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One thing about making meat stock that I find consistently challenging is how to gauge the correct thickness and consistency of the stock after its initial simmer. As expected, I find this varies widely depending on the type of meat and bones I use and how long I simmer and of course how much water is used.

I don't have a problem experimenting to find the "right" result, but what I'm struggling with a little is knowing when I've achieved the right result. Sometimes after I refrigerate and skim it seems like heavy broth; other times it seems like jello. They usually both taste fine and sure I can just do "what I like", but what I want to know is what the professionals would aim for.

So if I were working in an upscale restaurant making stock, on a scale from "heavy soup" to "jello", with maybe "slush" in between, what kind of consistency would the chef expect the stock be after full refrigeration? To make sure to compare apples to apples, this is assuming the fat has been skimmed but there's been no further reduction after simmer; it's sitting in the fridge ready to be used in a sauce, soup, base for Italian beef sandwiches, etc.

What would be ideal is an objective test, like "it can hold the weight of an egg" or "it stays in the bowl when turned upside down" or "it has the consistency of heavy cream", etc., though I've not come across anything like this.

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There are all sorts of stocks and they are used for all sorts of purposes. So, this is difficult to answer. Then there are reductions of stocks used for still other purposes, like sauces. There is not really a singular consistency outcome to shoot for or an objective test.

One can have a very flavorful chicken stock that is thin in consistency, but throw a handful of chicken feet in the pot and, once chilled, it will set up like jello. The gelatin you are extracting adds to mouthfeel, it isn't necessarily a sign of a better tasting stock, but it adds to the texture...the luxuriousness?...of the stock. The variance you are experiencing is related to the products you are making your stock from. If the bones are high in gelatin (or you have a high ration of bones to water), you will extract enough gelatin to impact consistency. But, there are plenty of times that I don't want or need that.

From a culinary school perspective, stock is evaluated on flavor, clarity, body, aroma, and color. In terms of body, it will have a slight thickness and coat the back of a spoon. But there is no single standard in a restaurant setting. The cooking tradition or style needs to be taken into consideration, as does the specific requirements of a recipe, and the preference of the chef.

I make all of my own stocks regularly. In general, I am more concerned with building flavor and don't worry about the consistency all that much. When I want that rich feeling (In ramen, for example...tonight's dinner), I prepare a super rich, high in gelatin stock.

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  • Are you speaking from a restaurant or professional kitchen perspective though? I do understand the variance and the reasons for it and understand that one can always reduce or dilute as required for the dish. But my question is more about what the professional chef wants the generic stock in his or her kitchen to be like at the start of each day.. What consistency does the culinary school instructor look for in an "A+" stock? Etc. Trying to keep it as objective as possible. Jan 15 at 23:28
  • @PeterMoore answer updated.
    – moscafj
    Jan 16 at 14:40
  • "it will have a slight thickness and coat the back of a spoon" cool yeah that's the sort of thing I'm looking for thanks. Would this be when warm or after being fully chilled? Would you expect it to gelatinize when cold or just be viscous but still pourable? Jan 16 at 16:20
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    @PeterMoore when warm. In my experience, that does not guarantee it will fully gelatinize when cold.
    – moscafj
    Jan 16 at 17:16

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