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Feb 7, 2014 05:59 PM

Reducing Veal Stock... Hard boil or?

Hey everyone, making my favourite thing over here for the last... few... days... Made stock using veal breast and neck bones, then discarded veggies and strained, and did it again using fresh water (remouillage) and strained again. Now I've combined the two and want to reduce it into *magic*.

They always say never let stock boil, but I'm assuming that's just while the meat and veggies are in the pot. Can I go full hard boil to reduce by half?

If I reduce by more than half....

HOW.... LOW.... CAN HE GO?!

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  1. Medium temp and let it simmer not a hard boil

    1. Great question. All the classic recipes talk about keeping it at a low simmer forever, but I can't see any chemistry that would argue against a rollicking boil. The temp is the same, the only difference is the agitation, which aids evaporation. Maybe a boil drives off volatile flavor compounds, but I doubt it. Let it rip & report back.

      9 Replies
      1. re: rjbh20

        boiling tends to make the stock very cloudy as it creates clods of any remaining protein strands.


        1. re: sunshine842

          Got any personal and objective experience about that? How do the protein strand know if they're boiling or not?

          1. re: rjbh20

            because they start fanning themselves and perspiring.

            The agitation plus the heat is what creates the cloudiness.

            I can offer up only a few hundred gallons of homemade stock over a couple of decades as my experience.

            The stock is within a few degrees of the same temperature, whether it's boiling or simmering -- if there are bubbles, it's at 212/100 more or less, right?

            So the larger bubbles created by the boiling aren't really going to evaporate it significantly faster -- so unless it's going into something in which cloudiness is a non-issue, simmering will help it stay clear.

            If it's cloudy, you can always clear it up with egg whites...but that's an additional step.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Actually, rapid boiling significantly increases the surface area and does dramatically increase evaporation. And if the solids have been strained foe the stock, there's nothing left for the agitation to emulsify.

              1. re: rjbh20

                a) unless it's been subjected to reverse osmosis (which would mean it's back to water) there are still proteins in there to emulsify. Fewer, but they're still there.

                Boiling doesn't change the surface area - you can only do that by changing the size of the pan. All boiling means is that the bubbles at the bottom of the pan are larger (which means more agitation as they pass through the stock, which brings us right back to where we started....)

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Do this -- put equal amounts of water in two pots. Barely simmer one & boil the other. Notice the steam emanating from the boiling one. Also notice which one goes dry first.

                  And proteins don't emulsify -- fats do.

                  1. re: rjbh20

                    but proteins coagulate.

                    Boil your stock all you want -- it affects me not at all.

                    But if you want a *clear* stock, you'll do well to simmer rather than furiously boil.

          2. re: sunshine842

            unless you don't care that the stock gets cloudy, which i generally don't. could count on one hand how many times i have served consomme and at least one of those instances was in culinary school. :)

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              totally agree -- I've clarified a few times, because my stock was either bizarrely cloudy, or I actually wanted a clear broth, but I usually add some sort of starch (noodles, rice, potatoes, etc) - so a clear stock is lost, anyway.

              But if you *want* a clear broth, you can save yourself some work by simmering rather than boiling.

        2. Slow medium simmer, let time do it's magic.

          1. Sounds like you're doing everything the classic way, so if you're going for a true demi-glace or an actual glace de viande, then no, don't boil. A snooty French chef would have a fit and throw things at you if he saw so much as a bubble appear while you reduce that pot of gold.

            But as others have noted, if you don't care whether it is clear or not, then boil away after it is thoroughly de-fatted. You will never actually be able to remove every molecule of fat so it will get cloudy, but if you are using for cooking or anything but a clear soup, it doesn't matter much.

            Also note that any of the post-reduction clarification methods, such as a raft, also remove a lot of flavor. Those cloudy solids provide a lot of punch.

            1. For those of an objective, experimental bent (as opposed to myth & legend), make two batches of stock: one the traditional simmering way and the other in a pressure cooker, Use identical everything and see what the result is. Not to give away the ending, but they will be equally cloudy, There's no boiling in the pressure cooker so how come it's not perfectly clear? Those delicate protein strands aren't being rudely agitated and coagulated by boiling, yet the stock is still cloudy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rjbh20

                no boiling in the pressure cooker? Srsly?

                The entire reason you use a pressure cooker is because it comes to a boil at a far lower temperature than at ambient pressure.

                Next time you use your pc, rest your hand lightly on the handle -- you can feel it boiling, even if you turn it way down.


                while it doesn't lower the boiling temperature, it doesn't raise it, either -- it allows the food to attain a higher temperature. But it still boils.

                1. re: rjbh20

                  >>>myth & legend... = ... There's no boiling in the pressure cooker <<<

                  Of course it boils. Just at a higher temp. All you have to do is listen and you know it's boiling. Well, that and the violent periodic outbursts of steam from the weight.

                  Water boils at a lower temp at lower pressures (hence different recipes for high altitudes) and higher temps at higher pressures. Pressure cookers do increase the boiling point (and there's nothing in the link that says they don't -- it doesn't actually address that issue at all).

                  The real test is to reduce two pots of stock side by side, one at a boil and one at a simmer, to see if there is a difference. Spoiler: there is. Not only is the simmered one clearer, but you can actually clear a cloudy stock by simmering very slowly for, oh, about three days.

                  If you care about that stuff. Which I generally don't. But I thought it would be fun to experiment a few years ago, so I did, and I proved it to my satisfaction.

                  But really, in the end, it isn't that big a deal. I rarely have the need for very clear soup, but I'm always afraid I might, so I simmer.