast bare bones but that you used bones from a roasted chicken, but any exposed bone will darken and lead to a darker stock. Second, leaving the peel/skin on any aromatics will darken the stock, especially onion skin (but also carrot peel, parsnip peel, garlic peel, etc). Finally, a seven hour cooking time will leech a lot of the marrow out of the bones which will also extract a bit more dark pigment. For a lighter stock I'd suggest using raw chicken bones, peeling any aromatics, and cooking for no more than three hours.

                    Still, if the stock tastes good, depending on what you're using it for, color shouldn't matter too much.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: keith

                      Oh! I did not know about the marrow! Very interesting.

                    2. Also, every time you reheat it the stock will get darker. As long as it tastes good, don't worry about it! :) Alternatively, cook a recipe that uses soy sauce so diners will EXPECT it to be dark.

                      1. Roasted chicken + onion skins = darker broth/stock

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wyogal

                          Ditto.

                        2. Warm it up and strain it through one of those paper coffee filters .... see if that helps lighten things up.

                          1. My chicken stock is always brown, but I make mine with roasted chicken carcass that was cooked on the grill and I usually add the onion skins. If I use a raw chicken I get that anemic pale yellow broth, which I'm no longer used to LOL.