How to Make Chicken Stock

There are several ways to make chicken stock. Two of our favorite methods are presented here. The first method uses the leftover bones from a chicken carcass and vegetables, and takes several hours of slow cooking. We often use this method when we’ve roasted a chicken and have a leftover carcass. It’s a great way to not let good bones go to waste. In the second method, you start with chicken backs and wings, and sauté them first. This method takes about an hour total and is a quick way to get a rich and delicious stock.

How to Make Chicken Stock

  • Yield: About 2 quarts of stock


Method 1. Leftover Chicken Bones

  • Leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper

1 Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, parsley. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.

2 Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occassionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.

3 Remove the bones and strain the stock.

4 If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering an hour or two longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

Method 2. Quick Chicken Stock with chicken backs, wings, and legs.

  • 4 lbs of chicken backs, wings, and/or legs that have been hacked with a cleaver into 2-inch pieces. You can ask your butcher to prepare the chicken pieces this way.
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped.
  • Olive oil
  • 2 quarts of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 bay leaves

1 Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one chopped onion. Sauté until softened and slightly colored - 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

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2 Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot. Sauté until no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onions. Sauté the rest of the chicken the same way. Return onion and chicken pieces to the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

3 While the chicken pieces are cooking, fill a large tea kettle with 2 quarts of water, bring to a boil.

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4 After the chicken pieces have been cooking for 20 minutes, raise the heat level to high, add the 2 quarts of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 bay leaves. Return to a low simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then cover and barely simmer for about 20 minutes.

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5 Strain stock through cheesecloth or paper towel-lined large sieve, and discard solids. (It helps to remove the big pieces of bone with a slotted spoon first.)

Pour into jars and let cool, before putting into the refrigerator. Stock will last a week or so in the refrigerator or frozen for several months.

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This second method comes from The Best Recipe cookbook by Cook's Illustrated. They got it from In Pursuit of Flavor, by Edna Lewis. This makes a truly flavorful stock. With chicken backs at about $1 lb, a good value as well.

Method 3: Use Chicken Feet

See How to make stock from chicken feet. If you have access to chicken feet, they make the most fabulous gelatinous stock.

Note about the Fat

I've seen a lot of newer cookbooks advocate the skimming of the fat from the stock. We prefer the traditional method of letting the fat settle in a layer on top of the stock as it cools. This way, the fat acts as a protective layer against bacteria, which is found in the air. The stock will last longer if you keep the fat layer on it.

Just lift up the layer of fat and remove the stock when you want to use it. Every few days, bring the stock to a simmer for 10 minutes and let it cool, again with the fat forming a protective layer. Your stock can be stored in the refrigerator and used for up to a couple of weeks this way.

View Comments / Leave a Comment


  1. clotilde

    For some reason, making chicken stock has always sounded very daunting to me, so it’s great to have this “chicken stock 101″! Thanks a lot!

  2. elise

    Hi Clotilde, making chicken stock is pretty easy, especially via the braising method, as it doesn’t take so long. Also with this method there is no scum/foam to skim off. And it tastes so good! It also yields chicken fat that can be used in other recipes.

  3. Carol-Ann Pilson

    I have just boned 3kilos of chicken thighs, and made your method 1 chicken stock out of the bones, do you have a chicken soup recipe I can use it with? maybe a chicken noodle soup my kids love it!!

  4. MsOktober

    I got a free frozen turkey back in November and I finally made it for our super bowl party. I’m going to use method 1 and make turkey stock!

  5. StockMaster

    What’s the difference between stock and broth???

    Salt – Stock has no salt so actually what you have is a broth recipe but it’s a good recipe if you really want stock just exclude the salt then add it later like most European Style Chefs do. Also a neat little trick so it lasts longer is reduce stock by half and freeze your stock in ice cubes and take out only what you need it will last for a month rather than a week…

  6. A Non Mouse.

    Actually, the difference between broth and stock is the amount of flesh to bone used and more importantly the resulting gelatin content. Stocks have more bones than flesh and vice versa with broths. For example to make a broth you’d generally use a whole stewing hen in place of an equivalent weight of bones/feet. Stocks are also ‘simmered’ longer (at least 6-8 hours) to fully extract the gelatin from the bones which then can be reduced and used for a demi-glace for instance. Broths can be used for this, but it’s not as effective as they contain less gelatin. As a personal choice I never add salt until I know what I’ll use the stock for. Though everyone has their method.

