What Exactly is Bone Broth?

Stocks, Broths and Super-Nutritious Bone Broth

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 28, 2017

Something unusual happened to stocks along the way as a base for soups, sauces, and stews. They evolved into a highly-prized health food and healthy-eating trend called bone broth.

What is the difference between stocks and broths? (Article continues below video.)

Video: How to Make Bone Broth (or Stock from Bones)

We’ve all heard of stocks and broths. Is there a difference? Although the terms are often interchanged, stocks and broths have distinct consistencies and flavours, and are generally cooked in different ways.


Thyme, parsley stems, peppercorns, roasted onions and carrots to add to broth.

Thyme, parsley stems, peppercorns, roasted onions and carrots to add to broth.

Broth is a flavourful liquid created by simmering meat, bones, and/or vegetables in water. Traditional broths can be either completely vegetarian, or based in meat or fish simmered with vegetables.

To make a meat broth, the chef browns whole pieces of meat (such as chicken, beef, pork), then adds roughly chopped vegetables, seasonings, herbs and water. The combination cooks for about 45 minutes to an hour. Once the meat has released its juices, the chef strains out the solids and cools and skims off the fat. The result is a light seasoned liquid, rich in flavour and protein. Broth is seasoned and can be eaten alone.


Bones for stock or bone broth

The best bones for stock and bone broth have sinew, ligaments and pourous surfaces. As the bones simmer, the connective tissue dissolves, adding a mineral-rich gelatin to the liquid.

Stock, on the other hand, is made from roasted animal bones as opposed to whole pieces of meat. Stock simmers longer than broth, creating a savoury liquid with more gelatin and a thicker consistency, Chefs typically leave stock unseasoned (or minimally seasoned) for use as a base in other recipes.

To make a traditional stock, the chef uses water and roasted chicken, beef or pork bones. Starting in cold water, the roasted bones simmer for three to four hours. As they cook, the connective tissue between the bones begins to dissolve, giving the stock a thick, gelatinous texture. After simmering, the chef removes the solids, cools the stock and and skims off the fat.

Bone Broth

Roasted bones for making bone broth.

Roasted beef bones for making bone broth.

Bone broth can be thought of as a hybrid of traditional stock and broth. Like stock, bone broth starts with roasted bones and water. This rich broth, however, has a much longer, slower cooking process. Bone broth needs to simmer for 16 to 24 hours to release the gelatin, minerals and nutrients from the bones. After this extended cooking, the chef removes the bones, cools the liquid, and skims off the hardened fat that forms at the top.

At this point the chef can consider the bone broth finished, or can decide to flavour it further. Borrowing from the conventions of traditional broth-making, the chef returns the long-simmered bone broth to a pot, adds vegetables, herbs and aromatics and cooks it at low heat for two to three hours more.

The result is a low-calorie, mineral-rich savoury liquid that not only can add depth and flavour to soups and sauces, but which also stands alone as a nutritious hot beverage.

Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth offers many nutritional benefits. Because of its extended cooking time which breaks down collagen, bone broth offers minerals in a form the body can easily absorb. Bone broth has also formed the centrepiece of a health trend of “detox” or partial fasting diets in recent years. Low calorie and sugar free, when used as a substitute for richer foods, bone broth brings the well-known advantages of consuming a light diet.

Bone broth is one of the latest examples of the continuing search for foods that contribute to health. As the ancient Greeks, the founders of the original Mediterranean diet advised, “Let food be your medicine.”

More about food & cooking:

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