Some advice on my funky stocks would be appreciated

Joined Apr 13, 2017
Hello, I have recently started making stocks and they are not turning out quite how I imagined. I'm not sure what is wrong but they have an odd 'dirty water' or something like that taste to them in addition to the meat taste. Here is what I have done:

Stock Diary

First stock:  beef stock. Roasted beef bones, carrots, brown onions until golden. Added bay leaf, fresh thyme, and pan deglaze to pot. Pressure cooked high 2 hours. Had that weird murky taste. egg raft made it clearer and took away some of that taste but not all. was jelly like next morning as expected.

Second stock: brown chicken stock. 1 carcass from the previous night's roast chicken, 1kg chicken necks that I pan-fried until golden, sauteed carrots and brown onion. Added bay leaf, fresh thyme, and pan deglaze to pot. Pressure cooked for 1.5 hours. Had that same weird murky taste as the last stock. Used an egg raft to clarify, which made it clearer but not taste any better. After a night in the fridge it wasn’t jelly-like at all.

Third stock: pork stock. Making pea and ham soup so making a pork stock incidentally while cooking the ham hocks. 1.5 ham hocks, raw carrot, brown onions, few peppercorns in the pressure cooker. 1 hour on high. Turned out lovely.

So what did I do wrong? Does the funk come from the bones or the vegetables? Perhaps I should:

- blanch bones first (how do you blanch chicken wings or necks etc)

- wash raw meat first or soak in cold water before roasting and/or using in stock? ham hocks are already cured, did that have something to do with stock 3 turning out well?

- use raw vegetables instead of sauteed or roasted even for brown stocks?

- try a little tomato paste when roasting the bones?

- Pressure cook for less time? All pressure cooker times I gleaned from online recipes (specifically for stocks 1 and 2, the pressure cooker stock recipes on

- Leave out the bay and thyme - maybe they go off when cooked long?

If anyone has any insight I would appreciate it.


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
Most likely you are not rinsing your bones and you also should skim off the scum (greyish foam) at the top from time to time. We have some great how-to articles on stocks by chefs here:
[article="6680"]How To Make White Stock  [/article][article="6687"]How To Make Brown Stock  [/article][article="28103"]How To Make Pheasant Stock  [/article][article="6708"]Stock  [/article]
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Hmm, weird. When I use a pressure cooker to make stock it usually turns out really clear and with great flavor. 

Are you certain you are using the pressure cooker correctly? It is also possible that you are overdoing it on the time/pressure, just like you said...

It might also be that your roasting and deglazing is imparting bitter and "off" flavors to the stock. The 1 stock that you didn't roast/brown before making is the one that you said turned out great. 

Maybe try making "white" stock and adding roasted flavors later if you want them? 

My guess is that you just need to keep experimenting and figure out what the variables are. 

What is the "dirty water" taste you are talking about? Can you describe it more?

I've also noticed that sometimes when we open the pressure cooker after cooking, it fills the room with a very unpleasant aroma for a few minutes. The stock, after that initial smell goes away, is very aromatic and tastes great. 
Joined Feb 17, 2010
How about mastering stocks the old fashioned way, on the stove top first then experimenting with the pressure cooker?
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I make my chicken stock on the stove top using all the bones and leftovers from the carcasse.  Added are bay leaves, the base of a stalk of cerely, thyme, garlic and very little salt.  The stock is clarified as time goes on using a skimmer and it comes out crystal clear.  Oh and the most important thing is to NOT BOIL THE STOCK.  It simmers for the entirety, barely bubbling if at all.

(EDIT)  Oh, and don't forget to add onions, green onions and perhaps leeks, too.  Personally I don't like carrots added to chicken stock.  And, all the skins, that is the hard outer coverings of the onions go into the stock. 

To clarify I'll pour off the liquid the next morning while still cold so as to leave the scum setting on the bottom of the stock pot and my preference for a stock pot is one that is tall and narrow allowing to skim off the fat more easily than from a brasier.  For a carcasse or two I recommend using an eight quart stock pot measuring 9 inches tall and 9 inches in diameter.
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Joined Apr 13, 2017
Nicko and Kokopuffs, yes maybe the next thing to try is to rinse and dry the bones first. The pressure cooker stock techniques I have read said not to worry about the scum since the pressure cooker doesn't boil and move the contents around - supposedly its the foolproof way to avoid the rolling boiling issue. I do notice when I pour the stock through the strainer that there is sediment at the bottom. I thought straining and clarifying was the answer to that. Perhaps the scum still imparts a taste? Nicko, I will have a look at your links.

Chefbuba, the reason I use the pressure cooker is because my husband cannot stand the smell of constant cooking for as long as it takes to make something like a stock. The pressure cooker was the compromise. The pressure cooker stocks are coming out fairly clear, not cloudy, they just become more so when I use the egg white raft.

Someday, it is really hard to describe the weird taste. It isn't bitter, but it is .... have you ever had one of those boxed vegetable stocks you can buy at the supermarket? Like if you took that, which already has a gross taste, and let it sit out for a while and then added water that had a little soil in it... That is as close as I can come to what it is. Funky. I am not sure if the roasting and deglazing is the issue. Nothing goes black. I deglaze with water.

