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  #1   ^
Old Wed, Dec-17-08, 21:40
ImOnMyWay's Avatar
ImOnMyWay ImOnMyWay is offline
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Question making stock

Most recipes I've seen for making stock have you bring the ingredients to a boil and then skim off the foam, lower to a simmer and cook for a period of time.

This may sound like a stupid question, but: Why bother to skim off the foam?

Thanks.
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  #2   ^
Old Wed, Dec-17-08, 22:31
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girlbug2 girlbug2 is offline
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I always assumed it was just to keep it from reentering the stock later.

But of course one could wait until after it's done cooking to take it off.
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  #3   ^
Old Wed, Dec-17-08, 22:50
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Kisal Kisal is offline
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According to epicurious.com: "It is important to have a clean stock before you add the other ingredients, because the foam is impure and should not be cooked into the stock; if the stock is not clean before you add the herbs and spices, you will wind up skimming them off, altering the flavor of the recipe."

Also, if you don't skim off the broth, it can become mixed throughout the stock as it simmers, making the stock cloudy and unattractive.
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  #4   ^
Old Thu, Dec-18-08, 22:11
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ImOnMyWay ImOnMyWay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kisal
According to epicurious.com: "It is important to have a clean stock before you add the other ingredients, because the foam is impure and should not be cooked into the stock; if the stock is not clean before you add the herbs and spices, you will wind up skimming them off, altering the flavor of the recipe."

Also, if you don't skim off the broth, it can become mixed throughout the stock as it simmers, making the stock cloudy and unattractive.


Thanks, Kisal. I don't know what they mean by "impure". What IS the foam? Is it dangerous?

But it does make sense if foam prevents other ingredients from mixing well with the liquid. I also understand the visual aspect - if you're making consomme, or aspic, for example. You just can't beat a good aspic.

For other dishes that require stock, it doesn't seem important. I don't think I've ever made a clear stock. Or clarified a stock. How lazy is that?
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  #5   ^
Old Thu, Dec-18-08, 22:33
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Kisal Kisal is offline
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No, not "impure" in the sense that it's inedible. IIRC, it is essentially protein and a bit of blood, primarily from the bone marrow and any uncooked meat that might be on the bones. I have made broth without skimming off the foam. I never let it boil, though, so nothing much in the way of foam develops. OTOH, I have also had my broth turn out very cloudy a few times. For most purposes, such as cream soups, that doesn't matter, but if you're using it to make a clear soup, such as Egg Drop soup, it is much prettier and more appetizing if the broth is not cloudy.

Also, I always add some skins from yellow onions (yes, the papery stuff you peel off! ) when I make chicken broth. It gives the broth a lovely yellow color. My grandma taught me that trick.
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  #6   ^
Old Thu, Dec-18-08, 22:42
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ImOnMyWay ImOnMyWay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kisal
Also, I always add some skins from yellow onions (yes, the papery stuff you peel off! ) when I make chicken broth. It gives the broth a lovely yellow color. My grandma taught me that trick.


Great tip! I will try that. Do you ever use a mirepoix when making the stock?
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  #7   ^
Old Sat, Dec-20-08, 17:15
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I always toss some celery and onion in ... I save celery and onion trimmings (not the roots, of course ) specifically to add to broth. I just put it all in a freezer bag, along with the chicken bones and wing tips. I store the bag in my freezer, and when I'm ready to make broth, I just dump the contents of the bag into my soup pot and add water to cover. I usually add a quartered onion, too, with the skin. I don't add carrots anymore, although I used to. I actually don't notice any difference in the flavor of the broth when I make it without carrots.

Sometimes, if I feel like going to the trouble, I make a bouquet garni for the herbs and spices.
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Old Sat, Dec-20-08, 17:56
cindy_cfid cindy_cfid is offline
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I'm a big believer in the health benefits of gelatin/stock made from bones. Save & add egg shells to boost the calcium content of your stock. Adding vinegar (which doesn't effect the taste) helps leach minerals into the stock.

I had never skimmed either, but I read recently about the need to do this (effecting taste I think) I could care less about cloudiness.
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  #9   ^
Old Sat, Dec-20-08, 22:04
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awriter awriter is offline
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Default How to make great stock - and then broth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kisal
No, not "impure" in the sense that it's inedible.

