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The 4 Characteristics of a Good Stock

Lessons From Cooking School, Miscellany/Trivia

Be they vegetable or veal, brown or white, all stocks share four common indicators of quality.  They are:


Body is created when the collagen in the connective tissue of the bones dissolves and converts to gelatin during the cooking process.  Vegetable stocks have less body than protein-based stocks.  To increase the body of a vegetable stock, add umami-rich vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, seaweed and tomatoes. (Be aware that tomatoes will also darken the stock.)


Good flavour is developed in a brown stock by caramelizing the bones and vegetables before adding them to the water.  Deglaze the roasting pan and add the liquor to the stock for additional flavour.  All stocks acquire flavour from the mirepoix and bouquet garnii.


A clear stock is one free of impurities.  Follow these 5 critical steps for good stock clarity:

  1. Start with COLD water.
  2. Always leave the stock UNCOVERED.
  3. Keep the stock at a SLOOOW simmer.
  4. Never stir a stock.
  5. Skim the stock regularly after the initial boil.


Many ingredients, such as carrots, leeks, tomatoes and mushrooms will darken the colour of a stock.  Using too many of these vegetables may cause your stock to be too green or too orange.  In a brown stock, colour is achieved by browning the bones and adding tomato paste.