Your First Pot of Stock

Stock is easy. So easy, in fact, that I feel kind of silly writing posts about it. I’m going to anyway, though, because when I first started making stock I was scared to get it wrong. I wish someone would have told me that if you’ve got bones and water, it’ll turn out just fine! Everyone should know how to make stock. It is the foundation of a real food diet!

Oops, I drank too much of my stock before taking the picture!

Oops, I drank too much of my stock before taking the picture!

Making stock is also a great way to ease into a healthier diet. Our family made a million changes all at once, after a health crisis. But most people like to ease into dietary changes. It’s a lot easier to add something good to your diet than to try to eliminate “bad” foods that you like. Once you have stock on hand, you can incorporate it into your diet by:

  • Cooking with it in recipes that call for store-bought stock
  • Using it in the place of water when cooking rice, quinoa, or other savory grain dishes
  • Blanching vegetables in it instead of steaming them
  • Drinking a cup of broth with meals
  • Reducing it for flavorful sauces and gravies
  • Making quick soups for easy, portable meals

Using homemade stock in your cooking will add flavor and nutrition to your diet. If you already cooked with store-bought broth and soups, you are in for a surprise – homemade flavor can’t be beat! You’ll also cut your grocery bill and get more nutrition! Incorporating homemade stock into your life will also get you used to the rhythm of preparing basic ingredients from whole foods, and get you excited to try other delicious traditional foods.

Stock doesn’t require fancy ingredients, exact cooking times, or even a recipe! There are much more elaborate ways to make stock which I’ll share later, but this remains my favorite method. Having it sitting there on the counter means I’ll remember to eat it, and I don’t need to fuss with getting it preserved.

Easiest Perpetual Stock

The stock, reducing in the crock pot. Ugly, but delicious!

The stock, reducing in the crock pot

  1. Get some bones. I like to roast a chicken at the beginning of the week. We eat the chicken, collect the bones, and are good to go! You can use any bones that fit in your pot.
  2. Put the bones in a slow cooker. You can also include the giblets, skin, and other parts you didn’t roast like the neck of a chicken, wing tips, and feet. I leave out the skin and neck for perpetual stock method, but use it when making batches of stock. With the perpetual stock method you don’t ever cool it to skim the fat, so the stock can turn out too oily if you use skin and necks. If you are using the feet you’ll want scald them, plunge them in cold water, and remove the skin first. The feet give the stock more flavor, more nutrition, and make it gel more.
  3. Cover the bones with filtered water. It’s fine to fill the pot up to within a couple inches of the top.
  4. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Optional – it helps pull the minerals out of the bones and into the stock.
  5. Turn it up to high. When the water starts to boil off, turn it to low.
  6. After a few hours, your stock will be flavorful. You can start using it by ladling out the amount you need. Whenever the level of liquid gets too low, just add some more filtered water.
  7. Use it all week. After 4-7 days, pour the stock and bones through a colander. Use up the last of your stock and compost the bones. Wash up your pot, and start again!

You can do the same thing on the stove top with a stainless steel stock pot, but I prefer to use the stove top method for extra large batches that we then freeze or pressure can. That way the pot isn’t taking up one of my burners all week, and I don’t have to worry about setting the house on fire.

Do you already cook with stock? What’s your favorite way to make it?

This post is part of Allergy Free Wednesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday.

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25 comments to Your First Pot of Stock

  • I routinely make stock on the stove after we roast chicken, but my results are hit and miss. Sometimes it turns out delicious, and sometimes it is bland or bitter. I usually add in an onion, carrots and celery, as well as seasoning when it has cooked for a long while. Suggestions? The crockpot method sounds great, but we usually roast 2 chickens at a time for our large family, and they both won’t fit in the crockpot with enough water to make it worthwhile. I long to sit with a cup of broth; yours looks delicious. :)

    • Joy

      Hi Toni,
      We roast 2 chickens at a time, too! What I usually do is put one of the carcasses in the crock pot, and put the other in a freezer bag. I save up chickens until I have 2 or three, then those go in our great big stock pot for one big batch.

      As for the bitter taste, I have had that happen a couple times with my big batches to which I do add vegetables. After a bit of research, I think it has to do with the vegetables I added. Carrot tops and celery tops can both be very bitter. Have you been including those?

      Our crock pot stock starts out pretty bland, but gets more flavorful as the week progresses. Adding salt and bay leaf is also good. We don’t typically salt our stock until we are using it, so it will be more versatile.

  • I use lamb stew-meat-on-the-bone because it’s currently the only meat I can source that’s totally corn-free (including no corn-derived acid wash used in the processing of the lamb). I put it into my slow cooker, fill with filtered water, sprinkle in some salt, cook on High until it begins to simmer, then turn to Low and cook for 24-28 hours. I start it at night so that I have broth the next morning (if I don’t already have some in the fridge).

    For each cup of broth I remove, I add in a cup of filtered water. Since the broth includes fat + some bits of stew meat that are left on the bones, I go ahead and strain the broth the second night and put it and any meat I’ve picked out into the fridge. Then that gives me the next day, maybe two, off from thinking about broth. Although I don’t dislike the smell of the broth, it *is* nice to not smell it 24/7 ;-).

