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Clarifying Homemade Chicken Stock With Egg Whites - Fail

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I made, probably one of my more successful batches of chicken stock yesterday. This time around I actually saved up a bunch of fresh chicken bones and skin, much more than I would normally use, and I also added an "acid" per some suggestions, in the form of some fresh chopped tomato. I didn't use any whole pieces of chicken either, just the bones and skin.

The result was a very dense broth (I made it in my pressure cooker) with a great mouth feel. I let it cool overnight so I could skim the excess fat off. But I also figured, if I went this far, why not really perfect it and attempt to clarify it into a "consomme".

I don't have any cheese cloth on hand, so I've only been straining the broth through a fine metal strainer. The broth itself actually looked pretty clear to begin with, but of course I wanted to see how far I could take it.

The method I had always heard of was to use egg whites, cooked in the broth to catch any debris, then strain it again to get a crystal clear broth. Some methods suggested adding even more ground meat and vegetables for this process, but I was worried these extra ingredients would muck up the broth even more, so I left them out.

I scrambled up some egg whites until a bit frothy, brought the broth to a simmer and added them. They eventually formed the "cloud" as described and I let it all cook a while longer. Then I strained it through the metal strainer. Total fail.

The resulting broth was even cloudier, had an "egg white" taste to it, and a lot of the egg white debris made it through the strainer as well.

Have any of you ever done this egg white method successfully? I'm wishing I would have just left the perfectly good stock alone after de-fatting it, lol.

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  1. you need to bring the broth to a high simmer or even a low boil before adding the raft -- then you turn the heat off, let cool, and restrain.

    That's the only difference I see -- I don't think your broth was quite hot enough.

    I don't clarify a lot, because I'm usually adding other stuff to the stock to make the clarity a non-issue, but the few times I've done it, the rapid-simmer worked fine.

    Not sure if you could do it again...or maybe strain through paper towels or an old dish towel (clean)?

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      Coffee filters are also a good substitute for cheese cloth.

      1. re: melpy

        takes longer, but yes

    2. Never tried it myself but the pictured method I saw in a cookbook years ago used freshly crushed raw eggshells saying you only need the little bit of white left clinging to the shell. Stir that mess in and let it go until it literally forms a hard crust on top. Carefully remove crust and strain. Made sense to me anyway.

      1. Here goes.
        The fact you used a pressure cooker meant you heated the protein strands over 212 F. When this happens the protein strands not only turn into basically rubber bands but they also 'blow apart'. This means the liquid has millions of chards of protein in it. These bits of protein are too small to use any 'raft' to remove them to the point were you'd end up with a consomme.
        If you want to make a very clear stock the only way is to avoid at all costs bringing the liquid above 212 F.
        I make sure my stocks go no higher than 200 F. 'Low and slow'. For chicken stock I always add a couple of fresh raw pork bones and a hand full of leaks. Never any salt or herbs at this point. Anyway. Then skim skim skim at first to remove anything that floats to the top. This doesn't take too long when the stock gets up to temp.
        A little tip: Move your stock pot slightly off the burner. This will cause one side of the stock pot to be a higher temp than the other side. This causes a very gentle vertical convection which gently moves particles over to one side where they are easier to skim off.
        After the stock has simmered uncovered for a couple of hours I allow it to cool completely overnight. Any fat can then be very gently removed from the surface. I carefully ladle off the now clear stock. I do not pour it off as this will cause whatever has settled to the bottom to be disturbed thereby wasting any effort I put into achieving a clear stock.
        This clear stock I freeze in Zip locks bags for future use. Should I want to make a consomme, which I don't foresee happening, the stock is now ready to be 'rafted'. I've made consomme a few times years ago just to do it.
        Bottom line: don't use a pressure cooker if you want a clear stock.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Puffin3

          What does "rafted" mean?

          1. re: bevwinchester

            clarified with egg white and/or shell -- the egg white forms what is called a raft

        2. Next time use ground chicken and egg whites. Its the tomato and mirepoix that can be left out, IMO.

          Mix the ground chicken and slightly whipped egg whites together and add to cold chicken stock in a stockpot.

          Turn on the heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. You'll see the raft come to the top and come together.

          Once the raft has formed, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it go for an hour. You should be able to see how clear the stock has become during the process.

          Once clarified, carefully remove the raft and strain the consommé through cheesecloth.

          Puffin has a good point, though. If you make stock by hard boiling it, you emulsify the fat, making it very hard, if not impossible, to remove.

          9 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            Stock doesn't boil in a pressure cooker. That's the whole point of pressure.

            1. re: rjbh20

              Who said it "boiled"? I used the word "heat".
              The "heat in a pressure cooker can reach 250 F.
              You can never remove fat molecules that have emulsified in water.

              1. re: Puffin3

                "Puffin has a good point, though. If you make stock by hard boiling it, you emulsify the fat, making it very hard, if not impossible, to remove."

              2. re: rjbh20

                How do you think the pressure is created?

                By steam generated by boiling liquid.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Wrong. The whole point of pressure is to raise the boiling point of water and thereby cook at a higher temp than 100C, the max allowed by boiling water. You can probably boil water in a pressure cooker, but only if you weld up the popoff valve, which is there for that exact purpose.

