Clear stock

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Joined Dec 1, 2015
I question the existence of a "clear" stock.  Consommé is clear but all stocks have some opacity. 

Discuss.
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
But now that has me thinking... Is white sauce really white?

Don't discuss... Please Just think about it with me.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
I never understood the idea of clear stock.

If I'm making chicken stock for example, there are definite ratios of meat to vegetable to herbs.

The resulting stock is bland and has very little flavor.

Now make a sauce from this stock, and it too is bland, irrespective of enhancements.
If I'm making a chicken soup from this stock, I must now add chicken base to bring out the flavor.
Why?
Shouldn't beef or chicken stock taste strongly of beef or chicken?
 
615
60
Joined Dec 1, 2015
I never understood the idea of clear stock.

If I'm making chicken stock for example, there are definite ratios of meat to vegetable to herbs.

The resulting stock is bland and has very little flavor.

Now make a sauce from this stock, and it too is bland, irrespective of enhancements.
If I'm making a chicken soup from this stock, I must now add chicken base to bring out the flavor.
Why?
Shouldn't beef or chicken stock taste strongly of beef or chicken?
I have also found that with some standard ratios, the result can be bland.  On my own, I find I need about twice as much meat and vegetables and the reduction has to be about 1/3 to 1/2 by the time it's done.  I can get a pretty strong flavor.

I also find that I have to get the water temp to about 180 and let it for for at least 18 hours.  This actually keeps it pretty clear because there is almost no water movement.  I have to ladle it off but then I'm always left with the dilemma of the last 1-2 cups at the bottom of the pot.  This usually goes into its own little container for some use in which clarity is irrelevant.

It has also crossed my mind that maybe results are different these days with the current methods under which beef and poultry are raised.  
 
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Joined Jul 13, 2012
Here is a "stock", "broth", etc. I made a while back.  I roasted chicken carcass and veg then cooked it at 190 for 48hrs. using my sous vide controller.  I lifted out the bones and veg then let it rest for an hour.  This is the top 2/3rds. ladled right out of the pot no filtering.  I learned from watching "Tampopo" that for clear stock you never let it boil.

 
615
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Joined Dec 1, 2015
 
Here is a "stock", "broth", etc. I made a while back.  I roasted chicken carcass and veg then cooked it at 190 for 48hrs. using my sous vide controller.  I lifted out the bones and veg then let it rest for an hour.  This is the top 2/3rds. ladled right out of the pot no filtering.  I learned from watching "Tampopo" that for clear stock you never let it boil.
One learns a lot from Tampopo.....

The ladle is definitely important.  Nice color, btw.  I can never discard that last 1/3, no matter how cloudy.  The flavor of homemade stuff is just too good to waste, even if cloudy.

Is your sous vide one of the "rod" type that you insert into the pot?  I find if I just watch it before I go to bed and adjust the heat, I can get it to a nice 180-185 all night.
 
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Joined Jul 13, 2012
I kept the last 1/3rd I just ran it through a cloth.  I use either a pot on a hot plate or my crock pot plugged into a PID controller.  
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
I'm old enough to not recognize the term "Clear Stock", It's a relatively new term. I personally think it refers to a stock that is clear of flavor.

  Coming up I can remember being deemed the tender of the new batch of stock. Usually a three day turn, from cutting bones, vege prep, sifting through discard for usable product, to guarding the raft for the consume. Which I consider "Clear Stock.

  I also understand that overall taste buds have changed. Manufactured foods have infused so much sodium into the normal diet that it takes the addition of base/salt, not a reduction, to have an impact the normal taste buds.

  Years back I used to encounter this when the Chef smoked cigarettes, it had the same effect on taste buds. One could pick out the Chef who smoked by the addition of salt to his or her preparations.

For me personally, I've always understood the term clear was not for color. It meant there was no identifiable particles including the minute ones that caused any type of cloudiness.
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
@rpooley, clarify (pun) for me, are you pro or con opacity. Any stock can be made crystal clear by following consomme protocol, building a raft...blah blah blah, so they can exist; or are you questioning the validity or need of such a practise. Where exactly is the discussion supposed to head.

Signed, confused.
 
615
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Joined Dec 1, 2015
Not talking about consommé.  All recipes talk about not letting stocks boil or simmer too briskly in order to keep them "clear" but some opacity always seems to result.  My stocks always cook at about 180-185, never a shiver of the water.   Always a bit opaque.  Never changes taste but it's interesting how often it appears in instructions.  I question feasibility more than validity.
 
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WOW. ... I don't get it. It's only stock for criminy sake. I'm not cooking anything for 18 or 48 freakin' hours ... particularly stock. My goodness. I make my stock buy roasting all the veggie scraps of the day and including bones or carcasses of the given meat. Then I throw in whatever herbs I got fresh at the time and boil it for a while and let it sit until cool. Then I strain it getting rid of any solids. Finally I reduce it until I think it's reduced enough. It goes into the refrigerator until tomorrow when anything left will have separated into a thin fat cap which gets pitched. We make it on a simple schedule. When we've used half of what we've got ... we make another batch. 

"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery."
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Where did the term "clear" come from? Sounds like a modern way of saying clarified. Keep the stock on low and slow until done. Strain carefully.  If better clarity is needed, strain or raft it.  I once strained ten gallons of turkey stock though several large coffee filters. Came out clear as could be, still had great flavor. Some cold, jellied stock got knocked out onto the floor. You could see every crack and crevice of the floor through the stock. 
 
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Joined Dec 1, 2015
It's not my word/description but any extensive reading of the culinary lexicon and it comes up quite a bit in recipes/chapters/discussions of stocks, not just consommé which we all know is defined as clear.  Just regular everyday stock like we all make.  I just thought it was odd and probably somewhat subjective.
 
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Its not.

Soups had a much more important place on the menu 30 years ago then they do now. The more expensive the menu, the more elaborate the soup. There are, literally, hundreds of consomme garnishes and variations. And there are numerous soups that feature delicate, finely cut vegetables and garnishes in a clear broth. The effect would be lost on a cloudy broth, hence the need for a clear stock.

The cloudiness is dead protein. By now, you should know at what temp. protein coagulates. If the coagulated protein is not removed immediately, it will break up into finer particles and cloud the stock.

So, there are two ways of dealing with this, one is to watch your stock like an eagle for the first 45 minutes or so, and ladle off any scum that appears. Sometimes longer. The second way is to let the stock settle in the fridge for a few days and then siphon off the top 2/3, keeping this, and using the remainder for other purposes. The siphoning doesn't work for gelatin rich stocks though, so its back to good cooking practises, and skim, skim, skim.
 
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Joined Dec 1, 2015
I would offer that all stocks must have some opacity, otherwise there would never be a need for the clarification of consommé.  
 
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Joined Sep 5, 2008
 
I would offer that all stocks must have some opacity, otherwise there would never be a need for the clarification of consommé.  
Your logic is flawed. If I have multiple stocks, and only one of them has some opacity, and that's the one stock I want to turn into a consommé, then there is a need for clarification. 
 

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