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Organic chicken stock is produced using organic products and techniques but shares many properties with other types of stock. Making chicken stock at home is a relatively simple but moderately time-consuming process. Cooks who are pressed for time or who simply wish to focus their limited time and attention on other parts of the cooking process can select one of several varieties of organic chicken stock in most grocery stores.
A stock is a light, clear, flavorful liquid that is used to produce rich and hearty soups and sauces. Typically, stocks are prepared by gently boiling several ingredients for a long period of time in order to allow flavor from the ingredients to diffuse into the surrounding water. Once stock has been boiled, the solid components are generally strained out, leaving behind a light liquid that is rich in flavor but has many of the same properties as water. Stocks are often made using the odds and ends that are left over when a carcass has been carved up or when vegetables have been cut and trimmed. These leftover pieces are not suitable for eating but are rich in flavor.
In order to qualify as organic chicken stock, every component and process involved in the preparation of a batch of stock must be certified as organic. In most nations, this means that the foods in question must be manufactured without the use of pesticides, drugs, and other chemicals and additives. The specific criteria needed to earn an organic certification vary from region to region, but this designation, unlike descriptions such as “natural,” typically has a specific legal meaning and cannot simply be used for advertising purposes.
The first step in constructing an organic chicken stock involves breaking down and boiling the leftover portions of an organic chicken carcass. Bones and leftover bits of meat are then cooked in water for several hours, until their flavor has been thoroughly captured. In many cases, a chicken stock will also include other ingredients. Onions, carrots, and celery are all commonly cooked into chicken stock as their flavors blend well with each other and with chicken. Herbs and other vegetables may be added to taste, and any flavors that work well with chicken are usually tasty when added to organic chicken stock.
Although the process of cooking stock is simple, it is time consuming, and the finished stock can be difficult to store for long periods. Many cooks opt to purchase pre-packaged organic chicken stock, especially for use in applications where the stock will be combined with strong flavors that would largely eclipse the subtle character of a homemade stock. In the United States and in most other nations, stock labeled as organic can be relied upon to be free of chemicals and additives.