Fresh Chicken Broth: Achieving a Solid Gel

A good stock is the backbone of a good kitchen; it provides flavor to your dishes as well as sustenance and nourishment for your body.   Broth features in the traditional foods of peoples across the globe.  Stock is the foundation of classical French cooking and provides critical sustenance in peasant cooking among traditional peoples everywhere.  Broth is dense in nutrients.  Rich in trace minerals such as magnesium and calcium as well as glycine – an amino acid that aids digestion and may help to assist in the healing of wounds and injuries which may account for broth’s fame as a healing, wholesome foods. (Read more about the benefits of bone broth.)

Among traditional foods circles, the ultimate – and sometimes lofty – goal is to brew a broth that produces a beautiful, solid gel.  Indeed, a solid gel is the hallmark of a successful broth.  Roasting bones and simmering them for several hours will usually produce a solid gel, but gelatin also breaks down if heat is too high or if broth is simmered too long.  For this reason you might find that the pan drippings from your roasted chicken gel quite well, but the stock prepared from the chicken’s frame won’t gel at all.  Moreover, the quality of your ingredients greatly influences the ability of your broth to produce a successful gel, sometimes the bones, meat and skin of conventionally raised chickens will not produce a gel at all, regardless of simmering and brewing under optimal conditions.

One surefire way to ensure a beautiful, mineral-dense stock that can produce a solid gel is to use a fresh pasture-raised chicken or a thawed frozen pasture-raised chicken, including the chicken feet if you’re fortunate enough to find them.  As the chicken will only undergo one period of cooking, as opposed to two (roasting and then simmering) producing a gel through this method of preparing chicken broth is more reliable.

More Broth & Stock Recipes

a recipe for fresh chicken broth

By Jenny Published: February 25, 2010

    To prepare a wholesome, mineral-rich chicken broth, you’ll need a heavy-bottomed stock pot as well as a fine mesh sieve. I keep kitchen scraps: carrot peelings, onion ends, celery leaves and bits of leek in a gallon-sized plastic bag in my freezer. While some purists insist that broth should not be prepared from vegetable scraps, I find that doing so cuts down on kitchen waste and expense. There’s value in finding a use for every item in your kitchen.

    Ingredients

    • 1 whole pasture-raised chicken (rinsed, cleaned with organs removed)
    • 2 chicken feet (peeled with talons removed, if you can find them)
    • 1 gallon miscellaneous vegetable scraps (onions, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, leeks)
    • 2-3 dried bay leafs
    • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • filtered water (to cover)

    Instructions

    1. Add the whole chicken to a heavy-bottomed stock pot, cover with vegetable scraps, bay leafs and peppercorns.
    2. Cover with very cold filtered water into which you’ve stirred two tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
    3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for four to six hours – skimming off any scum or foam that appears at the surface.
    5. After four to six hours of slow, gentle simmering, remove the pot from heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve or a colander lined with 100% cotton cheesecloth into jars or bowls to store.
    6. Refrigerate and cool until the broth sets into a firm gel.