We made turkey stock of out our Thanksgiving scraps. We simmered the turkey bones (unroasted) and all the vegetable trimmings for about 7 hours, and then chilled everything and stashed it in the refrigerator overnight.

But the chilled stock doesn't have any jelly-like thickness to it. It's pretty much a tan-colored liquid.

Without the gelatin-induced thickness, is this a failed stock? Can we use this "pseudo-stock" when a recipe calls for stock?

  • What was the ratio of bones and meat to water? – SAJ14SAJ Nov 28 '12 at 17:51
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    Umm, I don't really know how to answer with a ratio. There was a lot of water - enough to cover all the solid bits, including the turkey carcass. There was at least two gallons of water. – KatieK Nov 28 '12 at 17:53
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    Did you add your drippings to this stock as well or did those go in the gravy? Depending on how long the turkey was roasted, I imagine most of the tendon and fat may have melted into the drip tray, unlike a chicken which cooks so much faster (leaving a carcass with much more intact tendon). Nonetheless, if it tastes good, it is good. Don't throw it away! – AdamO Nov 28 '12 at 19:38
  • It was a brined and roasted turkey. The pan drippings all went into the gravy. – KatieK Nov 28 '12 at 19:39

My best guess is that your stock is very weak. Two gallons of water to just the bones from one turkey will not be a strong stock.

It may well well have gelatin in it, but very thin.

I make stock for a single turkey with the wing tips (not the 'drumstick' part), the back, the neck--everything but the breast and leg/thighs in with about 1 gallon of water to start, which reduces to several quarts over the course of three-four hours.

This produces a very shaky jelly--much thinner than the one in a jar of Smuckers for example.

  • The recipes I saw say to cover all the solid ingredients with water. How in the world did you do that with only one gallon of water? – KatieK Nov 28 '12 at 17:58
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    You don't have to literally cover them--if a tiny bit sticks out, over the course of 3-4 hours, and the very occassional stir, it will all get submerged. I use a wide dutch oven (which is not ideal) so that I can get the back in without having to cut it up. Another option is to take a cleaver to all the bits and pieces, and cut them up into chunks of about 2-4 inches in size. I just don't own a cleaver. – SAJ14SAJ Nov 28 '12 at 18:01
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    If you have a heavy knife, you can use the back of the knife to crack the bones, which will help the water get in there, even if they're not all cut up. – Joe Nov 28 '12 at 18:13
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    @KatieK these recipes contain certain assumptions about pot geometry. A ratio for classic stock would be between 1.3:1 and 1.6:1 meat/bones to water. If you fill a tall stock pot with bones and (almost) cover them with water, you get this ratio. It is not "wrong" to make a very thin stock as you describe it, but you shouldn't wonder if it doesn't look and taste like classic stock. – rumtscho Nov 28 '12 at 20:25
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    I should also share that I cut my turkeys into parts (leg/thigh, breast, cut the "forearm" and "hand" off the wings, cut out the back. I do this primarily because I think the turkey roasts much better in parts. I then roast the bits bound for the stock pot at 500 until they are visibly brown for a richer stock, then put them in the stock pot. But they are far from cooked through when I do it. – SAJ14SAJ Nov 28 '12 at 20:37

If you heat some up, and add a little salt, does it taste good? Then its a successful stock.

If you want it to be thicker/stronger, simmer it a while to reduce it. As SAJ14SAJ says, that's a fairly large amount of water vs. the amount of bones.

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    Of course, don't add salt to it and then simmer it down, or it'll turn into a salt lick. (and be careful about boiling it down -- I once didn't pay attention, and boiled it dry, but the non-water bits burned something fierce ... smelled like burned hair, and the pot never really came clean after that. – Joe Nov 28 '12 at 18:14
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    Yes, I'm saying to take out a little bit, put it in a cup, microwave it, and add some salt to that. You just want it salted appropriately to taste it. – derobert Nov 28 '12 at 18:53

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