Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sep10: Clarifying Broth

I vaguely remember an episode of Iron Chef where one of the Iron Chefs was boiling a broth with egg whites and ground meat. According to the commentator, the purpose egg whites and ground beef was to clarify the broth he was making.

How is this so? Wouldn't you be making an egg drop soup?

Here's what I found out.
* Using egg whites to clarify a stock/broth is a common technique used in making consommé.
* The egg whites will coagulate into a fine mesh that will "filter" the stock as it simmers.
* Egg whites seem to be the key, but you can add julienned veggies for flavor the broth and to provide the support for the egg white raft (the stuff floating on top of the liquid.)
* Common additions are crushed egg shell, ground meat, carrots, green onion and other typical flavorings that go into a stock.
* Thumbing through Julia Childs' book, The Way to Cook, she uses 4 egg whites for 5 cups of stock.

Here's my pho stock out of the fridge which I defatted by pouring through a fine mesh strainer. A good sign for the stock is the gelling from the refrigeration. This means a lot of flavor was squeezed out of the soup bones and more. :-)
I have five (5) cups remaining after serving pho on Monday.

Here’s what I did to clarify the Pho broth...
Green Onion, coarsely cut
1/4 C Daikon, shredded
1/4 C Carrots, shredded
1/4 C lean Beef, minced (trim off the fat)

Two egg whites were whipped into a soft foam. I know Julia suggested using 4 egg whites, but that just seems like too much. In other words, I’m being cheap. Lol!

Mixed all the ingredients together into the egg whites.

The egg white concoction was thoroughly mixed into the cold broth.

The broth was slowly brought to a simmer and allowed to simmer for about 35 minutes.

Wow! It worked!
I'm about to decant the broth into a colander lined with a coffee filter.

Before Clarifying (From Monday)

I would say it was a success. The muddiness is gone and now the broth is transparent. The broth looks like apple juice or apple cider vinegar. The extra ingredients also added more flavor to the so-so broth.

After Clarifying (Today)

More Info…
I found this discussion about clarifying broths using egg whites.
Also, it looks like someone watched the Iron Chef episode and was curious about clarifying broth too. :-)

http ://

Another method - you can clarify using gelatin instead of egg whites.
My post from Oct 3:


Laura said...

Thank you so much for the tips and pictures. I made beef broth for the first time yesterday and had no idea how to clarify it. This worked so very well!

Anonymous said...

thank does work....fantastic.

Don Livezey said...

Worked well for me, too. The first night, the pho was so-so in flavor, and was also murky and just not "right" on the tongue. After clarifying (and adding more salt!), it was much better the second time around.

Regarding the salt, a Vietnamese friend told me (after I whined to her about my bland broth) that you have to over-do it a bit, as the flavor gets diluted when you pour the broth over the noodles.

Do you think the coffee filter is necessary when clarifying? I used one, but found that it got clogged up pretty quickly, and the last 1/4 cup or so of the broth wouldn't even drip through. And, that was just for 3-4 cups, not a whole batch. I'm wondering if a fine mesh strainer alone might do the trick. Has anyone tried that?


Sidne said...

Yes, I made some beef stock that I plan to can and so wanted to clarify it. Thanks for the suggestions. Also, if a coffee filter is too fine, try cheese cloth which is what I am going to use.

Old World Italian said...

Got up this morning and took the turkey carcass out of the stock pot that I had cooked it in after thanksgiving (2011) And was left with a pretty thick broth/stock. I have used this before to make my traditional after Thanksgiving vegetable soup, but wanted to 'clear' it up if possible. I read a couple of other suggestions on line before finding this one and decided to give it a try. It worked perfectly! I used a chix tender (chopped/minced), one shredded carrot and one minced onion along with the 4 egg whites ( I also used one crushed egg shell which was suggested from one of the other recipes) followed the instruction and it was done. I impressed myself and some house guests. Thanks for the recipe and the pictures, those really helped me know what to look for.

dominik mj the opinionated alchemist said...

Very cool post.

There is another way to clarify [and trust me, it is even more effective] - gelatin clarification.

Only set back is, that most of the goodness of the bones [the gelatin] is gone...

Just freeze the stock and defrost it [most recipes are defrosting in the fridge, but it works also outside - which is faster] over a colander with cheese cloth.
Trust me - you cannot believe your eyes, it is so clear!

[Heston Blumenthal made this actually popular].

Eat4Fun said...

Hey all thanks for the comment.

@dominik mj the opinionated alchemist

I actually tried out gelatin clarification. It worked and was an interesting new thing I learned.

Unknown said...

I use a double layer of cheese cloth between two strainers and it works perfectly.