    Wonderful recipes found here, regards.

  7. Casey

    I boiled 3 chicken legs to cook them through…can I use the water I boiled them in as stock?

  8. Christine

    Thanks so much for the veggie stock recipe too. Hubby doesn’t like soup but mostly chicken soup so I have been trying to find a way to make a meatless broth.

  9. halimah

    Thank you so much. I made my stock using the second method and it’s great. Now I can prepare great noodle soup and even coconut rice (nasi lemak).

  10. mark

    I don’t know if its broth or stock, but i simply boil a chicken utill cooked (30 mins)remove the meat when cooled,return all body parts(bones, skin,gizzards)back to the pot and boil another 4 hours, adding water if needed.strain and skim.done. the boiled chicken meat can be reserved,or add to the broth with some veggies for soup. never add salt to the boiling water as it will become more intense as the liquid reduces.

  11. masterpikey

    Instead ot just sauting the bones and onions, try roasting all the bones and vegtables in the oven 1st till everything is a golden brown. This will result in a slightly darker stock, but will also be richer in flavour. And I respectfully have to disagree strongly with you on one point, skimming is essential for not only removing impurities, but the skimming of the fat from stock will ensure that you end up with a stock that is clear and not cloudy.

    Oh another thing, once finished, the stock can be reduced down till almost all the water is gone. Once this is done it can be poured into ice trays and frozen. Each cube will make almost a pint of stock when aded to boiling water, you’ll never have to use those freeze dried stock cubes from the store again.

    I recently tried an experiment – made clear stock and made cloudy stock. The result? They both tasted the same. I honestly think way too much emphasis is put on having a clear stock. It really depends on what you are using the stock for. We use stock a lot for making Spanish rice, so it makes no difference if it is cloudy or clear. ~Elise

  12. luv2cook

    I have made chicken stock before, but the first method is intriguing, with the vegetables. At the risk of sounding too frugal, are there any suggestions on things to use the vegetables in additional recipes or do they cook too long? I love to cook, but I hate to waste!

    If you are being frugal, put the carrots and celery in only for the last hour of cooking. Make sure that they are big pieces so you can easily fish them out. As soon as they are cooked through, remove them. If you are making chicken soup, you can cut up the veggies and return them to the soup after you have strained the stock. ~Elise

  13. Andrea

    The first method was great. Helped stretch a chicken to make 2 meals! Thanks ;)

  14. Sherri

    Thanks for your recipe. I have severe allergies to the spices and onion and MSG that is in store-bought stock and soups, so it’s VERY nice to now be able to make my own soups.

    Quick chicken-noodle recipe that I use:

    I prepare my chicken broth ahead of time (the above recipes work great- I just leave out the onion and bay leaves).

    -I pre-cook my noodles till soft by not soggy.
    -Mix 3 parts broth to 1 part water in a small pot. Skim off fat from the broth.
    -Add salt to your preference. Usually a lot for me to add flavour.
    -Add some shredded chicken (from what I used to make the broth- usually chicken breasts w/ bone and skin)
    -Add some finely shredded carrots and celery. Other veggies as you prefer.
    -Simmer on stove till all ingredients are warm and carrot shreds are soft.
    -Let cool a bit and serve!

    You can even make this in a bowl in the microwave if you keep stock/noodles/cooked chicken in the fridge or freezer. You can also use rice instead of noodles.

  15. kathy

    A while back, I purchased chicken breasts with rib and skin, then removed bone/skin at home for inexpensive boneless/skinless chicken breasts. My method of removal was quick and left enough meat on bones to make it useful for another recipe….but for what I did not know, so I froze it. After reading about chicken stock, this seemed like the perfect use! I now have this simmering in a pot for some chicken stock, with plenty of attached meat for the soup recipe to follow. I love skinless boneless chicken, but hate paying the price for it. Now I buy with bones/skin and make my own at home, without wasting the bones!

