Heads, Feet, Necks..Oh My! Using Odds & Ends to Make Stock

I have a confession.

I haven’t made stock in over 3 weeks (…or maybe even more)! I was making homemade chicken stock nearly every week but I totally fell off the band wagon. I ran out of my normal inventory that I usually make stock with; leftover bones and stewing hens (I know, that is no excuse!). Stock is used in replacement of things I need to cook with water, like rice. The rice tastes so much better and it’s been cooked with a nutrient-dense, easy to digest liquid.

You can also use stock to make gravies, sauces, and use in homemade soups. I’ve even seen stock used in replacement of milk/cream when making mashed potatoes if you are dairy free!

Our Bag of Odds & Ends

I took a trip to our local farm the other day in hopes they would have a stewing hen or maybe bones that I could make a pot of stock with. Unfortunately they had neither but the guy took me over to a separate freezer chest and told me I could make the stock with heads, necks and feet.

Surprisingly the idea of putting heads in the stock pot did not disturb me so I accepted the suggestion and went home with two bags of heads and necks (I already had a bag of chicken feet in the freezer).

When I got home and actually took the heads out of the zip lock bag to put in the stock pot however, my confidence sort of diminished and I must confess that my stomach did a little loop-dee-loop. I think I probably would have been much better if I didn’t see the eyes. But, I pushed on through and told myself “this is all part of it.”

Please keep in mind I’m talking about making stock with heads, feet and necks but it can be made with a whole uncooked chicken or a left over carcass/random bones from a baked chicken. If you can get at least feet, do it because it adds loads of extra gelatin.

Making Stock

Once I had all the odds and ends in the pot, I covered it with water, added 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, one chopped onion (skin and all) and let it sit for 30 minutes. The reason I do this is to allow more of the minerals to be drawn from the bones. I usually throw in some celery and carrots but I did not have any on hand so I omitted it. Stock can be made either way. It’s a bonus if you have veggies to throw in there because of the extra vitamins and minerals.

After 30 minutes I turn the heat on high and bring the water to a boil. If any foam comes to the top, I skim it off because that contains “off flavors.” One thing I did notice with the heads is the water foamed a lot more. I almost did a double take because it looked like dish soap had accidentally fallen into the water because of how many bubbles there were. I’m not sure what caused this but I definitely never had it happen when I made stock out of a cooked carcass.

Once the stock has been boiling for about 15 minutes, I turn the heat on low and let it simmer for 12-24 hours. Literally, all you want is a very gentle boil.

If I have fresh parsley on me, I’ll throw that into the mix for the last 10 minutes to give it another little boost of vitamins. You can omit this step if you do not have parsley.

Let the stock cool then pour the stock into a different bowl. Make sure to use a mesh wire sieve to catch all your odds and ends or bones. You can either chuck the bones or throw them in the pot for another use. Personally I have never reused the bones but this last time I made stock with the odds and ends, I thought “what the hey” and threw them in for another round. The stock I made with the second round of odds and ends turned out great!

Transferring Your Liquid Gold

At this point you can either choose to let the stock cool in the refrigerator (with a lid on it) or you can transfer them into whatever container you will be using to freeze them. Either way, you have to let it cool before you put it in the freezer. I save all my glass jars so my stock goes right into those. You can use whatever you have on hand that is freezable.

If you are using glass…. take caution to not over fill your container. They will break. You don’t want them to break because stock = liquid gold. I’ve done this before and was devastated.

It’s hard to tell but all these jars are broken!

My stock ended up in the refrigerator to cool before I transferred it. Some people like to take the fat that ends up on the top and saving it to cook with. I skip this step and freeze the stock with the fat.

When it’s time to transfer your liquid gold into smaller containers it’s best to use a funnel. I’ve been making my own stock for almost 2 years now and I’ve never used a funnel. However, it has always been messy because it is inevitable that I will get it all over the place. Again, no good because you want to savor every last bit of your liquid gold. I just recently picked up a funnel and it was amazing! Very little drippage if any!

Jello for Stock?

I was very surprised this time when it came time to pour my stock in the containers. It literally looked like jello! I couldn’t believe it. 95% of the time when I make stock, I get a good amount of gelatin. But this time it was practically ALL gelatin! I literally couldn’t believe my eyes.

Gelatin is what you are trying to shoot for when making stock because it gives your teeth, bones, hair, nails and joints a boost! To learn more about why broth/stock is good for you, read here.

I had a very proud moment and realized that making stock with odds and ends was definitely worth it. As long as you can get past the eyes, I highly suggest using the heads and feet. It’s a very inexpensive way of making stock and you can reuse the pieces to make a second or third batch of your very own liquid gold!

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Aside from being a wannabe backyard homesteader who wrangles chickens and free-range kids, Loriel is the owner/creator of the professional natural lifestyle blog Naturally Loriel, owner of the organic spice blend business Naturally Free, and freelance professional food photographer.

'Heads, Feet, Necks..Oh My! Using Odds & Ends to Make Stock' has 10 comments

  1. June 3, 2013 @ 5:18 pm bren r.

    I noticed you are using jars to store it in. Do you put glass jars in the freezer?


  2. June 10, 2013 @ 9:17 pm Pixieleah

    How long is stock ‘good’ for?


  3. June 11, 2013 @ 1:23 am Anonymous

    hi, do you make the stock with the skin on the bones as well?


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    • November 16, 2016 @ 10:25 am Doris

      Hi Loriel when you use the chicken feet do you remove the toe nails? I buy my chicken from a local chicken farm the woman who sold me the feet said “remember to remove the toenails from the feet” I’m not sure why except maybe they would com off in the stock which if your going to strain it anyhow shouldn’t matter. I did remove them at first one at a time kind of weird do it that way the second time I took a meat cleaver and just chopped the tip of the toes off much faster…..so getting back to my question do you do any prepping to the head and feet before using them. Also do you rinse the chicken parts before putting them in the pot? Thanks I love reading your post.


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