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Stock Pot Quality vs. Meat Stock Clarity

In cooking a beef stock and following all the golden rules (cold water to simmer blanching, cold water rinse and simmer) does the material/quality of the stock pot make a significant impact in the clarity of the resulting product?

Online, a 100qt stock pot ranges in prices online from $100 to $500+. What makes one stock pot superior to another? Are there advantages to aluminum over stainless steel?

I was told a rumor that certain stock pots result in a clearer beef stock. Is there any truth to this assertion?

Thanks!

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  1. No difference in my experience., A heavier/thicker stock pot can go to and hold a slow simmer better than a cheaper one, with no hot spots or warping.

    1. For great stock consider a slow cooker.

      For crystal clear stock consider the freezing method. Takes time but nothing could be simpler or more effective. http://fromcooktotrainedchefandbeyond... OTOH, the stock loses all the collagen and, with it, a lot of the richness.

      Oops! I see if you're interested in a 100qt pot that a slow cooker is NOT going to be any sort of solution for you. =o

      2 Replies
      1. re: rainey

        Why would you make stock and then purposely remove the gelatin from it???

        1. re: joonjoon

          To clarify it, as you might for a consume or other clear sauce. If necessary, you can re-add gelatin after the stock is clarified.

          Technically, you would most likely do it with broth, not bones-only stock, but most people use the terms interchangeably anymore.

          There are other methods of clarification I haven't tried yet but that seem quite interesting.
          http://cookingissues.wordpress.com/20...
          Would be a good deal quicker than the freezing method. I don't know how it works for liquids that already contain gelatin. Will have to try it sometime.

      2. Thanks Quine,

        The ultimate goal is production of stock in the 400qt per day range, so a slow cooker would unfortunately not be an option. The freezing method is most certainly interesting! However, waiting for a 100qt block of broth to melt could take a few days.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mahi03

          Yes indeed! Even 4qts takes quite a while. At least overnight and maybe longer. Plus it monopolizes a lot of real estate in the fridge while it's happening.
          Still, it's a neat thing to do for the experience and to marvel at the impeccable clarity but once was enough for me.

          1. re: mahi03

            Sounds like this is a commercial venture. Have you considered all the implications of creating 400 quarts of beef broth daily?

            A full 100 quart pot of broth will weigh over 200 lbs not even counting the weight of the pot, so you'll probably need a spigot arrangement, as kaleokahu mentioned.

            Another question: Do you have a stove powerful enough to bring 100 quarts of broth to a simmer in a reasonably short period of time? As a beer home brewer, I've done 5 gallon batches, starting with about 8 gallons of liquid, and it takes three hours to come to a slow boil on a home stove. I ultimately bought a 175,000 BTU outdoor propane burner, which could bring eight gallons to a boil in about 20 minutes.

            For your purposes, you really need a steam-jacketed kettle, not a stock pot. Even used, it's probably going to cost in the vicinity of $5,000, if a few quick web searches are any indication.

          2. Quine's got it right: the ability to hold simmer and avoid sudden boils will do wonders for eventual clarity even with the bathtub of a stock pot you're looking at.

            500 mL agar gel filtration via the freezer method is about 30 hours for me; 500 mL gelatin filtration via the freezer method is upwards of 48 hours. Ergo syneresis isn't going to help you clear the stock (and you do have that pesky mouth feel issue to contend with too). I do have one suggestion which can improve on clarity for the volume if you use it properly: the Superbag.

            By the way, what exactly would you use to skim a 100 qt stockpot? Giant spoon?

            1 Reply
            1. re: wattacetti

              Chefs tell me the pot makes little difference for stock. You can buy a cheap or expensive pot.
              I bought a cheap one (stainless steel) and am very happy. Are you running a restaurant??

            2. Copper offers a quicker chill in the icebath after, but at 100L, who's gonna lift it?

              I have seen some large, old, premium stockers equipped with a drain spigot which, if connected to a spiral beer wort-chiller (heat exchanger) in a separate icebath, would greatly improve clarity with little mess.

              1. Yes, its indeed a commercial venture. Production could well exceed 400qts but I thought I would put that figure out there as I'm not sure additional scale would make a difference in the discussion.

                I would be using commercial 18" stock pot ranges in the 90,000 BTU range. As I'll be simmering stock, I never intend to hit boiling point, only a simmering point.

                The entire simmering process will take 8+ hours, so I'm willing to be patient bringing that volume of liquid to a boil.

