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As part of my Thanksgiving preparation, I made a chicken and turkey stock by first roasting the bones and then cooking them very low for a few hours. About an hour or so before the end of their cooking, I added roasted vegetables -- a combination of onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, turnip, and parsley root. I didn't add any other flavoring other than a touch of salt. (I know most people don't salt their stocks, but I tend to undersalt everything, so adding it at every step will help.)

My stock is tasty, but rather sweet. Is this a factor of too many sweet vegetables (or not enough celery)? Or is there something else I'm missing?

(I compensated in my gravy by adding a touch of soy sauce and fish sauce to add more umami flavoring. But I'd like to understand why it happened.)

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Roasted onions and carrots are usually very sweet! It depends upon the quantity you used ... –  belisarius Nov 25 '10 at 16:31
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It's the parsnips. I chop them small and add them to the soup as vegetables near the end rather than adding them as aromatics to the stock. –  Chris Cudmore Nov 25 '10 at 17:19
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I really recommend not salting stock. It is so easy to add later if you're making soup or sauce, but impossible to remove if you're making a risotto or anything that doesn't need salt. –  Aaronut Nov 25 '10 at 18:45
    
I don't think I ever want to eat risotto cooked with unsalted stock. –  vwiggins Nov 26 '10 at 15:16
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@Aaronut While I agree with checking the seasoning later I've found when you know some salt needs adding you're best getting it in as early in the cooking process as possible as then you need less over all. A "touch of salt" in the stock means you can get a full profile of the stock's flavour before adding it to the risotto. Completely unsalted chicken stock for instance tastes of nothing. The exception might be if the sheer quantity of salt in the risotto's additions (like a greater than usual proportion of cheese) would bring the salt levels too high. –  vwiggins Dec 8 '10 at 10:14
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Some vegetables are aromatics for infusing flavor without changing the underlying base, and certain combinations become known for cuisines. Onion, celery and carrots make mire-poix. Onions, garlic and tomato make sofrito.

Turnips and parsnips are not those kinds of vegetables, usually. Parsnips get very sweet (a good thing usually) as do onions and carrots. You just combined a lot of the ones that get sweet and intensified it by roasting.

If you are looking for a more neutral broth, stay with onions, celery and carrots and simmer, don't roast.

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Anytime you roast your veggies they will get sweeter. So if you want to keep your stock less sweet, use raw veggies. –  FoodTasted Nov 25 '10 at 18:02
    
Ah, that makes sense. I added turnips and parsnips because I like them. Same with the parsley root. :-) But maybe next time I should not roast the parsnips. –  Martha F. Nov 25 '10 at 18:20
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@Martha: Don't roast any of the vegetables, otherwise you don't have a true mirepoix. In addition you should use a 2:1:1 ratio (50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery). If you up the carrots too much, it'll be too sweet even without roasting. –  Aaronut Nov 25 '10 at 18:42
    
@Aaronaut - I think you're on to something with the carrots. They were actually pretty huge, I had to chop them in half lengthwise, so they'd fit in the oven. (Yes, I helped Martha make the stock.) –  Neil Fein Nov 26 '10 at 1:51
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@Aaronut -- Ah, okay. Thanks for the explanation! (And all I need to remember is that you're a nut, not a space case. ;-) –  Martha F. Nov 27 '10 at 23:18
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The size, or surface area, of the vegetables makes a difference as well. Carrots chopped too small will make a stock overly sweet. And as others have said, use raw vegetables.

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That certainly can happen, although they have to be really finely chopped for it to be a problem; fine enough to actually break down and dissolve during the simmering, almost a minced consistency. The standard 1/2" cube works well. –  Aaronut Nov 25 '10 at 23:28
    
@Aaronut True, should have specified a size in my comment. –  Ryan Anderson Nov 26 '10 at 14:45
    
Makes sense, but this wasn't the problem in this case. I had quite large pieces. –  Martha F. Nov 26 '10 at 15:44
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