Chicken & Bone Stock

© 2012  Peter Smith –Holistic Medicine Consultant-

Traditional and nourishing stock made from the bones and leftovers of meat is incredibly easy to make and significantly adds health promoting/anti-ageing nutrients to your diet.  
It adds a natural collagen source of hyaluronic acid, Glycosaminoglycans, minerals and other useful nutrients which people pay good money to supplement see health benefits below.
Simply put leftover, off-cuts, bones, chicken carcasses etc. into a stock pot or slow cooker, cover with water, bring it to the boil, skim off the surface scum that may rise, add vinegar or lemon juice to acidify the water, turn the heat down and leave it to simmer for a long time. The next day strain the mixture through a sieve and store the stock in the fridge or freezer. 

What to Do with the Stock 

Homemade stock will add both health benefits and a gourmet touch to your food, it enriches the flavour and satiating (hunger satisfying) quality of almost any meal. For example making a vegetable soup with the stock instead of water makes a much more tasty, satisfying and nutritious meal. 
Dahl, lentil or bean soup is so much better when made with some chicken stock used in place of the water. 
You absolutely can use chicken stock when you make fish dishes like fish soup; make a spicy lentil soup using two thirds water and one third stock, and simply place boneless white fish fillets in the soup for the last eight minutes to make a delicious fish soup. 
Add some stock whenever you're making a curry for extra flavour and you could.

You can even add a few spoons or an ice cube of the stock (see storage) when you’re cooking rice. 

The Nutritional Benefits

Simmering bones for a long time in acidified water dissolves the minerals out of the bone matrix releasing: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, fluoride, sodium and potassium. 
Breaking down the cartilage (in the joints), bone marrow, skin, ligaments and tendons releases gelatine, chondroitin, keratin sulphate, elastin, collagen, hyalurinic acid and the amino acids glycine and proline. 

The Minerals.

The resultant mineral rich liquid is perfect mixture to build and maintain healthy bones, see my separate information on bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Along with bone health minerals are essential for many other systems and functions in the body and adding home-made stock to your dishes supplements these valuable nutrients.


GAGs (chondroitin sulphate, keratin sulphate and hyaluronic acid) can be taken as (expensive) supplements and have been shown to have therapeutic effects against arthritis and degenerative joint disease. Making stock each week supplements these joint-health benefiting nutrients in your diet. 
GAGs are the main thing that gives a strong stock its jelly-like quality. 

Hyaluronic Acid.

This molecule is highly hydrophilic or water attracting. It is often added to quality moisturising products to increase the amount of water held in the skin. Consuming hyaluronic acid can benefit by hydrating and “plumping up” cartilage, the walls of the intestines and the skin. 

Chondroitin Sulphate.

Research has shown this molecule to improve joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. Research has also shown it may reduce cholesterol and heart attacks.

Collagen and Gelatine

Collagen is an expensive supplement that people take for its anti wrinkle effects. Supplementing collagen benefits more than just the skin it helps to maintain the structural integrity of all the tissues of the body including the cartilage in your joints, tendons, ligaments and heart muscle. Poor wound healing may also benefit from supplementing collagen. It is recommended to supplement collagen after surgery. 
When you eat a strong stock, (I use three chicken carcasses in a 4 L slow cooker), you should get a “furry” feeling on your teeth, this is the large amount of collagen in the stock sticking to and coating your teeth. It’s a sign that you’ve made a collagen rich stock. 

The gelatine -along with the collagen- helps to maintain and repair damage to the lining of the intestines that can result from yeast and parasitic infections. This can cause leaky-gut syndrome and food sensitivities. Gelatine has also been shown to help digestion in general improving hyper- and hypo-stomach acidity. It helps the digestion of dairy food (consider adding it to infant formulas), beans and grains, particularly improving gluten digestion. 
Gelatine has been beneficially added to the diets of people wanting to gain weight and convalescing from a period of illness. It is also highly recommended for poor digestion, gastro-oesophageal reflux, ulcers, inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), leaky gut syndrome with food allergies, malnutrition and malabsorption.

The Amino Acids: Proline and Glycine


Not only does a good stock directly supplement collagen, but it is also rich in the amino acid proline that your body uses to manufacture its own collagen. This reduces the loss of collagen that occurs through the ageing process.   If anti-ageing is your goal supplement vitamin C and carnosine in addition to eating stock. 
Smokers beware, smoking can turn proline into a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), so hypothetically adding stock to your diet and continuing to smoke may actually increase your risk of cancer. 
If you’re interested I do a stopping smoking program using cognitive hypnotherapy, see my website the details. 


The amino acid glycine has many roles in the body. One considers supplementing glycine in people with poor wound healing, gout, benign prostate hypertrophy, high cholesterol and mania associated with bipolar syndrome. Don’t misunderstand me I’m not suggesting that chicken stock is a practical treatment for bipolar syndrome, but glycine is perhaps the third most significant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system and generous consumption may contribute to an overall calming effect. In my clinic I use high doses of glycine (3 to 10 g) to control hypomania especially with aggressive behaviour.

Interestingly since making a weekly stock I have eaten much less meat, the nutrition in the stock so satisfying it has observably decreased in my desire for meat foods, it seems as if I was previously eating larger amounts of meat to try and obtain some of the nutrients that I now obtain from the stock. 