Actually, it is. In former, non-PC days, the stuff that floats was called what it is: scum. Not foam. Scum. Because that's what it is. An inedible mix of protein and blood that needs to be skimmed off in the first 10 minutes of the simmer/boil.

Do you need to bring your stock to a boil? Yes, you do. If you don't, the scum will simply cling to the meat and veg and later be impossible to remove. OTOH, once you've brought the stock (not broth - which should never be boiled and is NOT interchangeable with stock) to a slow boil/simmer, the scum will float up and be easy to skim.

Stock is what you make from meat, bones and veg. Broth is what you make from stock by reducing it slowly over time. Demi-glaze is made from broth by further reduction, until you have literally spoonfuls of thick, flavor-laden syrup with enormous concentration of flavor. It's very difficult to make a fabulous French 'Mother Sauce' without demi-glaze.

Here's how to make great chicken stock:

Quote:
A stock is only as good as the chicken in it. If you can afford to visit an organic chicken farm, go for it. You'll definitely be able to 'taste' the cost when done. Even better is to visit and buy a 'fowl' or 'stewing hen'. Too old to roast, but very flavorful for stock. You can now also buy fowls in the large supermarket chains --- but you can't buy the 'chicken feet' (not legs) there --- and they are essential for GREAT stock. An enormous amount of collegen is supplied by those feet, and you only need a few to toss in the pot. And collegen means flavor and gelatin -- both of which add richness to the stock.

Toss a 4-5 pound fowl, cut into about 8 pieces but with liver removed, into a huge stock pot. Add a few chicken feet. If you have the bones of a roasted chicken to add - great. Toss 'em in. Add an onion, peel still on, sliced in half vertically (from stem to stem). Keep the roots on so the onion doesn't disintegrate. Add 2 large, peeled carrots, cut in 3-4 pieces. Add several stalks of celery, cut into large pieces. Add 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and whacked with the bottom of a heavy pan or knife - still basically in one piece with roots on. Cover with filtered water so that the chicken is completely covered by at least 5 inches of water. No salt or pepper is added at this time.

Cover pot and bring to boil over high heat. As SOON as stock comes to boil, remove top, reduce heat to low so that the stock still simmers and lightly bubbles -- and for the next 10 or so minutes, skim off and discard the scum that rises to the top. This will be the last time you ever boil the liquid.

Once scum is gone, add a bouquet garni tied in cheesecloth. Bouquet can have a bay leaf, some fresh dill, a few whole peppercorns, etc. -- whatever you'd like. Do not add these things directly to the pot - you must use cheesecloth or you'll have bits and pieces all over the place. Still no salt.

Let the stock lightly simmer and reduce for several hours, up to six. Add a bit more water if needed.

When the stock is reduced to your liking, pour entire contents into a large sieve over a large bowl. You will discard all the solids -- though I do press them well with a large spoon to get all the stock.

CRUCIAL: Immediately place the bowl of stock into an even larger bowl filled with ice-water to quickly chill it. A large amount of hot stock that cools on the counter or even in the fridge is asking for bacteria to come and swim in it. If you don't have a larger bowl or lots of ice, pour the stock into small containers, place containers on a cookie sheet, and freeze uncovered overnight (no condensation that way). Cover the next day. Defrost a container or two overnight in the fridge the day before planning to make broth or soup or demi-glaze.

For the broth: Add defrosted stock to a sauce pan. Add diced carrots and celery. Bring to simmer and reduce until flavor is concentrated. Add cooked meat if you wish the last 10 minutes before serving, as well as salt, and any other spice you'd like. Or use in a sauce, etc.

For demi-glaze: reduce stock by 75%. Discard carrots and celery, and reduce until just a quarter cup is left. Add salt to taste, but remember that demi-glaze is just another ingredient added to a sauce that may already have salt, so go easy.

Demi-glaze can stay in the fridge for months; stock and broth just a few days.

Enjoy!

Lisa
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  #10   ^
Old Sun, Dec-21-08, 09:50
Nancy LC's Avatar
Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImOnMyWay
Thanks, Kisal. I don't know what they mean by "impure". What IS the foam? Is it dangerous?

I've often asked myself this very question. I think it's just an aesthetic issue really. I don't care if my stock is cloudy. In fact, I have a feeling those "impurities" might be calcium and marrow from the bones, which is what I want to eat.

