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The common wisdom is to store all of your vegetable trimmings (cleaned) in the freezer, and then chuck everything into the stock pot when it's time to make stock. For a meat stock, it's common to throw the bones, giblets, neck and any other left-over bits into the stock pot as well.

There must be some things which are undesirable or ill-advised for stock. What should one avoid as an ingredient for making stock, and why?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

There isn't anything that is necessarily "bad" or should always be avoided in stock, but some ingredients have qualities you won't always want.

  • Dark greens (spinach, kale, etc) can make a stock bitter and of course greenish in color. Cabbage also can impart a overwhelming bitterness.

  • Potatoes can cloud a stock from their starchiness, so they are not good when you want clear stock for something like a soup or consomme.

  • Tomatoes may overpower flavors in a light stock, but are a critical component in most dark stocks (browning tomato paste improves the color)

  • Onion skins add a deeper flavor, but yellow or red skins can change the color of a light colored stock dramatically.

  • Skin and extra fat from the meat used is sometimes avoided to reduce the amount of skimming required later on (I personally don't skim, the extra fat doesn't bother me)

  • The bones of very oily fish (mackerel, salmon, and trout for example) are usually avoided because they can make a stock too strong in specific flavors to work in any other dish. Oily fish stocks also tend to have an unpleasant odor.

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Additionally, beets would add their bright red color to stock, but the beet leaves did not add any color. –  KatieK Jun 23 '13 at 5:12
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You want to avoid salt, until the time of use--especially after reduction.

Similarly, unless you know the use for the stock in advance you might want to avoid strong herbs like sage or lemongrass.

Tomatoes probably are not suitable in my opinion for most meat stocks.

And no fingers. Definitely avoid the fingers in the stock. It is really hot, and can hurt!

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I threw in tomato "hearts" (that star structure with the seeds) for my last beef stock since I was using the "shell" for a tomato soup. It tasted fine except for the orange colour. –  Megasaur Nov 26 '12 at 8:52
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The only avoidance I've ever heard is staying away from the Liver in your stock recipes, at least until the last few minutes of cooking. This can apparently make your stock bitter.

Other than that, I'd say experiment with anything you want. The worst that can happen is you get a funny taste so long as you're cooking everything above a temperature that will kill any bacteria.

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