Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 1, 2009 07:34 PM

Reducing stock (and I'm not talking economics)

I'm making stock from the turkey carcass from Christmas. Once I'm done with the carcass, can I reduce the stock by keeping it on the burner for a couple of hours so as to take up less room in the freezer?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The length of time you can continue simmering your stock depends on how much stock you have, how much heat you apply, and what the ratio of liquids to solids there is in your combined ingredients. Simmering stock to reduce it and concentrate its flavors is a common practice but you'll have to be the judge of how long you can actually continue the process under your specific circumstances.

    1. Reducing stock without the bones (and other goodies) will only reduce the volume of stock you have, it will not make the stock more concentrated.

      9 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Is there any effective way to concentrate the stock?

        1. re: ipsedixit


          Of course that will concentrate the stock.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            um - yes it will. water is boiling away. other chemicals remain. the ration of otehr stuff to water will increase.

            if that isn't concentrating, i do not know what is.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I did that for Christmas with the beef stock and once I strained it, I further reduced it and it was definitely more concentrated. Anytime you simmer something, doesn't the water evaporate and you are left with more good stuff? I am an at home cook only, but Isn't that the principal behind demi glaces and such?

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Please explain. If you are reducing the amount of water in the stock by reducing how are flavors not concentrated? Do flavors evaporate as well?

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Maybe it does, but everytime I've done it this way the stock's flavor has been off.

                  If I want to reduce stock, I do it with the bones. Once the bones are removed, I no longer try to reduce.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    the flavor being "off" certainly tells you that something is changing when it's boiling away on your stovetop. that something is concentration

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      You could be more sensitive to the taste because when you boil longer, you do lose aromatics (which is why you smell it through the house) in addition to water. It's the same reason that people steam over seasoned aromatic water--because the aromatics also evaporate and can flavor whatever is being steamed.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    I always enjoy your comments. You know what you are talking about. But this time, I have to disagree. Boiling or simmering liquid does concentrate the remaining flavors.

                  3. Absolutely. It's common practice. Recipes often direct that once strained and defatted (which I usually do in the fridge overnight), the stock should be brought to a vigorous boil and reduced by half. It's a good rule of thumb, but I usually just keep tasting until it reaches a point where I think I ought to be able to dilute it yet still have it remain flavorful.

                    At the stage that you're reducing the stock, there's no reason not to bring it to a good boil so a couple of hours is far too long. Obviously, it depends on the volume, but you might well be able to reduce it to your satisfaction in as little as 15 or 20 minutes.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JoanN

                      Boiling stock makes it cloudy and can ruin the look of it for soups, etc. I've always been told to simmer it gently.

                      1. re: tzakiel

                        That's true for initial cooking of the stock, but not so much after it's been strained and defatted. Maybe I'm just not as fussy as some since I'm usually using the reduced stock for sauces. And I am very good about skimming and then straining through cheesecloth without pressing down on the solids. But in my experience, if the stock is clear of all impurities after being defatted, it will remain clear even after a vigorous boil.

                        That said, if I'm making something like a consomme where I want perfect clarity, I'll go all the way and clarify it with egg whites and additional lean protein.

                    2. I reduce mine by a factor of about four or so, then freeze it in small batches (ice cube trays or individual zipper-lock baggies).

                      Careful with vegetable stocks, though. I've had those turn bitter when over-reduced. I've never been able to identify any single culprit there, because I've had it happen with several different combinations.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: dmd_kc

                        Seafood stocks get bitter too. They lose their delicate flavor after about 20 minutes anyway so don't lend themselves to reducing. Maybe for heartier fish stocks, an hour. But after that, they get an off flavor. Best to freeze the fish frames and make them fresh.
                        Oddly, I've had mushroom stocks get an off-taste too. Not as clear a flavor as I expected.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          I didn't know that about fish stock, but it makes sense somehow.

                          I will never understand the unpredictability of vegetable stock. I've seen others blame celery, which I just can't believe is the culprit. I do believe it's necessary to make sure you don't make stock with anything you wouldn't eat -- especially no sprouted aromatics, which ARE often bitter on their own. The very worst one I've ever made came from roasted vegetables that tasted excellent on their own, but became completely inedible after 25 minutes in the water. That one may have been from too much carbon, but I dunno.

                          At least if your vegetable stock goes bad, you aren't usually out much money.

                      2. You could go as far as to make "bouillon cubes". Reduce strained broth to maybe a 6th or 7th of it's original volume. Use very low heat when the liquid starts to get syrupy.