    I did try doing a perpetual broth at first, but have found I prefer this way better. Also, since my crockpot turns off after 14 hours (something I was reminded of the hard way, when I awoke one morning to not-hot broth in the slow cooker!), by doing it this way I don’t have to be quite so alert to how long the slow cooker’s been going.

  • Jill

    Hi, I found this post through Real Food Wednesday! I’m one to make big batches of stock from several chicken carcasses, plus extra backs, feet and heads. I freeze it and use in recipes, soups, etc.

    One thing I’ve found though is, I hate drinking it straight, even when I season it. I really, really WANT to like to drink it straight, but I just can’t get past it. It’s not that it tastes bad, it’s just that I don’t want to sip on a mug of broth. I wonder if maybe I associate drinking out of a mug with coffee/tea or hot chocolate, so the savory broth is off putting.

    Any suggestions? Am I crazy?

    • Jill

      Oh, I meant to say, I thought maybe having a perpetual stock would convince me I’d want to drink it since it would always be hot and I wouldn’t have to re-heat, etc. I tried it last week, and- nope, still didn’t want to drink it.

      • Joy

        Hi Jill,
        You’re perfectly normal ;) Drinking stock takes some getting used to.

        It took me a really long time to get used to drinking stock. For several months at least I only had it in soup. But by eating soup all the time I got more used to it. I started out with more brothy soups, then small bowls of broth with a spoon, and eventually started having mugs of stock.

        Now I think of it as something comforting and cozy :)
        -Joy

  • jeri

    Hi Joy,
    I’m very new to all of this but really want try it! Silly question here then….do you not have to worry about chicken being out all week? The temperature is adequate in a crock pot to keep you from getting sick? Sorry…like I said…newbie here!

    • Joy

      Hi Jeri,
      I was worried about food poisoning at first, too. But we’ve been doing this regularly for over a year now and have never gotten sick. Slow cookers that are working properly keep food out of the danger zone. I think it also helps that we start with meat and bones that have never seen a CAFO.

      If you are worried… start with just keeping it going for a couple days. When that goes well for you, add a day. I don’t let mine go longer than a week on principle, but it’s never started smelling bad or anything.
      Joy

  • I always forget about adding the splash of apple cider vinegar to pull out the minerals. Thanks for the reminder! And thank you for linking up at Allergy-Free Wednesdays this week. Hope to see you back again next week.

    ~Michelle, AFW Hostess

  • I actually had a small bowl of homemade chicken broth this morning. When I get ready to make the second batch, I’ll add a little bit of apple cider vinegar!! Great idea!!! Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  • I’m making perpetual broth now… tastes like chicken! :) Nowhere near as yellow as your broth in the photo, though. :P How do I get that rich, yellow color?

  • [...] to change now that I have learned about Perpetual Broth! I discovered this method when I read this post about making stock by my friends over at The Liberated [...]

  • Trinity

    This may be a silly question, but do you put the lid on the crock pot while it’s cooking, or leave it off? Seems like you leave it off, like with a stock pot, but I’ve never heard of a crock pot being used that way (especially for a week straight), so I thought I better double check. I’ve been making my own stock for a while, but this is the first time I’ve heard of perpetual stock – looking forward to trying it! (Found you via Pinterest…)

    • Joy

      Yes, we put the lid on. It’s not super tight fitting, so if you have it on high some of the stock will still evaporate. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Christine

    I love the idea of perpetual stock. I have noticed when I let my chicken bone broth cook on low for more than 24 hours the bones start to fall apart. Isn’t this something to avoid? Or is this a good thing?

    Thanks!!

    • Joy

      It’s a good thing! It means that lots of great minerals have leached into the broth. You can strain the bones out. You can use them in your compost for your garden. I’ve even been known to nibble on them :)

  • Licia

    Thanks so much for this information. I didnt know you could do it this way!

    I am also interested in reading about your “large batch of stock” and how you make it but I couldn’t find it when I did a search. Could you direct me to it?

    Thanks again for all of your info. I’ll be starting GAPS intro in August so all your tips are great!!:)

    • We actually don’t have a post on making large batches of stock, oddly enough! We make it the same as the perpetual stock, but simmer it on the stove for 24 hours before pouring it into freezer safe glass jars or pressure canning it.

      Good luck on starting GAPS!

  • Edwina

    Great information. Thanks for sharing. I’m a bit nervous about leaving my slow cooker on for days on end and am also a bit worried about the electricity bills. Did either of those things weigh on you?

    • Joy

      Hi Edwina,
      It’s all a balancing act of risk against reward and convenience. You certainly don’t have to leave it going for days and days – that’s just one option that I think is easiest if you’re not the kind who will go to all the trouble of pulling out and reheating a food that is new to you. The crock pot makes it the easiest thing to dish up, which, in my case, makes a *big* difference in how much of it I eat.

      I was really worried about crock pots and fire hazard at first. The outside of the pot does get hot, so I do like to make sure it’s got some space around it. But I’ve been converted to crock pots for all sorts of things and have never heard of anyone having a crock pot fire.

      We didn’t compare our electric bill before and after starting to use crock pots regularly, but we didn’t notice a big change.

  • Valerie Harris

    Do you leave the crock pot on low (warm) or high after the stock is basically finished?

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