                But as I will be purchasing 10-12 of these 120-150qt stock pots, which range in price from $120-$1k, the difference in financial investment is material. However if a heavier duty, better stock pot exist that can help with the clarity of the stock, I would be willing to spend the extra capital.

                Don't think the ice-bath will be logistically feasible at this scale. Perhaps just add cold/ice water to the broth as the final step. I might have to consider spigots/faucets which will allow the broth to drain into 5 gallon buckets for storage/transport and to lighten the load, or the use of a siphon/pump to transport stock from the pot to the bucket.

                Watacetti - you got it, a giant ladle/skimmer

                All of the responses have been very helpful, please let me know your thoughts.

                9 Replies
                1. re: mahi03

                  I had not thought of the steam kettle option before. But for 400qts (100 gallons), the steam kettle would cost $10k+ vs. $5 k for 4 18" stock pot ranges and 4 120qt vollrath stockpots with a faucet.

                  1. re: mahi03

                    Due to the quantities, just plan on getting the 100 gallon steam jacketed kettle (for day one) -- you will need to pump the liquid (through a filter) into multiple (smaller) stock pots. The size of the stock pot is important, since you have food safety issues -- it should allow the stock to chill through "danger zone" between 140F and 40F as quickly as possible.

                    This is a huge thermal load -- make sure the cooler can do the job. Again, this is a food safety issue when you are looking at these quantities.

                    The chilled stock can be clarified in the stock pots on day two -- clear-meat is added to the stock, the stock heated back to the simmer, and the stock drained off through a cheesecloth and strainer once a raft of scum forms. (Meanwhile, back at the steam kettle you are preparing another day's stock).

                    1. re: mahi03

                      Sorry to nag but:

                      I note that those Vollrath stock pots with faucets are explicitly *not* NSF listed - probably because the faucets can't be broken down for proper cleaning. Does your health inspector require NSF listed equipment?

                      http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_pro...

                      1. re: srgoodman

                        MikeB3542 - I'll look more into the steam jacketed kettle. The equipment is at a much higher price point and I have no previous experience with it. I'd be cooking multiple stocks so the investment would actually be in 3 100 gallon steam kettles.

                        srgoodman - Thats an excellent point. I believe all the equipment will have to be NSF certified, It appears Lincoln makes some in the 80qt size which would not be large enough.

                        Perhaps the easiest solution would be to use a food grade siphon (of some sort), and siphon broth at 140F into food-grade 5 gallon buckets and then immediately frozen in the walk-in freezer.

                        But I will have to check with the health department on their guidelines for this process...

                        1. re: mahi03

                          For what you'll be paying, you should have your stainless kettle(s) altered to add 1" or 1.5" SS tri-clover fittings at he bottoms, then everything (blinds, gaskets, clamps, screens, valves, sample valves, hoses, etc. ) is NSF approved

                          1. re: mahi03

                            Five gallon buckets into a freezer will give your health inspector a conniption fit. Won't get cold enough fast enough; the center will spend a long, long time at 80 degrees, which is perfect temperature for growing bacteria. You need to rapidly chill the stuff, in six hours, by fda standards, only four in a number of places. 100 quarts of 140F liquid has a lot of heat to give off to get below 40F, and will almost certainly require special equipment.

                            Before you spend any money, do yourself a favor, and hire a consultant who's done this, and can show you the numbers. Don't say you can't afford it. It'll cost you a whole lot less than buying equipment that won't do what you want it to will.

                            1. re: dscheidt

                              Yes agreed, after further research I've realized this. I will look into a consultant. Would running cool water through a steam kettle achieve this feat?

                              1. re: mahi03

                                For ten gallons or so, which is the biggest scale I've worked at, the usual technique is hotel pans in an ice bath, or cold paddle, which is a plastic thing filled with water and then frozen. It goes right into the pot, which increases the surface area that's exposed to cold, which decreases the time it takes the food to get cold. Rule of thumb for pans in ice baths is a quart of hot stuff takes three or four pounds of ice.

                                For your sort of scale, I suspect you're looking at a blast chiller. Think convection oven, but blowing cold air instead of hot air, and capable of rejecting a whole heck of a lot more heat than a typical freezer.

                                1. re: dscheidt

                                  Thanks! I spoke to a steam kettle rep and they mentioned a blast chiller as well. However, most blast chillers cool items on 12x20 pans. From what I've seen online thus far, blast chillers also dont' seem to accommodate this kind of scale.

