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Old 12-01-2004, 09:41 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by siniquezu
Thanks scott123. You mention that you try to get "good shade of color to my stock." Is that how you can tell that the broth has a very good amount of collogen in it? I know you can tell that you have a good amount of collagen in the broth when you are finished and it cools, it forms a gelatinous mass. Since there is no set amount of time for broth cooking, how can you tell when the broth has reached it maximum potential? Is it the color, the texture, the taste, or all of the above?
Siniquezu, what I said was I try to get a good color to my stock 'ingredients'. In other words, I roast my bones/meat/skin very carefully to achieve a nice deep dark color, without burning anything. This is strictly from a flavor (maillard compound) perspective.

As far as how long to simmer a stock for full collagen extraction, well... there's very little agreement on that. Some chefs swear by 3 hours, some 6, some 24 and everything in between. Escoffier said 12 hours (or more). Here's my take on it.

As you simmer stock, collagen is being melted, maillard compounds (color/flavor) are being formed and, in the later stages, bone is being disintegrated.

So, if a perfectly white, clear stock is your goal, you don't roast the poultry bones/meat/skin, and you simmer it for a minimal amount of time to prevent bone disintegration (cloudiness) and color occuring. You also keep reduction to a minimum as that will produce color as well. From a perspective of collagen extraction, this approach is very ineffecient. It does produce a very delicate broth with a particular aesthetic that is appropriate for certain applications.

I, personally, am not that into white stocks. I like squeezing as much flavor and as much body as I can out of the materials at hand. I also tend to focus less on delicate cooking and more on rustic, hearty peasant food.

For me, a cloudy stock isn't the end of the world if I can pull more collagen out of my ingredients, so some bone disintegration is okay in my book. I do feel, though, that dissolved bone doesn't taste good (chalky, gamey) so when I simmer my stocks I strive for maximum collagen extraction with minimum bone disintegration.

For poultry stock, I use soft cartilage as my guide. The leg joint, the wing joint and the piece separating the two breasts. Once the soft cartilage is completely melted, that's when the first straining occurs. Sometimes it takes 6 hours to achieve this, sometimes longer, up to 8 or even 9 hours. If I go past that I find the bones will start falling apart and the taste of the stock compromised.

For beef stock, I don't have the cartilage for a visual clue, but I do have grizzle if I'm using meat (which I almost always do), so I try to dissolve all the grizzle. I also find beef bones a little less prone to dissolving than poultry so my beef stocks are simmered for longer periods of time, usually in the 9 hour realm.

I don't cover my bones completely with water as I find they collapse a bit/become submerged with a very brief amount of simmering. This decreased amount of water results in less time reducing down the line. If you're just starting to make stocks, then sure, cover your bones with water.

If your stock ingredients have either a good amount of skin (poultry) or connective tissue (beef) or veal bones, a final reduction to about 1/2 it's original volume should give you a good gel. If you're stuck with collagen deficient ingredients like clean beef bones, than I'd say 1/4 it's original volume will give you a good gel. Also, as you reduce stock, it will have subtle changes in viscosity that you'll be able to detect once you do it a few times.

As I said before, as you make more stocks, this will all be second nature to you. There is nothing better on this planet than homemade stock, so even if you don't get every bit of collagen possible, it will still raise the level of any dish you use it in.

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Old 12-01-2004, 12:07 PM   #12
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Whew. Thanks for the explanation scott123. That's a mouthful!

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Old 12-05-2004, 09:04 AM   #13
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I'm with PSI (not for the first time). I take my big stock pot, put in the bones, a couple carrots, ribs of celerly, onions and tons of garlic, a bay leaf. If the season is such, I grab big branches of sage (if it is poultry) and thyme. Then I just fill the pot with water to cover it all. Have never measured. If the bones aren't covered, it won't work, and if you go more than an inch over, it will be too weak. After I've strained it all, I taste, then boil it down if it is too weak (rare, but has happened).
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Old 12-05-2004, 09:13 AM   #14
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A big cue for color is whether or not you roast the fixens. Even a good vegtable broth (puh-leeze, not stock when you're talking vegetarian. Stock by definition has bones in it) can be taken to a beautiful dark brown color. For some soups you want a lighter colored, more clear broth/stock. For others you want dark brown. ROAST your meat, bones and veggies first if you want that darker color (and to me, a richer flavor).
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Old 12-08-2004, 09:52 AM   #15
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Although new to this site, I do have a suggestion for poultry broth... To help achieve that beautiful golden yellow color I add a whole yellow sweet onion or two while making the broth. It also adds a great flavor.
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:56 PM   #16
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To achieve a darker color you can also (I know this is going ot sound weird but it's what is done) you can take a yellow onion or two depending on the amount you are making, cut in half leaving the skin on, it doesn't matter, and place on griddle cut side down and actually burn them. This imparts a darker color in the broth and it does NOT taste burned.

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Old 12-15-2004, 07:23 PM   #17
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The mirapoix spoken of is an excellent way to help extract the nutrients from the bone. Acidic water will extract the collagen and other nutrients from the bone. These include such items as root veggies like ptatoes or rutabega, celery, celery root, tomatoes, etc.

Chicken bones contain the most nutrients of the bunch. But they must be fractured before boiling to get everything available. It also adds tremendous flavor.

Typically, the veggies and bones are boild together with extra water added as needed. Then the broth is strained through a fine wire sieve and either served, or used as a base for soups, stews, gravies, chowders, or as a nourishing hot drink on a cold day.

If you allow the broth to cool in the refrigerator, it should turn into a solid gell. This is called an aspic. It melts back into liquid when re-heated.

This hot broth is called by the orient "The Soup of Longevity"

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Old 12-18-2004, 06:49 PM   #18
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I've been doing my own stock for a while now, and can attest to it's superior taste. personally I think longer is better, and straining several times is critical at the end. also, for some reason (I'm really not sure, would love to know) Anthony Boudin (?) in Les Halles cookbook warns to NEVER, EVER boil your stock.....a simmer only please.
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Old 12-19-2004, 04:23 AM   #19
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And please don't forget. For vegetarians or those folk who simply don't like ham (not me, I'm a confirmed omnivore). Anything you cook over charcoal will make a wonderful smokey broth or stock. Any time we cook out (I used to say barbecue), I throw a ton of veggies of all sorts on the grill. I use them for a myriad of dishes, but always keep a bag in the freezer for soup fixins. Those grilled veggies (chicken, beef, pork) will make you swear you're eating a great smoked ham bean/pea/lentil soup.

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