Yes, I think a white stock is the next step. At least that way I can rule out something with the roasting step. If it still has that weird taste, then rinsing and scum must be the culprit.

Thankyou everyone for helping me come up with what to try next.
Joined Aug 15, 2003 your pressure cooker aluminum? What type of pressure cooker do you have? If it is aluminum, cooking something in it for a long time (especially in the presence of an acidic food like wine or tomato paste) can impart off, metallic flavors. 

Also, what type of beef bones are you using for the beef stock? Maybe if there is a high amount of marrow that could be the culprit. Are you using grass fed beef? Where are your chickens from? 

One other option (though a small one) is that the meat is off or maybe sat in the freezer or something. 

It's weird because I've made pressure cooker stock many many times, and I've actually found it to be superior to traditional stock, especially in small to medium batches. 
Joined Apr 13, 2017
Someday, I have an electric pressure cooker with an aluminum bowl insert that has a ceramic coating (Breville fast slow pro). Its fairly new, unscratched, and everything else I have made in it doesn't have a metallic taste, but I will watch for that. I use the Stock setting in the interface (80 kPa) and adjust the time.

All meat and bones I have used for my stocks have been bought from the same butcher, free range only, no idea about grass fed for the beef. Yes, the beef bones were frozen, as was the whole defrosted chicken, and the chicken necks. I've been going to this butcher for years and never had a complaint, but I do know they freeze the beef bones and chicken extras because they don't sell many. The beef bones were leg and knuckle bones cut into ~ 6cm sections. There must have been marrow.
Joined Apr 16, 2017
Maybe the problem is with your water.  Our municipal water often has a funky taste and in late summer smells distinctly like a swimming pool.  We've installed an under-counter water filter and find the filtered water makes better tasting food.

What follows is how I make stock, which is not at all fussy or professional, just home cook utilitarian.  Yes, I acknowledge that a truly pure stock is made with bare bones but I find these to be fairly tasteless.

I make cloudy-but-I-don't-care stocks in enameled cast iron dutch ovens, bringing them to a boil on top of the stove, covering, and then putting in a slow oven for a 2 or 3 hours.  I've learned that I need a lot of solid matter to make a good stock.  If I have too much water and too few solids, the broth will always taste more of tap water than of the animal involved.  I also find having a good bit of meat on the bones makes a better tasting, though "impure" stock.  To me, cooked meat and bones make a tastier stock than raw.

The best "utility" stock I've made lately is from turkey necks, which have enough flavor to not even need roasting before making the stock.  The local supermarket sells 5 lb. packages of turkey necks for a few bucks so it's a cheap option, too.  Don't expect to save the meat after boiling for stock (unless you have a cat who likes it).  By the time it's boiled so long it has donated all its flavor to the stock.

I have a neighbor trained to save any ham or beef bones for me. He's generous about leaving meat on the bones, bless his heart, so a stock from his bones is great. Yes, ham bones, too.  Ham stock is great for a quick canned-bean soup.  If we have chicken or turkey, I save not only the carcass but any skin and meat scraps for the stock.  It all adds flavor.  

For a dutch oven pot of stock, enough meat & bones to fill the pot by a third, the stems from a bunch or two of flat-leafed parsley, a teaspoon or two of peppercorns, and half-a-dozen or so bay leaves results in a tasty stock.  

After straining the stock through a screen sieve, I generally refrigerate it overnight.  Occasionally, if it seems very cloudy, I will strain it through a cheese towel.  Overnight, the fat floats to the top and solidifies making it easy to lift off.  Any solid matter sinks to the bottom.  

I store the stock in 1-cup and 2-cup plastic containers like the kind used in delis.  They stack well and are know quantities making it easier to use the frozen stock in recipes.  They are available in sleeves of a couple dozen or so on Amazon, go through the dishwasher, and are easily marked with a laundry pen.

Pic is the current store of ham and turkey stocks from the freezer.  As I use these up, there are more bones and parsley stems in the freezer awaiting their turn.  My quantities are limited by a small top-of-the-fridge freezer.

Joined Feb 3, 2011
Roast some extra veggies and taste them before you put them in the cooker. If they have any sort of bitterness, tartness, or unpleasant flavour you know what to do. Thyme can get a bit 'sharper' if you over ok it. It won't be the meat. It's either roasted or burnt and burnt can't be fixed. Seasoning??...but not much point if the base flavour isn't there. Just a hint, cut the rind off fresh bacon, remove all the fat and put those little smokey snakes in the stock. Helps with the flavour and the set.
Good luck
Joined Sep 5, 2008
I would simplify until you find the culprit. For example I would skip the bay leaf. I've never tried using a bay leaf for 1.5 Hr in a pressure cooker but that sounds like way too much. When I use a bay leaf I'll use one for 1/2 hour (regular stock pot, uncovered), and it's strong enough!! I have to say I use fresh bay leaves so maybe that makes a difference, but I know that bay leaves are tricky because they can easily overpower all other flavors.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
I'm about 90% certain the problem is your pressure cooker. Try "pure white stock": just plain water and nothing else. I bet it comes out with that funky smell.

I have a bit of this problem too, actually. The only solution I've found is to clean the vent by boiling in white vinegar. (Did you know this can be removed? Many people don't.) Also replace the rubber gasket.
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