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Free is a pretty good price.
There are just not very many things you can feed your family and say that they are free.
Chicken stock is something that we use all the time. I’m always using chicken stock for soup, chili, and whenever I make beans. You can also swap it out for water when making rice, and it’s a nice addition to homemade sauces.
While technically they are all a little different, most people now are using the terms bone broth, chicken stock, and chicken broth all to mean the same thing. It is basically liquid made from cooking together bones and water for a long period of time. The liquid that results can have various health and nutritional benefits. The longer that the bones are cooked the more nutrients that are released from the bones. Think trace minerals, collagen, gelatin, and calcium.
You can read a great article about the benefits of bone broth at Nourished Kitchen by clicking here.
Free Chicken Stock?
You’re probably asking — How can you make Chicken Stock for free? Well, my trick is in using chicken bones that most people would throw away.
Every time we have chicken I gather all the bones and put them in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag. I then keep these in the freezer and keep adding to it until the bag is full. Don’t worry, the bones are going to be cooked at high pressure, which will sanitize them, so there’s no need to get freaked out about the germs from your kids’ plates.
Instant Pot Chicken Stock
Once I have a bag full of bones I dump them in my Instant Pot and cover them with hot water (remember not to overfill the pot). If you have a smaller amount of bones to cook, only put in enough water to cover the bones. Don’t fill the pot the whole way. This is how to make sure your chicken stock is rich and has a beautiful golden color.
I then pressure cook them on high pressure for 60 minutes. If you’d like, you can put 2 Tablespoons of vinegar in the water to help draw the nutrients out of the bones and into the stock.
When the time has counted down and is finished, let the pressure release naturally. This will take a good amount of time, so be patient.
After the pressure is released I pour off the chicken stock into a colander that is placed inside a large bowl. I then pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into my storage containers.
Then I put the bones back in the Instant Pot and cover the bones with water again and cook them for another 60 minutes. You’ll be amazed that you can get another batch of stock this way. And, It’s still just as golden and delicious.
Pour off the stock into your colander again, drain the bones completely and throw them away at this point.
You will notice at this point that the bones are very soft and can be mashed. We have always fed this a little at a time to the dogs, which they absolutely love. It’s a bit too much bone material to feed all at once, but what a great way to stretch a few more dollars out of those bones.
I choose not to put any kind of seasonings or salt or aromatics in my chicken stock while I’m making it. This allows me to add any seasoning I like to the final dishes that the stock goes into. I’ve also heard that cooking vegetables, like onion, for this long will make them bitter, so I just don’t chance it.
Storing Chicken Stock
I ended up with 3 1/2 quarts of stock from the first batch and 2 1/2 quarts from the second batch. This will vary, depending on how many bones and how much liquid you put into your Instant Pot.
There are many ways to store your chicken stock. Most people advise not to keep it in the refrigerator more than 4 days, but it can be stored in the freezer for 6 months to a year.
After pouring the chicken stock through a fine-mesh strainer into your containers, you can put them into the refrigerator to completely cool. At this point, the fat has solidified and will be easy to skim off the top. Then I place it in the freezer for long-term storage.
I prefer to store mine in quart-sized containers in the freezer. You can pick up these Ziploc containers, or these takeout deli containers. The takeout containers are my favorite. They store nicely and are a great value.
While it is possible to store it in mason jars in the freezer, I have had jars break. For the most success, use wide mouth jars and only fill them to 1 inch below the point where the jar starts to narrow at the top. This reduces the chances that the frozen block of stock will expand up and break the jar. I’ve also heard it advised to lay the jar on its side to freeze.
Follow The Steps
- Collect Chicken Bones
- Pour bones into Instant Pot
- Cover with Water
- Pressure Cook for 60 minutes
- Pour bones and stock through a colander
- Pour stock through a fine-mesh strainer into storage containers and chill
- Put Bones back in Instant Pot
- Cover with Water again
- Pressure Cook another 60 minutes
- Pour bones and stock through a colander
- Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into storage containers
- Place stock not being used right away into the freezer
Using Chicken Stock
Your chicken stock can be used in so many different ways, it’s impossible to mention them all. I use mine as the base for any soups, chilis or beans. Substitute the water in your savory recipes with chicken stock, too. Many people will add some sea salt and drink it straight, which is delicious.
Don’t be surprised when you go to use it and it has solidified. This is a great sign that you have gotten a lot of the gelatin from the bones into the broth. Just dump it as it is into your recipe and it will quickly melt into its liquid form again. If you need it to be liquefied first, just microwave it or put it in a saucepan to melt it.
Once you start making your own stock this way, you won’t ever go back to buying it. Let us know your favorite way to use it.
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