Improve Your Intestinal Health with Chicken Stock

As mentioned above your stock contains hyaluronic acid, collagen and gelatin which help restore and maintain the walls of the intestines. Add chicken stock to your diet if you have leaky gut syndrome.

Leaks, onions and Jerusalem artichokes contain what are called pre-biotic foods that encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines. Eating a couple of leaks each week beneficially supplements your diet with these pre-biotic substances and if you have had digestive health problems especially leaky gut syndrome you may gain benefits by eating home-made stock and leaks soup on a regular basis.
What I recommend is preparing stock then using it to make leak, celery, carrot and potato soup. Substitute sweet potatoes or pop barley if you’re on a very low GI diet. 
Chicken stock is a great addition to children's and infant food. 

Sourcing the Ingredients

Chicken makes the classic stock, the raw materials are pretty easy to get hold of and the resulting stock can be used in almost any dish even fish dishes. 
If you can get raw organic chicken carcasses they’re ideal, alternatively organic chicken wings are easier to get a hold of (Waitrose/Ocado Stock organic chicken wings). You can use absolutely everything, all the bones, joints, skin etc; you can use cooked and/or raw leftovers. Once you’ve experienced the health and flavour benefits of making your own stock you’ll want to buy whole chickens rather than more expensive prepared meat that is already boned and skinned. You can roast the whole chicken, eat the meat then use the leftovers in your stock along with several raw easily available chicken wings. Alternatively you can butcher the raw chicken yourself to obtain breast fillets, thighs etc. You'll need a very sharp knife, see YouTube for instructions.

You can make a darker stock using lamb shoulders, oxtails, beef bones and duck necks, however the stocks they produce has quite a strong flavour which may not be to everybody's taste and is less useful in the kitchen. To make a stock from large bones such as beef bones takes a very long time, you will need to keep its simmering for at least two days and it may give off a strong smell.

Fish stock made from fish heads, spines and tales is delicious and healthy but because it adds a fishy taste to your dishes may have less uses in the kitchen; also obtaining the raw materials can be difficult in the UK.

Basic Recipe

Gourmet chefs will roast the bones and flesh prior to simmering to enhance flavour, the downside to this is that the high temperature during roasting will denature the collagen and amino acids that we’re after, I only do this at Christmas when I’m more interested in flavour than health. 
Combining some roasted chicken leftovers with raw chicken wings or carcasses greatly enhances the flavour of a stock. 
  • Put the flesh, bones, skin everything you can get a hold of into a stockpot and cover with water. 
  • Bring the water up to a boil, skim off any foam if there is any until all the stops forming. 
  •  Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for every litre of water you use. 
  •  Add optional herbs and spices. I always add 5 to 8 large slices of ginger for flavour and digestion, several Birds Eye chillis just enough to enrich and intensified the flavour, several stalks of celery adds an optional salty flavour, some people add whole garlic cloves and bay leaves. Many recipes will suggest you add carrots and other vegetables when you make your stock however I suggest using just water, herbs and spices to make a chicken only stock then cook your vegetables for a shorter amount of time thereby preserving the valuable vegetable fibre that would be completely destroyed with the long cooking time required to make a good stock. 
  •  Put the lid on, turn the heat down to a low simmer and leave it alone from overnight to 2 days. 14-36 hours is ideal for chicken and fish, 24-72 hours for big bones like beef. 
  •  After six hours also give a good stir to separate the joints and the flesh from the bones to expose more of the surface of the bones and enable them to dissolve. 
  • Top up with hot water if needed to keep the flesh covered. 
  •  Adding vegetables is entirely optional and not the best way to eat your vegetables. As the very long cooking time will completely break down the valuable fibre in the vegetables. The only good reasons I can see to put vegetables into this stock at this point is for enhanced flavour or to add potassium if lowering your blood pressure is your goal. The vegetable of choice to enhance flavour is celery, and the vegetable of choice to enhance potassium would be carrots. 
  •  Don’t bother about spooning off all the fat that rises to the top as it cooks, it’s so much easier to leave it there, let it float to the top and solidify in the fridge and remove it in one easy go later on. 
  •  Once your stock is ready strain it through a sieve into completely clean storage containers and store in the fridge. 
Ideally your stock should have so much collagen and amino acids in it that it turn out with a slight jellylike consistency. To achieve this I use 3 whole chicken carcasses or the scraps from a whole roasted chicken and about 4-6 chicken wings in about three the half litres of water.

The perfect device for preparing home-made stock is a slow cooker. If you’re putting raw meat into a slow cooker you will have to read the instructions and find a way to bring the temperature up to boiling point fairly quickly to kill the bacteria and to make the foam rise so that you can skim it off. You may have to do this on the stove in a pan first and then transfer it to the slow cooker. 

Storing Your Stock

Most references say it will keep for five days in the fridge, however the long cooking time will have completely sterilised the everything and as long as the sieve used to strain it and containers you put it into are completely sterile (straight from the dishwasher is ideal) it will easily keep for more than a week. Alternatively it will keep in a freezer for six months. Some people put their stock into ice cube trays to make frozen stock cubes that can conveniently be added to any thing you’re cooking. To make the frozen stock cues refrigerate first so that the floating fat hardens and can easily be removed, then freeze in usable portions. Make sure everything that touches the stock is scrupulously hygienic. Personally I prepare a stock once per week. 
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