Quote:
Actually, it is. In former, non-PC days, the stuff that floats was called what it is: scum. Not foam. Scum. Because that's what it is. An inedible mix of protein and blood that needs to be skimmed off in the first 10 minutes of the simmer/boil.

Why is it inedible when it is boiled but perfectly fine when eaten after baking, broiling etc? Something isn't adding up for me.

I've always found blood to be delicious. My Mom used to cook something, can't quite remember what, maybe liver, but it left a lot of blood behind in the pan that we both really relished.

Last edited by Nancy LC : Sun, Dec-21-08 at 09:57.
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  #11   ^
Old Sun, Dec-21-08, 11:15
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awriter awriter is offline
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Default Protein stands and methods of heat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy LC
Why is it inedible when it is boiled but perfectly fine when eaten after baking, broiling etc?

For the same reason a lovely piece of fish or steak is delish when broiled - but disgusting when boiled. It has to do with what happens to protein strands when different forms of heat are applied to them.

That's why cheaper cuts of meat are tough as hell and virtually inedible when broiled/dry roasted, but delicious when braised for a long time in a liquid. Imagine boiling a crown roast or prime rib. Could you eat it? Well, it won't kill you if you gag it down. But why would anyone want to? Ditto for eating a 2 hour boiled egg. Or a boiled, rather than roasted bone/marrow.

How protein is cooked is crucial. That's why, btw, the chicken you use to make the stock is also 'inedible' and is usually tossed with the spent veggies. Since the chicken has been boiled rather than braised it's tough and tasteless. Could you eat it? Sure, but again - why would you want to?

This is why stock scum is inedible, and why it's skimmed. It has nothing to do with 'cloudy' stock, since skimming the scum off does NOT make a stock clear. Only clarifying the stock after it's done and the spent chicken, veggies and spices are removed makes a stock clear. There are several stages and methods for this, depending on the final product you desire. If it's demi-glaze, no need to do anything. Ditto for a stock to be made into a rustic soup at home, for instance, or used to make a sauce.

But if you want the stock for consomme or aspic you'll need to do several stages of clarification -- such as pouring the stock at least twice through many layers of cheesecloth, after which you reheat the stock, bring to a simmer, and add 2 egg whites.

As the whites cook and coagulate, they'll whisk up whatever impurities remain and float with them to the top of the pot, where they can be skimmed off. Could you eat the resulting protein mass instead? Yes . . . but I can't imagine wanting to do so.

Lisa
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  #12   ^
Old Sun, Dec-21-08, 12:43
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Kisal Kisal is offline
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I don't believe that protein and blood are "impure" in the sense that they are bad for a person, or will cause illness, regardless of the method of cooking. For that matter, they are eaten raw in some societies.

I agree that it's simply a matter of aesthetics. The recipe I use for pate requires that the liver be boiled.

Last edited by Kisal : Sun, Dec-21-08 at 17:14.
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  #13   ^
Old Sun, Dec-21-08, 13:13
Nancy LC's Avatar
Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
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Ok, I'm making stock soon. I'll give the scum a taste when I make it and report back. If you don't hear from me, call 911.
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  #14   ^
Old Sun, Dec-21-08, 13:37
Nancy LC's Avatar
Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
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Ok, reading my Harold McGee's, food scientist, book he says the scum are cell proteins that look like grey particles if you leave them in. Nothing about them tasting off.

Which makes sense. Cooking method has more to do with texture. For instance, if you boil fish it still tastes like fish but it'll actually dry out because getting it too hot causes those proteins to squeeze out water. Alton Brown show on poaching fish. Also, some of the flavor escapes into the water, thus kind of the whole idea behind stock...

McGee has a lot written on stock and says to be sure to cook it low and slow. Whole section on the importance of a cold start and uncovered, slow heating. The reason, the ugly proteins rise to the top and skim off easily. If you boil they remain suspended and get cloudy in the stock. IMHO, the scum might be nutrition I'd rather not discard.

I think the last time I made stock, I didn't bother with it. I didn't notice any off flavors, just a cloudy stock.

Last edited by Nancy LC : Sun, Dec-21-08 at 13:42.
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  #15   ^
Old Sun, Dec-21-08, 14:40
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Kisal Kisal is offline
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Another thing to consider is that the "skin" that forms on the surface of puddings is also protein, just like the scum on stock. The only reason it doesn't look "scummy" is because it's colored and thickened by the other ingredients.
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