    Music to a scratch cook’s ears. :-) ~Elise

  16. Chris

    Hi there, a quick question about the first recipe. I recently did a roast chicken to feed myself at work etc for cheap, and am going to make stock with the leftover bones etc. My question is, because I’m at work from 10 in the morning to 10 at night, I don’t really have time to spend 4 hours doing this. I was wondering if it was fine to leave it on a lower heat for longer whilst I’m at work? Admittedly I won’t be able to spoon the stuff off the surface while I’m away.

    Hello Chris, Leaving the house with the stove on and nobody to watch it is dangerous. You might want to invest in a slow cooker and make the stock in that while you are away. ~Elise

  17. chris

    I’m assuming the same would apply to the oven then even at a low heat? Was considering using one of our cast iron casserole pots to make it in.

    I’ve left an electric oven on all night, on very very low heat (150°F), but we were in the house. I wouldn’t do the same with a gas oven. I have at times left the house with something in the oven, but never for more than an hour or two. ~Elise

  18. susan

    I’d like to suggest that you investigate using a pressure cooker. Your leftover bones method, using a pressure cooker, gives you stock in 30 minutes rather than 4 hours. It is a great device for any moist heat recipe such as beef stew, bean soups, etc. Lets you make whole grains–brown rice, wheatberries, etc. in a much shorter period of time. Risottos–are perfect, with no stirring, in a third of the time. If you like risotto, it’s worth buying a cooker for that reason alone. You’d think I work for a pressure-cooker company, but I don’t. I have two of the Kuhn-Rikon models, and these tools allow me to pull together scratch meals in a fraction of the time–the Lorna Sass book, Cooking Under Pressure, is a great resource.

    Pressure cookers are great when you’re in a hurry. We use ours all the time for cooking pinto beans or black beans. When it comes to stock, we are usually filling up a pot more with bones than our pressure cooker can hold, and stock cooking lends itself well to low, gentle heat, a bare simmer, which is easier to control if it is on the stove and you can check it easily. ~Elise

  19. dana

    Personally you can’t measure chicken stock. It is a throw in recipe. I put in onion, carrots, celery, dill, parsley, chicken and let it cook. I drain off the fat. Sometimes I leave the chicken in. Greenfields noodles are the best with chicken soup. It is the true jewish chicken soup for the cold. 3 generations down. It has not failed and my kids love it. You can try matzo ball with it too.

  20. Mitchell Webster

    Good Morning Elise,

    Kathy above in the comments had told about purchasing Split Chicken Breasts and deboning them herself, I always do that believe it or not you can actually get the split breasts on sale for as little as 99 cent/lb. and it is a win/win.
    I de-bone the breast, remove the skin and put with the bones. I usually can or freeze the breast.
    Then I take the bones and skin, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until golden brown (as described under the beef stock recipe) Then take that and place in the stock pot with water to cover, and proceed as you discribed adding vegetable and simmering for a long long time.

    I also, will add here, that there used to be a French Woman on TV, that said to Always save your Brown Onion Skins, in an airtight container, then when you have a rather anemic looking broth, you just cook a hand full of the onion skins in the broth, and you come out with a beautiful amber colored stock, she was right and have done this for the last 15 years.
    Your site is wonderful, I just love it.

  21. Cherie

    I have several questions about this recipe. For method one you use the bones of an already roasted chicken? Because taking the meat off the bones of an uncooked chicken sounds very time consuming.
    In method 2 the meat is just thrown away? Is it possible to cook just until the meat comes off easily then remove the meat from the bones to be used in a soup or other recipe?

    For method one, yes you do use the bones of an already roasted chicken. For method two, yes the meat is just discarded. But if you want, as soon as the meat is cooked through, you can remove it from the bones. I usually use this method with chicken backs, not much meat there to work with. ~Elise

    • Linda

      I just cut up a chicken for the grill and used method 2 for the back and wing tips. I used a small handful of coarsely chopped onion, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 bay leaf, and 1 quart of water and it turned out great. I’ll be using to make yellow rice to go with that chicken.

