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I have cooked chicken stock at least 8 times and can't get it to gel. I really want to rip my hair out. Besides not getting it to gel, I don't understand the heat thing. Some places say that if you heat it too high or let it boil too long then you will destroy the gelatin. But other places say that you can boil down you stock so it becomes super concentrated and can be reconstituted with water later. So which is it? Will boiling too long destroy the gelatin?
I have been using a 4 pound chicken (not bones, a whole chicken) and 3 quarts of water, 2 t of vinegar. I let is sit for one hour and then turn my crockpot up to high until it simmers, bubbles coming to the top. Then I turn it down for 24 hours.
I'm not Sarah - but I have a lot of stock experience. I would first suggest trying less water - yes you'll get less stock, but it will be more concentrated. I always used to put too much water in mine and it wouldn't gel until I started using less water.
Also, if it's a store bought chicken, they are processed at about 8 weeks of age. 8 weeks does not give the birds much time to form gelatin in their tissues, so you really aren't going to get a lot in your stock. If you ever get a chance, use an old laying hen - they are FULL of gelatin - making stock with them is a very different experience.
I love making stock! My stock gels so hard it barely jiggles when you bump it. I had to learn because my whole family has horrible joints, but the pain of damaged joints has reduced since we started eating "bone broth".
Gelatin comes from connective tissues (collagen), and is not damaged by boiling. The worst you'll do when you boil stock is make it cloudy. Not exactly earth-shattering. The part of the chicken that has the most of collagen is tendons and cartiledge, especially found in the wings. So cook your chickens for dinner and enjoy the meat, then save every part you don't eat. Bones, skin, neck, back, wings, yep, all of that. If you don't have any leftover chicken carcasses hanging around you can pick up some wings quite cheaply. Throw all the chicken bits in the slow cooker with your aromatics (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) and herbs and spices (pepper, bay leaf, herbs), smack everything as flat as possible and add just enough water to just barely cover it. Then crank it to high, then down to low once it simmers, and go do something else for 3-6 hours. Strain, cool, and you're done.
I would also suggest not using the whole chicken. Take the meat off and throw everything else back in. And here is the ultimate guarantee that it will gel... chicken feet, chicken feet, chicken feet! You will never have a gel problem again!!
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