                                  Several of the steam kettle manufacturers have cook/chill systems, where the food product is squeezed into bags and then cooled in a tumble chiller. The bagging process seems superfluous given that the bags would just be re-opened back into a stock pot.

                    2. I think the steam jacketed kettle is the route to go, if I grow large enough. Its hard to justify the additional expense of a couple 100 gallon kettles right now until the overall concept is proven profitable, and I may be left extra care with a dozen 150 qt stock pots to produce the stock, at least to start.

                      Any suggestions on a siphon? I would imagine a 1" food grade hose would be all I need.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: mahi03

                        I think what you need is a pump, not a siphon. Food grade pumps aren't that expensive - $200 or less.

                        A thought:

                        What you're doing is not entirely unlike brewing beer. You are heating a liquid for a period of time with a number of ingredients. After heating, the mixture needs to be filtered and cooled. Your scale isn't much below the smaller microbreweries, which work on seven barrel (217 gallon) systems.

                        Are there any microbreweries in your area? If so, why not try calling some of them, tell them what you're trying to do (so they know you're not a competitor), and ask for some assistance? Most microbreweries I've been to (a lot! ;-) ) are run by very friendly people who love to show off their stuff. I think if you hook up with the right place, you can get a lot of good ideas on how to set up, and maybe even some pointers on where to pick up some used equipment cheap.

                        Don't be surprised if you leave with a few good beers in your belly, too!

                        1. re: srgoodman

                          This is actually a fine suggestion, but also try this: Look into the "Heavy Recreational" multi-station brewing assemblies called "brew sculptures". They come in all sizes, usually include big burners, large, spigoted tuns and wort chillers, and the stations are positioned so that they drain by gravity to the next station. Check them out at GW Kent or Morebeer.com

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Thank you very much, all great suggestions. I will give some microbreweries a call.

                            The steam jacketed kettle option seems more and more like it is worth the investment, at least at this current scale.

                            Will the use of these kettles allow for any easy options for cooling of the liquids to adhere to health requirements?

                            1. re: mahi03

                              Also, I'd like to use my nuclear reactor to power XM-3h and XM-3z fusa cartridges for a small business. (Sorry, but I'm not allowed to give more details.) Will I need to employ special gloves to handle the plutonium-239, or can I just grab lightly and toss? I've been reading A LOT on the Web but still don't feel comfortable with fissile material(s), because (heh-heh) I slept through that entire course.

                              1. re: Harry Niletti

                                To my knowledge, I am unaware of precedent examples utilizing a larger scale production and distribution of frozen meat stock (I am more than happy to share more details to the extent that details are needed).

                                Given the lack of precedence, I seem to be somewhat limited to commercial equipment reps, and resources such as chowhound, which have kindly suggested micro-breweries and restaurant consultants as potential next steps. There are a myriad of 'similar' applications (home brewing) which may offer solutions which I am exploring. At this point in time, the 'best' solution seems to be the use of steam kettles to cook the stock. And I am still in need of a solution to chill the stock.

                                1. re: mahi03

                                  I'm glad you got the friendly joke. ;-)

                                  Almost everything in this thread is well known to experienced home cooks. I recommend quick visits with the pros. For example: (1) one of the large-scale commercial producers -- to see if you can adapt their methods to your much smaller-scale needs; (2) a chain that makes its own soups (Whole Foods or Souper Salad, e.g.); or (3) a top-quality restaurant-supply house. Out here in Southern California, Surfas ( www.thesurfasgroup.com ) would be a good choice. I'd be very surprised if someone there couldn't give you excellent advice based on their experience with restaurants or other small businesses making similar quantities of stock. Good luck!

                                  1. re: Harry Niletti

                                    Thanks! appreciate the feedback.

                                    On #1, I have been seraching for comparables in the market to seek help from, although I have had difficulty identifying such comps. The brewery as suggested by others was a great lead which I will follow up on.

                                    The Cook-chill method seems to be a popular method for most of the steam kettle manufacturers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yLZ9E...). This would seem like a good choice for large varities of kettle products, but less if I would be recombining all the packets at the endpoint. There is however, a soup restaurant in my area (San Francisco) that I will try to seek some help from.

                                    I've reached out to several restaurant supply houses both locally and online who have not yielded any viable solutions, but will continue to dig.

                                    Appreciate the help!