      • Linda

        Forgot to add that I pulled the meat off the bones and it came to 3/4 cup to freeze and use later in something else.

  22. Leesa

    A word of caution for making chicken stock.
    When transfering hot chicken stock to containers, plastic or otherwise, be careful that it doesnt get splashed on the floor or on the outside of containers.
    CHICKEN STOCK CAN BE SLIPPERY and result in a wipe out in the kitchen.
    I once was carrying a big container of it and it slipped right out of my hands and all over the floor…
    Same as when it is in the fridge, it can slip right out of your hands and make a huge mess in the fridge.
    When wiping using a cloth, make sure you do not use it again, as trace fatty deposits can be transfered and create a disaster.

  23. Cia Dreves

    Informative and appreciated.

  24. Catherine

    You can be more frugal with the vegetables by saving and using your vegetable trimmings, parings and peelings. For example use the tops, banged up outer stalks and ends of celery, the peels, papery skins and first layer but not the root end of onions, the carrot peels, ends and all as well as any vegetables that start to go floppy but not spoiled entirely. These are adding flavor and their texture will not be an issue so you do want to use them in your stock. You can even use onions that have started to sprout as long as you take out all the green bits. Oh, the onion skins add a lovely golden color to the stock.

    I always end up with more parsley than I can use, so into the bag it goes as well. Collect them them in bags in the freezer as the months go by. In another bag, save up your chicken parts and bones and in yet another your beef trimmings and bones. Ask at the meat counter or butcher’s for their trimmings and ends and bones. Everything goes directly into the freezer bags after a good rinse or scrubbing.

    Then you pick a good day to hang around the house and get going.

    On that note, has anyone tried using a crock pot for the long slow cooking process? Is the heat low enough and constant enough for successfull stock making? It seems to me that it ought to be a good way to get a low, slow, constant heat without heating up the whole kitchen. I’m a little leary of deviating from success but, the thought of making stock during the summer months, rather than waiting for fall and cool weather plus the safety and efficiency factor of not having the range burning all day long is really appealing to me.

  25. Alison

    Catherine, I just made a batch of chicken stock in my slow cooker for the first time last week. It let it cook much longer than I would on the stove (about 18 hours–first hour on high, the rest on low) and it turned out delicious. I actually think if I’d let it go up to 24 hours it would have been even better.

    I reduced it and froze in ice cube trays, and I’m now waiting for cooler weather so I can make some yummy yummy chicken soup…mmmm….

  26. Dawn

    A tip for method 1…to really get the most flavor out of the chicken bones, try soaking them in cold water overnight. Then, put that water and the bones into the pot to use as part the stock.

  27. Melinda G

    I have a super frugal question – is there any use for the vegetables and meat that is left over from making the stock – assuming that I’m not putting them into the soup? Thanks in advance!

    You can use them to feed a dog or cat (that’s what we do). Or, you can pull the meat from the bones after it has cooked through (about 30 minutes) and use them for a different dish. ~Elise

  28. Kara

    Re. feeding your dog the leftover chicken bones and vegetables – it is safest to never feed your dog cooked chicken bones. Raw bones are ok, and perhaps if the bones have been boiled for so long that they are crumbly, it may be ok, but know the risk. Also, onions are POISONOUS to dogs. It causes severe anemia, and they could die.

    Chicken bones are bad for dogs because they splinter. Cooked chicken, pulled off the bones for making stock, shouldn’t be a problem. Good to know about the onions, thank you! ~Elise

  29. Susan

    Last night I made chicken stock from the skin and bones from two rotisserie chickens (a staple here in Germany). I put the hot liquid in a bowl to cool, and then refrigerated it overnight. After work today, I took the lid off, and found I have a gelatinous stock, without using the chicken feet method. Anyone know why?

