Have you ever noticed how much sodium is in store-bought chicken stock or broth? Even the brands labeled “low sodium” are full of it. That’s why I love making this homemade overnight chicken stock. When you make a homemade stock you control the amount of salt added, or you can omit the salt altogether. It’s super easy to make and freezes well. I freeze mine in pint and quart size mason jars to use in larger portions for the base of soups and stews. I freeze things all the time in mason jars without any problems. I also freeze some in muffin tins to use when I want just a little added flavor to a recipe. Once frozen in the tins just pop them out and put the “muffins” into a freezer bag for individual use later. Works like a charm!
Is it chicken stock or broth? These terms are used interchangeably these days, but what is the difference? Well, traditionally, chicken broth is made with chicken meat, and chicken stock is made with chicken bones. The bones contain a collagen protein that breaks down creating a gelatin. This gives the stock – body, flavor, mouth-feel, and a dark golden color. It also produces that gelatin-like jiggle that stock has once it’s cooled off. The broth is much lighter, has a light color and does not jiggle. One thing’s for sure – whether you go with homemade chicken stock or homemade chicken broth – the result will be far superior to any boxed or canned product purchased from the store.
What else do you add to enhance the flavor of your stock? There really isn’t an exact recipe when making Homemade Overnight Chicken Stock. Additional enhancing ingredients you’ll want to add are carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and various herbs and spices. When I make Crock Pot Roasted Chicken, I debone the cooked meat and either freeze the carcass and bones, or, If I’m going to make stock I throw them back into the crock and add another carcass from the freezer. When I’m done eating I prep the rest of the ingredients, throw ’em in, fill the crock with water and set it on low. After a good night’s sleep, you will wake up to a wonderfully aromatic and flavorful broth ready to be cooled down and put into jars or freezer containers. You’ll strain everything through a very fine sieve. After straining I usually line the sieve with a coffee filter and pour it through the filter. You will be left with a rich, delicious golden colored stock – no wonder they call it “liquid gold”. When you’re done throw everything out – even the vegetables. They’re completely spent after giving up all their flavor to the stock. They’ve rendered all they have to offer.
Chicken carcasses can be frozen until you have what you need to make your stock. You’ll want to add enough to achieve the gelatin consistency. The stock should slightly gel when refrigerated. I’m not taking jello firm here – just a slight jiggle. I used two carcasses along with the leg and thigh bones in a 6-quart crock pot filled with water. Raw chicken bones can also be used – necks, back, wing tips, even chicken feet.
Homemade Overnight Chicken Stock is a great freezer staple to have on hand when the need arises.
- 2 chicken carcasses or leftover chicken bones equivalent to one small or medium chicken
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 2 ribs celery washed and cut into large chunks
- Celery tops
- 2 carrots washed and cut into large chunks
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 - 2 fresh parsley sprigs
- 1 - 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 - 4 garlic cloves peeled
- 3 - 4 whole peppercorns
- Salt to taste optional
- After removing all edible meat from the carcasses/bones return the bones to the crock along with any juices. If you remove the skin it can be added as well, but remember this will add fat to your stock. This is a matter of preference.
- Add all of the vegetable, herbs, spice, and salt (if using) and fill crock with water to within 1-inch of top.
- Turn slow cooker to low and let simmer all night long. If doing this during the day you will cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.
- When stock is done cooking turn off heat and let cool slightly. Strain through a fine mesh sieve once removing all solid ingredients, then line the sieve with a coffee filter and strain liquid again.
- Refrigerate, or freeze for future use. I freeze mine in pint and quart mason jars, and in muffin tins for smaller portion uses. If using mason jars remember to leave about one inch headspace for expansion.