Chicken, beef, vegetable, or fish — homemade stock is a handy staple to have around since it serves as the foundation for so many recipes we love. But we've always been taught that stock should be as clear as possible and free from cloudy imperfections, which is often easier said than done.
So what if your stock does turn out cloudy? Does it really matter?
The Taste Is What Matters
At the end of the day, what's really important is how your stock tastes — not the way it looks — so it's okay if your stock turns out cloudy. While it might not look perfect, the cloudiness doesn't affect the overall flavor of the stock. After all, we're cooking in our own kitchen, not working the line in a fine-dining restaurant.
This Is Why Your Stock Is Cloudy
There are a few reasons why your stock may have turned out cloudy. Generally speaking, the cloudy nature of stock is simply due to impurities or particles in the stock.
Stock should always be started with cold water and cooked, uncovered, at a simmer, without ever coming to a full boil. If the stock does boil, some of the fat will emulsify into the liquid, which can make it cloudy. Another reason for cloudiness is that the stock wasn't strained well or at all.
Here's How You Can Fix It
To avoid homemade stock becoming cloudy in the first place, always start with cold water, regardless of the type of stock you're making. Be sure not to turn the heat too high to avoid the stock from reaching a boil as it cooks. This is a good preventative measure to keep impurities, like small pieces of the ingredients or fats, from clouding the stock.
If the stock does become cloudy, the best way to remove impurities is by straining it. Use a fine-mesh strainer, and consider lining it with cheesecloth to catch even more food particles and bits of fat.
But really, unless you're making a consommé or other recipe that requires a pristine-looking stock, it's okay if your stock is a little bit cloudy. Looks aren't everything — your soup, stew, or braise will turn out just fine and taste delicious.