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Aug 15, 2009 09:10 AM

Clarifying Stock - Is it Necessary?

Hi all:

There's been a couple posts in the archives on this topic, but it was more ancillary to the discussion rather than the actual topic.

So last week I made homemade stock for the first time (the beef stock from Julia Child's "The Way to Cook" It turned out great. . .I managed to get almost 3.5 quarts of deep brown stock. After I made it, I put it in the refrigerator overnight and desgreased it, and then I clarified it using egg whites.

I am wondering how "necessary" the step of clarifying is. I will say that the stock now looks remarkably clear and beautiful. . . but is this a big deal in the long run? What's wrong with cloudy stock. I could see the need to clarify if you're making consumme. . .but honestly, clarifying just seemed like a pain to me and I don't know that I would want to do it again.

What do you guys all think?

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  1. I always thought it was purely cosmetic. I clarify my chicken stock if making a consomme but have never bothered clarifying fish or shellfish stock. It just looks nicer to show off fine noodles, tiny mushrooms or delicate greens. Can't comment on the beef stock as I've been "off the hoof" for 25 years.


    1. How "necessary" depends on the recipe...the end results.

      The way we cook it's never necessary!

      Have Fun!

      1. No it's not necessary, unless you are going to use it as consomme or aspic.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          and that still is strictly for visual effect.

        2. How did you clarify cold stock using egg whites? Usually, the egg white raft is placed on the simmering stock and the heat driven currents in the pot allow the suspended solids and residues to circulate around (and up) enough to eventually stick to the raft.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Julia's method is to put the egg whites in cold stock, then heat it gradually. The egg sinks to the bottom, but as it cooks it rises to the top, bringing all the solids with it. Works well.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Oh. She uses unbeaten egg whites!? An egg white raft obviously uses beaten egg whites spread onto the stock surface. I wouldn't contaminate a stock with egg whites themselves.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I think her method is to beat the whites with about twice as much *cold* stock (assuming you've chilled the stock already to skim the fat off it), and then tempering that with an equal amount of reheated stock before adding this all into the rest of the reheated stock, whisking slowly to maintain circulation at a simmer.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  I misremembered the recipe. Here's a paraphrase of the technique in its entirety.

                  Whisk a cup of cold, defatted stock with four egg whites. Bring another four cups of stock to a simmer. Temper the stock / egg mixture with a cup of the hot stock, added in dribbles. Whisk the egg/stock mixture into the hot stock. Whisk slowly but constantly until the stock begins to simmer again, then stop whisking, simmer very gently for 15 minutes, and strain through cheesecloth.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    yes that's correct. I don't have a degreasing pitcher either, so I had to refrigerate the stock so that the fat could rise the top so I could degrease it.

            2. I did the Julia Child clarification process and my question is does the clarification process remove the micronutrients from the liquid.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sknappertz

                the "nutrition" has already been cooked out of the bits you remove. everything should have given up the ghost by the time your stock is finished cooking.