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I recently read that cooking stock for more than about 2 hours negatively affects the flavor, and eventually vitiates the vitamins due to heat degradation.

This seems to conflict with advice I've read previously, which states that you need to do a "shimmering only" simmer (no bubbles) for 24-36 hours in order to extract/denature all of the collagen.

My questions are:

  • Is it true that extended simmering destroys flavor and nutrients, and if so, is it due to the time, temperature, or some combination of the two?

  • Which advice is better to follow? What are the optimal simmering times for the meat and vegetables?

  • If the simmering time for vegetables is shorter - at what stages should I add (and remove) them?

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Welcome to Seasoned Advice, evoldog. Please note that we expect questions to be specific - we don't review recipes in detail for the same reason we don't accept recipe requests. I've edited this to what I think is your specific question; if this isn't what you were looking for, feel free to edit, but please be specific and keep unnecessary details to a minimum. (Tip: If you're having trouble wording the title as a single-sentence question, it's probably not specific enough.) –  Aaronut May 6 '12 at 15:17
    
I wonder what vitamins you are trying to get from a stock. As far as I know, there aren't any interesting vitamins in bones. Calcium isn't destroyed by heat. The vegetables are added at the end, they only simmer for 45 min. The vitamins in them are probably destroyed, but if you think you need them, you should eat the vegetables fresh. –  rumtscho May 7 '12 at 8:52
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2 Answers 2

Pressure Cooker advice:

For chicken stock, it depends on if you are cooking a brown chicken stock or a white chicken stock. Traditional recipes may differ, but in a pressure cooker I usually go for an hour for a white chicken stock, then add the vegetables for the last 30 minutes to maintain their freshness of flavour. For a brown chicken stock, two hours with caramelised vegetables being put in at the beginning for the full length of time.

Vegetable stock, no longer than 20 minutes in a pressure cooker. Possibly adding aromats such as herbs into re-warmed stock to infuse.

It is important to allow the pressure cooker to cool completely before removing the lid and not manually venting the pressure. By letting it cool down in the pot you are maintaining all the delicate aromas and complex flavours within the stock, not losing them into the atmosphere. Every time something smells good that is cooking, that's flavour thats being lost from the finished dish.

Stove-top cooker advice:

(Been a while so this is slightly sparse) 2-3 hours simmering for a white chicken stock, again vegetables for maybe only the lat 45 minutes to an hour.

4-5 hours brown chicken stock, caramelised vegetables in at the beginning for the full length of time.

30 minutes tops for vegetable stock.

Again, infuse aromats into re-warmed stock for added depth

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It is true that flavour is affected by cooking time. Most likely nutrients as well, but its about the vegetables. If you cook beef stock you should indeed cook it for several hours to release the collagen and proteins. My experience with chicken takes less time so 30 minutes in the pressure cooker or 1,5 hours in a normal pot. Then you can eat the meat as well. Vegetables should only cook for 30 minuts so add the vegetables 30 minutes before the end of cooking regardless of the kind of soup. The fresh flavor of the vegetables will disapear if you cook it for longer then that. Someone doing research on the flavour development and time for making stock

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