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Stock pot is a generic name for one of the most common types of cooking pot used worldwide. A stock pot is traditionally used to make stock or broth, which can be the basis for cooking more complex recipes. It is a wide pot with a flat bottom, straight sides, a wide opening to the full diameter of the pot, two handles on the sides, and a lid with a handle on top.
French Chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) published "A Guide to Modern Cookery" in 1907. On the first page, Escoffier writes, "stocks are the keynote of culinary structure" in French cuisine. A stock or broth is made by simmering water for several hours, to continuously cook added foods such as pieces of meat, meat bones, fish or vegetables. The slow simmering process transfers flavours, colours and nutrients to the water, where they blend, and a new ingredient is thus created, the broth or stock.
A broth made with meat or meat bones creates a base with concentrated flavours and aromas, even without the addition of salt or herbs or spices. This is what is referred to as soup base. Stock pots are also used for cooking stews, porridge, boiled foods, steamed shellfish, and a vast variety of recipes.
Stock pots have great versatility, and so they are used for many cooking purposes, and occasionally non-cooking purposes. Large stock pots may be used at home to boil clothing, wool or yarn for colour dying, for example. They do not come in standard sizes. The size of the pot is normally given on the manufacturer's label by volume, for example 12 litres.
The most common materials for manufacturing stock pots are stainless steel, aluminium, copper and enamel (Vitreous enamel) on metal. More expensive types of stock pots have bottoms that are made of layers of different metals, to enhance heat conductivity.
A recent innovation sculpts the pot sides to harness the boiling liquid into a self-stirring pot.