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Simmering stock and losing most of it... help?

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I'm making a veal stock... started with about 14 or 16 quarts of water.... now down to maybe 7 quarts and according to the recipe, 2 more hours to go. I'm afraid my efforts will be for nothing if I lose all the liquid... what gives? It's barely simmering uncovered and has been for about 6 hours.

Am I supposed to add clean water to bring the levels back up or is that a waste of the reduction process? Otherwise, why am I losing all my liquid?

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  1. Don't add anything. A good stock should be at least a 50% reduction of the initial mixture. Just taste it and, when you're satisfied with the flavor, remove from heat and cool. You could also reduce the heat and cover it at this point, allowing the steam to condense on the inside of the lid and drop back down into the stock. That will conserve some of the liquid. Just make sure you maintain that low simmer. Your stock doesn't have to be simmering too vigorously, just enough to keep the mixture bubbling slightly.

    1. "barely simmering".... when I make stock I adjust the heat so that it just bubbles every second or two.

      1. Don't worry. You're just losing water and gaining a concentrated stock. You're getting what you want.

        1. I loved this hint from Thomas Keller in Ad Hoc--take a piece of parchment paper, cutting to size of the pan. Cut a hole out of the center. Place on the simmering liquid. You'll get evaporation but it'll slow it down so you can simmer the goodness out of the bones.

          1. As said above, any drop in volume is pure water. Keep the water level above the bones or you're wasting some of the flavors and collagen. Once you strain the liquid you can always reduce it back down. There's no reason why you can't just keep the stock covered during the entire simmering process so you don't have to bother checking the water level frequently - some say it's harder to maintain a low simmer covered but I don't care about that - I make stock in a pressure cooker anyway.