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Stock Pot – A Brief History

The history of the pot is not nearly as old as one might think. Cooking dishes were a very slow but necessary part of the evolution of humanity. While early man used reeds, turtle tissues, mollusks, and the stomachs of animals to heat his food, the evolution to pottery was a slow process. The pottery allowed the food to be retained on a slow and low fire. The pottery cracks when it is super heated. Even modern pottery is reserved for slow cooking. No open fire, please! Only after the development of bronze and iron, metal pots became another choice. A boiler similar to modern stock pots was found in medieval cuisine. A boiler had a rounded bottom and a curved handle that hung over an open fire. Boilers or kettles were used for cooking or boiling liquids. The boilers fell out of favor when they became a symbol of witchcraft and the requirement of an open fire.

The pots are round, with a flat bottom and handles on both sides. A lid is a useful accessory. The rounded handles become hot when cooking, which makes them less useful than the upper side handles, which appeared on modern dishes. Stock pots are made from a small range of modern metals. Useful metals for pots conduct heat well and are not chemically reactive. The food should not taste like a frying pan, nor should the qualities of the metal become part of your diet. The metals that have been used over time are aluminum, copper, cast iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, enameled cast iron, enamel over steel, iron clad or copper and metal with non-stick interior.

While stainless steel has many excellent qualities, heat conduction is not one of them. A good stainless steel vessel should have another metal that conducts heat to the base of the vessel.

In construction, a stock pot is similar to a large sauce pot. A pot of sauce is as tall vertically as the diameter of the bottom. The pots are measured by volume. The smaller the sauce bowl, the more likely it is to have a single handle, much longer. The stock pots are much larger, with two handles on both sides, to use both hands to balance the weight of the pot. Stock pots are also measured in volume, usually from 6 to 36 liters. The sides of a stock pot are at least as large as its diameter, allowing the stock to boil for long periods of time. The stock is created by placing vegetables or meat in a large amount of water and boiling for a long time. Reducing the liquid creates a rich stock (vegetables or meat) to be used as a base for soups, stews, pot pies and sauces. Some meats do not lend themselves well to stock as pork due to their fatty quality.

Some recommendations for a good stock is to start with cold water, add meat to a ratio of one part meeting to two parts water, add meat before vegetables, boil with bubbles that break the top (do not boil) and foam coming to the top should be degreased and discarded.

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