                  Pressure is created by adding energy, ie heat, to the gas molecules, including water vapor, which increases their activity. In an unconfined environment, the gas expands; in a closed vessel the pressure rises. PV = NrT.

                  You are, of course, aware that water boils at a lower temp at altitude due to the lower ambient air pressure, right?

                  1. re: rjbh20

                    And it boils at a higher temp in a pressure cooker.

                    The idea that it doesn't boil is a myth.

                    1. re: acgold7

                      Sigh. Let's take it from the top, using real numbers, ok?

                      For every pound/square inch (PSI) above normal atmospheric pressure, the boiling point of pure water goes up by about 3 degrees. No mythology here, just chemistry.

                      The high pressure setting on a Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker, which is a highly regarded brand, is at 11.6 PSI. The maximum before the blowout gasket blows is 17.4:PSI. At 11.6 PSI, the associated water temperature is 243 degrees F. Since at a pressure of 12 PSI, water boils at 248 degrees F, it doesn't boil in the pressure cooker. The device is engineered to keep the water just below its boiling point at a given pressure, which is the point of maximum heat transfer. And even at the blowout pressure of 17.5 psi, the water is still about 10 degrees below its boiling point.

                      Here -- look it up.

                      http://www.heat-transfer-fluid.com/pd...

                      Science can be so annoying sometimes.

                    2. re: rjbh20

                      we went through this before. It allows the mixture to attain a higher temperature than 212 for a longer period of time.

                      But you still have to bring it to a boil to build up enough steam to close the seal on the pressure cooker.

                      You then turn down the heat so you maintain the boil....

                2. re: C. Hamster

                  One detail that C. Hamster recommends that I think is essential is starting with COLD broth.

                  When the egg whites are slowly heated along with the broth, there's a lot more opportunity for clarifying.

                  While this isn't necessary for most applications of stock, it's important to remember the value of a well-made consommé.
                  And ground meat and aromatics in the raft absolutely enhance the flavor of the liquid.

                3. Some of the recommendations here are out to lunch. I hoped they are backed up by real world results.

                  I learned the correct way from Elizabeth David's books, and it is derived from Escoffier.

                  Make your stock as usual (PC is fine) and when strained and chilled, remove every scrap of fat. All of it has to be removed.

                  Slowly bring the stock to a simmer. Whisk several egg whites to a frothy stage and slowly add them to the stock. Simmer and stir very gently.
                  They will form curds and sink, taking the cloudy parts with them, in about 20 minutes.

                  Strain through cheesecloth, and you'll have a crystal clear broth for consomme or jellied preparations.,

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jayt90

                    what? the raft doesn't sink. it's called a raft because it stays afloat. pro kitchens use a special stockpot with a spigot on the bottom to facilitate careful draining that won't disturb the floating raft and the gunk it has collected.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Yes, the raft should float on the top like a crust.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Yup.
                        A cook in any pro. kitchen who is tasked with making stock who allows the stock to come to a boil doesn't work there for long.
                        Where I worked there were always at least a couple of 10 stock pots slow simmering away on the back of flat tops.
                        Each with valves a few inches off the bottom of the pots. The restaurant's line chef/cooks had a couple of smaller pots always on the go decanted from the main pots.

                    2. Just remember that clarifying a stock takes out the suspended parts in the liquid. That's where a lot of the flavor is so unless you ned a clear stock I'd skip this process.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zackly

                        That is not true.

                      2. After the raft forms, gently ladle the stock through the raft

                        The raft will act as a filter

                        Forming the raft will pick up a lot of solids, but once the raft forms it will stop collecting solids. Then start filtering the stock through the raft. I have not done this in a pressure cooker, just stock pots.

                        I have used ground beef to make stock and used the egg white raft

                        1. If you are interested in much clearer stock (not perfectly clear) the easy way- you might switch from the European method to the Chinese method.

                          Simmer the meat and bones in water for about ten minutes. Wash the bones very well under running water, throw away the gross, scummy water and wash out the pot. Put the clean bones back in the clean pot, add water and simmer all day.

                          Clean, clearer, highly flavored stock.

                          I use chicken carcass and a few pork neck bones in mine. I prefer it to other methods most of the time.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sedimental

                            Sedimental makes a good point. If you are careful with your stocks, not boiling them & skimming frequently you can produce a very clear stock. As I mentioned earlier I'm not a big fan of the clarification process because it robs the stock of flavor. You can however reduce the consomme to intensify flavor and or add MSG. I haven't clarified a chicken stock in ages but I remember we'd use egg whites, ground veal or chicken (we had tons of veal scraps from breaking down legs) parsley stems, egg shells if we had them. I do not remember adding acid but /i don't think it could hurt but I wouldn't add tomatoes unless you want a darker finished broth.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              This is how I make stock also. Simmering first then washing the bones reduces a lot of work having to skim skim skim. This method is important if you are adding pork or veal bones to the chicken bones. They give up a lot of blood etc during the first simmer.

                            2. Sounds like you made egg drop soup when you only whipped the egg whites until a bit frothy.

                              What I've done in the past is whipped whites until stiff peaks. The idea is the air in the egg will keep the egg raft floating and the structure is airy to "filter" the debris. Also, I've added finely sliced mirepoix to the egg mixture to add more support.

                              My method is based up on Julia Child's "Way to Cook."