    There is gelatin in all of the bones, not just the chicken feet. There is more gelatin in the feet though, so it is easier to get gelatin if you have feet. ~Elise

  30. alice brandon hudages

    Hi, I’m Alice. I have three children and a husband. We all loved your chicken stock. It is so easy to cook and it is really yum to eat. We would just like to post this to say thank you for putting a smile on our faces. 2nd july 2010.

    You are very welcome Alice! ~Elise

  31. Derek

    I have a recipe which uses chicken stock and chicken juice. May I know what’s the difference?

    I’ve never heard of chicken juice. Sounds like something got translated and the translation was a little screwy. ~Elise

  32. Corey

    This stock came out wonderful. I really got tired of spending money on broth when I could make my own much cheaper. I used legs and then used the meat for pulled bbq sandwiches and enchiladas. :)

  33. Da food

    Very helpful. My wife and kids love the soup that I make from this. Thanks!

  34. Stacey

    I have very gelatinous turkey stock (made using a slow cooker overnight). I then used the stock to make turkey soup that night. The soup was very rich (good, I thought), but too rich for my young kids who are used to store-bought broth. How do I make it more palatable for my kids? Thanks.

    Just dilute it with water. ~Elise

  35. Joanne

    I use boiled chicken in a number of dishes. A lot of times the broth is not need. I put it in the refrigerator, but often do not use it right away and wind up throwing it away. Can I can the left over broth as is? If so, what is the procedure. Thanks.

    Yes, you can use the leftover broth from boiling chicken. You may want to boil it down further to make it easier to store. ~Elise

  36. Theresa

    Regarding the comment by masterpikey in Oct 2007,”… the stock can be reduced down till almost all the water is gone. Once this is done it can be poured into ice trays and frozen. Each cube will make almost a pint of stock when added to boiling water,…”
    What is left when you reduced most of the water? What will I be looking for?

    It may have a melted jello-like consistency, depending on how much gelatin was rendered out of the bones. Mostly it will concentrate the flavors so you can just dilute it with water. If you tasted it, it would be strongly flavored. ~Elise

  37. Penny

    I have been making stock using Method 1 with leftover roasted chicken bones and love it, but decided to try Method 2 because I didn’t feel like roasting a chicken, and it was great. Rich golden stock and I’ll never buy another bullion cube again!

    At the natural foods market 4 pounds of backs and bones cost less than a dollar a pound. Quite a difference from when I bought oxtails for the first time, lol!

    There is a specialty store in town that sells organic chicken broth for $13 dollars a quart (thirteen!) – I’m thrilled that I can make my own for $2 a quart.

  38. RadiantLux

    Anything that encourages stock making is wonderful! It is such a healthy, delicious and frugal food. I read many years ago that a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice is important for drawing out the minerals from the bones. I mentioned that to my mother. She replied that HER mother had always done that but she never knew why.
    Chicken feet make awesome broth because of the gelatin. Broth has been used traditionally for healing. Gelatin is one of the components that is key to healing. It is very nourishing and easily digested. It will give you beautiful fingernails as well. ;)
    I simmer the bones in my crockpot for 2 days. I find it tastes better when I don’t use vegetables. Maybe I could use vegtables if they were simmered for less time. I’ll have to try adding them on 2nd day. I know it is done when I can squish the bones with my fingers. After I strain it, it becomes dog food. He loves it!

  39. Dawn

    If I use raw chicken legs do I have to drain water or just add all my veg to the water I boiled the chicken in?

    Just add the vegetable to the water with the chicken bones. ~Elise

  40. Jenn

    I usually start my stock one afternoon, turn the heat off and cover it overnight, then continue simmering the next day. I just save my food scraps (onion tops, celery tops, carrot tops, any veggies that are about to go bad) in the freezer and simmer the whole lot, and the results are delicious! I can’t believe I used to make soup with that powdered bouillon, yuck!

