The history of the common pot is not as old as you might think. Cooking vessels were a very slow but necessary part of humanity’s evolution. While primitive man used reeds, turtle leaves, mollusks, and the stomachs of animals to heat their food, the evolution to pottery was a slow process. The pottery made it possible to contain the food substances on a slow and low heat. Ceramic cracks when overheated. Even modern pottery is reserved for slow cooking. No open fire, please! It wasn’t until the development of bronze and iron that metal pots became another option. In medieval kitchen a cauldron similar to modern pots was found. A cauldron had a rounded bottom and a curved handle that hung over an open fire. Cauldrons or kettles were used to cook or boil liquids. Cauldrons fell out of favor when they became a symbol of witchcraft and the requirement for an open fire.
Stock pots are round with a flat bottom and handles on both sides. A cap is a useful accessory. The rounded handles get hot when cooking, making them less useful than the upper side handles on modern cookware. Stock pots are made from a small range of modern metals. Useful potting metals conduct heat well and are not chemically reactive. Food should not taste like a pan, nor should the qualities of metal be part of your diet. Metals that have been used over time include aluminum, copper, cast iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, enameled cast iron, enamel on steel, coated iron or copper, and metal with nonstick interiors.
While stainless steel has many great qualities, heat conduction is not one of them. A good stainless steel pot should have another, more heat-conducting metal at the bottom of the pot.
In construction, a stock pot is similar to a large sauce pot. A sauce pot is as tall vertically as the diameter of the bottom. Pots are measured by volume. The smaller the pot, the more likely it will have a single, much longer handle. Common pots are much larger with two handles on each side to use both hands to balance the weight of the pot. Storage pots are also measured by volume, usually 6 to 36 liters. The sides of a stock pot are at least as large as its diameter, allowing the stock to simmer for long periods of time. Broth is created by placing vegetables or meats in a large amount of water and simmering for a long period of time. Reducing the liquid creates a rich broth (vegetable or meat) that is used as a base for soups, stews, patties, and sauces. Some meats do not lend themselves well to broth like pork because of their fatty quality.
Some recommendations for a good broth is to start with cold water, add meat in a ratio of one part meat to two parts water, add the meat before the vegetables, simmer with bubbles just breaking the top (not boiling ), and the foam that reaches the top should be skimmed and discarded.