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Freezing chicken bones

I want to freeze chicken bones until I have enough to make a stock for pho. Can I use any chicken bones? The pho would ultimately only be eaten by me and my boyfriend, so would it be okay to use chicken bones that we took bites from? And if I can, is it okay to use chicken bones that previously had some sort of sauce on them?

I've never done this before so I apologize if these are dumb questions!

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  1. Generally stock is from raw bones & related trim unless you want a dark stock, in which case the bones are roasted first. And, no, it's not ok to use bones with sauce on them. As to having taken a bite out, no problem as long as you like raw chicken.

    1. While I generally don't take bites first, I typically remove the meat first when my intention is to make soup or stock.

      I use raw bones and roasted bones.....and I freeze both.

      BTW....sauce usually doesn't hit the bones, but if you see it as a problem....give it a rinse. I would not use BBS, but soy sauce, no problem.

      1. There is no right or wrong answer as to whether this kind of thing is acceptable. It's completely up to you and the people consuming the stock.

        Having said that, I do exactly this all the time. I cook for my friends and roommates all the time and they all know when I make chicken the bones have to be returned. I even save bones from fried chicken! You just have to get all the fried batter off. And it's not just chicken bones...I save bones from all different meats - if I go to a steakhouse and get a bone in steak I bring it home and it goes in the freezer until the next batch of stock.

        As for having sauce on the bones...just give 'em a quick rinse before you freeze. When you have enough you get free stock!

        For way too much discussion on this exact topic, refer to http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7652...

        1. if you have access to any asian markets, your pho broth will benefit greatly from head, feet, wings -- anything with lots of connective tissue.

          assuming you won't have actually bitten into the bone, lol, but yes, those bones are fine to use. you'll be simmering them for hours so germs aren't an issue. :)

          1. There's a faction of usual suspects that will need smelling salts if they hear that someone is using bones from consumed cooked chicken in making stock. Professional kitchens aren't allowed to do that. Since you are cooking the bones and meat for hours, I have no doubt that it's perfectly safe, and do it myself although, like you, it's not consumed outside my household. I'd rinse off unchickeny sauce like barbecue sauce or lemon sauce, but chicken(y) gravy? I'd leave that on. Use a vacuum sealer or a straw to suck the air out of the freezer bag, since those leftover bones get ice and freezer burn pretty fast. You'd probably be better off freezing them covered in water or storebought broth if it's going to be more than a couple of weeks until you make stock.

            1. I make it from cooked chicken carcasses but I tend not to use bones of things we have eaten off of.

              2 Replies
              1. re: melpy

                I guess I don't understand why it would matter as it's going to cook for a couple of hours. Even MY cooties would be long gone by then :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  I didn't say I wouldn't. For some reason once the bones are on someone's plate I rather forget it is an option. Usually I am scraping that trash into the bin. Carcasses or bones that remain in the kitchen I usually see and think, "hey, I can use this again". I'm not skeeved by it though.

              2. My go-to for pho is Andrea Nguyen and here's her recipe for pho ga:


                As you can see, she starts with a whole chicken. To me, an intensely flavored broth for pho is key. I hope this helps.

                1. Do this all the time - except that carcasses from roast whole chickens become "people stock" and stock from "eaten bones" goes in a bad for "dog stock"

                  8 Replies
                    1. re: c oliver

                      I guess partly because I find it a little gross to make stock from the eaten bones - while I know its OK and I am not really that squeamish but mostly because I like to make separate stock for the dogs that has no onion so its a way to divide the bones and we all get to enjoy fresh stock - I simmer the dogs stock bones longer too to get the most out of them - longer than I would stock for my own soup.

                      1. re: JTPhilly

                        Thanks. I don't make stock from cooked bones so just wondering.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          the roasted bones stock is darker and not good if you want a really clear pure stock but I find it flavorful for making soups or adding in recipes - just a free byproduct of roasting a chicken - and the dogs enjoy their stock over kibble :)

                          1. re: JTPhilly

                            I make stock from things like raw feet, necks and backs. And for pho, I'd not vary much from AN's recipe.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              that's a nice recipe I like how she builds the dish from the whole chicken- now I have an excuse to go buy a heavy cleaver - I agree for Pho I might not want the residual flavors from roasting - I have these tea bag like pho spice packets for making the broth they are ok - but that recipe looks fantastic.

                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                I'll admit I've only made her beef version but it's amazing! I make a huge pot and freeze the broth in meal-size portions.

                        2. re: JTPhilly

                          We removed a long digression about feeding dogs bones from here. Though dog food is on topic on our Not About Food board, it was getting a little out of hand for this thread. If anyone would like copies of their posts back, reach out to us at moderators@chowhound.com and we can send them.

                    2. Thank you for everyone's answers!

                      1. Yes, I save cooked chicken bones for stock, even ones we've eaten off of. I don't want to hear any whining about it, mine gets pressure canned so it's not like anything is living in it.

                        1. I use all bones that haven't hit a plate and the most of the larger of the ones that have. If there's sauce all over a bone I don't bother to rinse it off; those are the ones that get thrown out.

                          As mentioned above, wings are a particularly good source of collagen, which breaks down during the stock-making to become gelatin and which vastly increases the mouthfeel of the stock and whatever you make from it.

                          So if you ever find yourself making chicken wings, be sure to separate them into three pieces, not two. The flats and drumettes are what get eaten, the tips go right into the bag for stock. If you don't like Buffalo-style wings there are a lot of recipes around the web for other preparations, including some pretty gourmet stuff.

                          Also as above, roasted and unroasted bones produce stocks of different character. I don't bother to separate them and just go with the luck of the draw (or roast the raw ones), but you may want to store roasted and unroasted bones in separate bags.