Isn't bone broth just stock for hipsters?

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This is a fair question. It really is. And here’s why: strictly speaking in terms of classical cuisine, stock is made with animal bones, and broth is made with meat instead of bones. So...bone broth is a paradoxical name for fundamentalists. There’s so much confusion about this question that I thought it warranted its own little place on the blog. To be clear, I actually don’t know how everyone in the world makes bone broth since it’s not as clearly defined a process as classical stock-making. So, my comparison between bone broth and stock in this piece refers only to the bone broth that we make at Bavette. But, when it comes down to it, there are significant differences between how and why we make stock, and how and why we make bone broth.

When chefs make stock, they choose to make either brown or white stock. Brown stock uses roasted bones, tomato paste, and caramelized mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots), while white stock uses unroasted bones, uncooked mirepoix, and skips the tomato paste. A broth, by contrast, is made by gently simmering the meat with mirepoix and perhaps some other seasonings. A few important things about stocks and broths:

  1. They’re generally unseasoned or only seasoned very lightly, as they generally serve as a base for other dishes and will be seasoned later on in the process.
  2. Clarity of a stock and broth is important, meaning they shouldn’t be cloudy when properly made.
  3. Stocks are generally cooked for between four and eight hours, and broths for a significantly shorter amount of time.
  4. Stocks are generally jiggly or jello-like when chilled, where broths are liquid.

When we make our bone broth at Bavette, we generally roast the bones but not the vegetables, we never add tomato paste, and we generally add a little bit of apple cider vinegar, as it’s thought to help extract some of the nutrients from the bones. Here are some of the other major things that differentiate our bone broth from our stocks:

  1. For us, clarity does not matter. The broth is intended to sip on it’s own or use as a base in a soup, so we generally season it much more than we would a stock.
  2. We cook our bone broth for 24 hours. It’s not generally proven that this does indeed correlate with increased minerals and collagen breakdown in the broth, but it’s thought to have this effect. The cooking time also yields a deep color and deep flavor that might be too much for a classical stock.
  3. We use both meaty bones and meat scraps in our bone broths. So, they are indeed a combination of stock and broth. This yields a richer flavor and a more distinct gel when chilled.

For me, the difference boils down (get it?) to the intention and the execution. Stock is intended to serve as a base for other preparations and has a set method for its preparation.Broth is intended to be seasoned and sipped or used as a base for a soup. Bone broth, on the other hand, is intended to be a nutritional supplement, is usually sipped on its own or in a soup, is cooked for a longer time, and often contains ingredients that are not traditional to classical stock.

Does that clear up the confusion? Do you feel like bone broth and stock are still the same thing? Either way, let me know in the comments below! AND if you like what you're reading here, don't miss my email newsletter! It's packed with more stuff just like this- sign up here.