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I've read that the ideal way to make stock is to:

  • crack the large bones
  • place the carcass in a stock pot
  • cover with water
  • bring it to a simmer (not a boil) on the stove
  • place the whole thing in the oven on 180F for 6+ hours (possibly add vegetables an hour before you're done)

Apparently the temperature is key. You don't want it to go over 180F because that ... does something to the stock. Harsher flavors or cloudy stock. Can't recall what.

After all of this cooking of stock is done, you want to preserve it. Canning seems ideal because it frees up freezer space. But would the canning process raise the temperature of the stock above that 180F mark that seems so critical?

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It appears to me based on the link provided, preparation method and characteristics (cloudiness etc.) that you're actually talking about stock, so I've edited your post accordingly. –  Aaronut Nov 30 '10 at 21:17
    
@aaronaut: seems reasonable -- I'm not completely clear on the difference –  jcollum Nov 30 '10 at 21:22
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The difference is as clear as mud. But whatever definition you choose, the biggest difference is usually in purity, which is pertinent to this question. –  Aaronut Nov 30 '10 at 21:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The purpose of using a low simmer during stock-making is to avoid agitating the liquid. You want the fat to settle on top, but a rapid boil will simply disperse the fat and other impurities all throughout the stock, resulting in - as you've hinted at - a cloudy texture and possibly an inferior taste.

The other reason to avoid boiling is simply to prevent the stock from reducing too much. If you're simmering for 6 hours, you could lose all the water. If you leave the stock unattended during that time, and the water level drops too low, then you're not getting anything out of it; the water needs to be covering the bones in order to break down the collagen.

All that said, once you are finished with stock, you should have skimmed it and strained it through a fine sieve and probably a few layers of cheesecloth as well. If you've made your stock correctly, it will be clear and have (almost) no fat. Boiling it briefly at that point isn't really going to harm it; there's not enough fat left to cloud the stock and you're not boiling it for long enough to really reduce it.

So I would say go ahead and don't worry about the temperature. As far as I know, nothing magical happens at 180° F, that's just a rough temperature guideline for "low simmer".

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In the comments thread in the post (from Michael Ruhlman) I linked, they seem to think that going over 180F makes the stock bitter (something about bitter and unwanted flavors). The author doesn't address it directly. Re: the fats: seems easy enough to skim them off the top when it cools. Boiling at the end seems like a good idea for bacteria control... worth a taste test. –  jcollum Nov 30 '10 at 21:33
    
@jcollum: In many cases, the stock is going to be used for something where it will be heated to boiling point anyway, presumably without this bitter flavour arising. So I imagine that any supposed bitterness resulting from high temperatures would come from the bones and other aromatics being cooked at those temperatures, just like the cloudiness. –  Erik P. Nov 30 '10 at 21:47
    
@jcollum: I can't seem to find this comment you're referring to. Can you be more specific? I cannot think of any reason why going above 180° F would make the stock bitter - just cloudy/fatty due to the agitation. –  Aaronut Nov 30 '10 at 22:25
    
yeah, it's in the original post: blog.ruhlman.com/2007/11/thanksgiving-th.html. Look for 'EdTheRed November 20, 2007' in the comments. –  jcollum Nov 30 '10 at 22:35
    
@jcollum: I see. Well, it's an unverified comment on the internet so take that for what it's worth. ;) I suppose it's theoretically possible, but I don't think that the overextraction that can occur with coffee applies to bones or mirepoix, at least as long as the temperature isn't absurdly high. I've accidentally left pots of stock on "bubbly simmer" for upwards of an hour or two and haven't noticed even the slightest difference in taste - just in the water level. –  Aaronut Nov 30 '10 at 22:41

A pressure canner can reach 240 degrees. However, the point of the 180 degree limit is probably to keep the bones from dissolving and the turkey fats & proteins from mixing into the broth and making it cloudy. Once you strain the broth, you won't have to worry about that anymore. Of course, you might then worry about what the 240 degrees does to the nutritional value of your stock, but... that's another question. One I don't have an answer for.

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Ah, you're probably right: you want to keep it from boiling while the bones are in the stock. After that, it probably doesn't matter. We'll see if the group agrees. –  jcollum Nov 30 '10 at 21:23

Canning stock once it has been created and finished doesn't cause extraction, agitation and cloudiness problems because the bones are gone, the extra proteins are removed, assuming you've clarified your stock and you are down to just stock.

The temperature above 180 problems relates to what happens during the extraction process, but once the extraction is done, you can pressure can your stock and keep it for as long as you need to. I do this with broth all the time, although I also freeze broth in ice cube trays so I will have small amounts as needed. And, yes, I know there is a difference between broth and stock, but I work mostly with broth that I make using a lot of bones AND meat, ending up with a gelatinous flavorful broth, rather than an unctuous stock.

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I don't think I've ever made an "unctuous" stock. To each his own, but in my little world a well-made stock has no fat, lots of gelatin, and tons of flavour. –  Aaronut Nov 30 '10 at 22:44
    
The gelatinous smooth mouth feel is what I was going for, but I note (in looking up definitions for unctuous) that oily is more of the sense, than just smooth. Looks like I'll have to find a different word, since it doesn't mean exactly what I thought it did. Thanks. –  Doug Johnson-Cookloose Dec 12 '10 at 4:55

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