Correct preparation of homemade stock is one of the foundational techniques of Traditional Cooking.
So critical is homemade stock to the ongoing maintenance of health that Dr. Francis Pottenger MD, author of the nutrition classic Pottenger’s Cats, considered the stockpot the most important piece of equipment in the kitchen.
Homemade stock is so essential because it contains ample amounts of gelatin, a colloidal substance that attracts digestive juices to itself and prevents gastrointestinal bugs from attaching themselves to the gut wall and wreaking havoc. Natural gelatin both assists digestion and keeps you well!
In addition to gelatin, stock contains minerals such as calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals all in a form that is incredibly easy for the body to absorb.
Do you take expensive supplements for joint pain or arthritis?
Simply adding homemade stock on a frequent basis to your diet will do your cartilage, tendons, and joints a world of good as stock also contains collagen, chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine.
With homemade stock such a critical food to health, it is important to make it correctly. One sign that you have indeed performed the task well is that your stock gels beautifully once it is chilled in the refrigerator.
If you find that your stock consistently does not gel, here are the 5 typical reasons why as described by Monica Corrado, MA, CNC and author of the blog Simply Being Well. Monica teaches cooking classes and does consultations, so be sure to check her website for this information if you could use some coaching.
Reasons Why Your Stock Won’t Gel
- The stock rolled at too high a temperature. If stock is simmered too high, the heat will break down and destroy the collagen. To see what the perfect simmer on your stock should look like, see my short video on the subject by clicking here.
- The stock did not roll long enough. Once you get that perfect simmer or “roll” going, be sure that chicken stock rolls for 6-24 hours and beef stock for 12-50 hours. Less than that will likely not draw enough gelatin into the stock from the bones.
- Not enough of the right kind of bones were used that yield gelatin. To get the right mix of bones that yield gelatin versus other types of bones that add flavor and color, make sure you use one of the following methods: 1 whole, free range layer hen with neck and wings cut up, 3-4 lbs of boney chicken parts which includes a combo of necks, backs, and wings, OR the picked carcass of 2 meat chickens. For beef stock, use about 7 lbs bones total (4 lbs of boney bones and 3 lbs of meaty bones).
- Too much water was used in proportion to the bones. For chickens, the correct proportion is 3-4 lbs of bones per 4 quarts of filtered water. For beef stock, the correct proportion is 7 lbs of bones per 4 quarts of water or more to cover.
- Using bones from battery chickens or chickens raised in cages. Conventionally raised chickens or chickens raised in cages typically yield little to no gelatin. It is worth the extra money to get quality when you buy meat especially if you will be using those bones to make stock.
To get additional gelatin, adding a chicken head and/or 2 feet to the stockpot will add even more! If your chicken is a rooster, add the comb. This will also add gelatin along with testosterone to the stock which adult men may find appealing as testosterone levels tend to decline with age.
If Your Stock Still Does Not Gel, Do This
If despite all your best efforts, you still come up with a pot of stock that does not gel, add 1 TBL of powdered gelatin per quart of liquid.
Vetted sources of good quality gelatin are available under the Supplements Section of my Resources page.
Hopefully, these tips will help you solve the riddle of why your stock doesn’t gel so that the time you spend on this age old culinary tradition is well spent producing the most nutrient dense stock possible!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist