Stewing aims at making an extract of nutritive juices of the food, which are then used for cooking. A low, steady heat is wanted, and since nothing is lost in this process, it is one of the most economical ways of preparing food. The meat is chopped into convenient-sized portions, seasoned (if there are bones, they are also broken up and put into the pot); the whole is covered with cold water and a tight-fitting lid put on to the pot, which is placed near the fire but never allowed to boil. The old saying, "A stew boiled is a stew spoiled," is a true one. If vegetables are to be added, they are best put into the pot after the meat is half-done, as the flavours of the vegetables are lost with too continuous cooking. The more slowly the stew is cooked the better it is done. Tough meats are rendered more digestible by the addition of a little vinegar to loosen their fibres and to convert them into acid albumoses.
Braising is very much the same as stewing. The meat is again slowly cooked in a closed vessel, the meat being just covered with an extract of animal and vegetable juices (stock) instead of water, and by this means the flavour of the meat is improved, the meat becoming impregnated with the flavours. This method is best adapted for foods somewhat insipid in themselves, like veal, poultry, and sweetbreads. At the end of the process the meat should be browned; this is carried out by having a concave lid in which hot cinders can be placed, or it may be done by radiation before the fire.
This brings us to the consideration of Soup and Soupmaking.