    One question- most recipes say to occasionally skim the foam (not the fat, but the foam) off the top. Why? What is that foam? It’s been bugging me for a while, hope you can help. :-)

    According to a Culinary Institute of America site, “The foam that rises to the top of your stock comes from fat and impurities from the meat that chefs refer to as soluble cell proteins.” The foam is perfectly edible, but will cloud your stock, so it is recommended that it is removed. ~Elise

  41. Savanna

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I am planning on storing the stock in 1 cup freezer jam containers. Walmart has them for $3/5 cups. I wonder if they will thaw with the fatty layer intact on top.

  42. sam

    thanks for the help here… my girl is a begginer to cooking and i am trying to help her learn to make more flavorful foods. I knew the basic idea of making a chicken stock, but having some specific guidelines helps a lot… anyway, this should add some much needed zip to her basic noodle mix… she’s been mixing rice noodles, fried egg, sauted onion and woodear mushroom–but the noodles and mushroom just taste water logged, this should help her a lot; as well with a little cornstarch and basic spices i think we can turn it into a nice sauce for other chinese dishes!

  43. Chris K

    Love this. I always par boil my chicken before it goes on the grill. I’m never quite sure what to do with the leftover stock. This answered my question, including how to keep the stock fresh for a few weeks. Thanks a million for these tips.

  44. Big Boy

    Actually stock is simple, 80% bones 20% mirepoix and 100% cold water. To make beef stock or brown stock smear the bones with tomatoe paste first then roast in very hot oven until browned. The tomatoe helps them brown. Another thing I do is called rewetting. This is simply reusing the old bones later for even more flavor.

  45. Mary

    Silly question I know.. May I mix turkey and chicken carcasses together to make the stock?

    Yes. ~Elise

  46. Peggy

    My parents always try to mix different types of bones or meat for stock. It makes for a more rounded flavour or something on the lines of that. They use a mix of pork and chicken usually.

  47. DJ

    I just did this last night. Bought a frying chicken and used the wings and body to make the stock. Today, we are having oven fried chicken with a spinach cream soup made from my stock that will not be frozen. So simple and so yummy!

  48. Philip Gannon

    Recipes all generally fine, but a pressure cooker speeds up process. The main thing pressure prevents is volume reduction – open top vessel needed. For a quick soup pressure cook.

  49. Tabitha

    My go-to instructions for stock. I have made both methods 1 & 2. Both are great if not BETTER tasting than Swanson or generic store bought! I followed the instructions, did not alter a thing, very pleased with the outcome.

  50. Philip Gannon

    Three or four chicken frames fit in the pressure cooker. Half an hour on low gives stock and the residual meat comes off easily with a fork. Cool and freezer for 30-40 mins peel off fat and start thinking of chicken recipes.

  51. Starlynn

    Hello, sorry if this seems like a dumb question! You mentioned the braising method “yielding chicken fat that can be used in other recipes”…I boiled a carcass to make the stock, is the fat in this stock not to be eaten? Or did you recommend the braised fat because it tastes better?

    • Elise

      Hi Starlynn, I’m not sure what you mean by your question. If you boil a carcass to make stock, fat will be released and will bubble up to the top. You can use that for cooking too if you want. We usually keep the fat on the stock when we refrigerate it because the fat helps create a protective barrier between the stock and microbes in the air.

  52. Starlynn

    Thanks for your reply Elise, sorry I was not clear. I did read about the protective barrier of fat and just took it literally that that is all that fat is to be used for! For all I know that fat might be rancid from prolonged boiling….not that that happens, but my mind goes places because I am not a confident cook and I don’t want to do anything wrong! Thank you for the clarification:)

  53. roy

    I read somewhere that the chicken fat on the top is schmaltz and can be used to fry potatoes, etc. Somewhat like what duck fat is used for frying, as seems to be the rage on foodie tv shows nowadays.

  54. Jenn

    what do you do with the meat and veggies? Since they are strained, do you throw them out?

    • Elise

      Hi Jenn, after simmering the meat and vegetables for several hours, there is no nutritional value left in them (all of the goodness has gone into the stock), so yes, you throw them out.

      • Jenn

        Thank you for the reply. Veggies loosing their nutritional value after several hours of cooking makes sense. Thanks for the post and helping us to get back to the basics! :)

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