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I've been getting into making my own stocks and have decided to make a beef bone broth for the first time. I've been reading plenty of resources online however there are a lot conflicts from different sources. What I want to know is, what is the desirable temperature for cooking a bone broth over 12 hours without compromising the nutrients or gelatin?

I usually make my stocks on quite a low simmer - no continuous bubbling but rather a few bubbles every 2 or 3 seconds. I've noticed some websites advising to cook at a much higher temperature around 98 deg celsius, which is quite an aggressive rolling simmer just shy of a boil. I'm concerned about this because in my experience, such aggressive bubbling would make it difficult for the impurities and scum to float on top of the water (well to be fair, I do blanch my ingredients first to get rid of scum) but also because gelatin only needs to reach 82 deg celsius to dissolve, and you might break down the gelatin into histamines at such a high temperature. At the same time, there does seem to be some value in raising the temperature a little more than a low simmer as you can reduce the cooking time whilst not affecting the quality of the what you end up with much. Is there a sweet-spot between a low simmer and an aggressive simmer for optimal results?

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  • Why do you believe gelatin needs to reach 82C to dissolve? I'm asking because most sources online are saying it's much lower than that. My beef stock that I simmered overnight last night hovered between 80-82 all night and I'm now wondering if it hot enough to get all the gelatin out that I was hoping for. Commented Feb 6 at 18:39
  • Hi, I can’t recall now but I must’ve gotten that info online as well. I’ve made stock a couple of times since posting this and in my experience, it’s more the period of time that cook it for. My temperature is usually between 92-95 (the pot I use fluctuates so it’s a little tricky) and even at that temp I’ve made batches that didn’t end up having the jelly-like consistency presumably because I didn’t let it simmer long enough. When I cook it for at least 10 hours, it always ends up having enough gelatin. Commented Feb 8 at 5:46

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My understanding is that simmering water and boiling water are both at (or very close to) 100C at sea level. The difference in effect on food and cooking is a result of the motion (or lack thereof) in the pot. I write "or very close to" because a rolling boil ensures there is efficient mixing of the ingredients in the pot, so the temperature throughout is more likely to equilibrate. The motion of a rolling boil also impacts the ingredients in the pot, which are pushed around and knocked into one another. Anyone knowledgeable in thermodynamics can correct me if I am misunderstanding.

I usually try to minimize the bouncing around when making stocks of any sort. I think (but this is anecdotal) that a more gentle approach leads to a clearer end product.

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  • in addition to motion, it can also just be a function of the amount of energy put into the pan. A well-conducting pot of well-mixed water at 100C will lose exactly as much energy through evaporation as it gains from the hob below it. If it receives twice as much energy, that means it needs to lose twice as much water to maintain the balance
    – Tristan
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 10:51
  • You're pretty much right. There will always be some convection when there's a temperature differential in liquids (or gases) (i.e. the hot stove vs. the cooler surface). but below boiling it can't reach perfect uniformity if the heat is always coming from one direction (though if you keep it covered it'll come reasonably close). At full boil the steam rises from the bottom and heats the rest of the water to the maximum temperature it can be in liquid form, so all the liquid in the pot will be at 100C uniformly and the motion in the pot will be caused by the energy of the steam as it pushes up. Commented Feb 6 at 18:26
  • In any event based on everything I've read and experience, you don't want to get too close to boiling precisely because too much energy/motion will cause the fat and other nasty stuff to become too uniformly mixed with the liquid to easily remove. Just how close you can/should get is what I'm not sure about and was looking for when I found this. Commented Feb 6 at 18:35

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