Traditional Foods 101: Bone Broth, Broth & Stocks

Bone broths are given special emphasis among traditional foods circles.  Preindustrial societies across the globe have always placed particular and special emphasis on the preparation of the whole animal – and that includes emphasis on using bones for making broth.  African tribes placed emphasis on bone broths for babies and small children.  In Asia, emphasis is placed on stocks and broths made from fish and fish bones.  In Europe, stocks and broths have become the foundation of cooking and are used in not only making soups and stews, but also for preparing reductions, sauces and for braising vegetables and meats.

bone brothwhat’s the difference between broth, stock and bone broth?

In traditional foods circles you’ll hear a lot about broth, stock and bone broth – and they’re typically used interchangeably.  Bone broth, broth and stock are built on the same basic foundation: water, meat or bones (or both), vegetables and seasonings.  As it cooks, the liquid is typically skimmed (although this is not necessary since the scum that rises to the top of the stock pot – off-putting as it is – is a rich source of amino acids) and eventually the solids are removed by straining the stock with a fine-mesh sieve or reusable coffee filter.

  • Broth is typically made with meat and can contain a small amount of bones (think of the bones in a fresh whole chicken).  Broth is typically simmered for a short period of time (45 minutes to 2 hours). It is very light in flavor, thin in texture and rich in protein.
  • Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat (think of the meat that adheres to a beef neck bone).  Often the bones are roasted before simmering them as this simple technique greatly improves the flavor.  Beef stocks, for example, can present a faint acrid flavor if the bones aren’t first roasted.  Stock is typically simmered for a moderate amount of time (3 to 4 hours).  Stock is rich in minerals and gelatin.
  • Bone Broth is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. As with stock, bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavor of the bone broth. Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long period of time (often in excess of 24 hours).  This long cooking time helps to remove as many minerals and nutrients as possible from the bones.  At the end of cooking, so many minerals have leached from the bones and into the broth that the bones crumble when pressed lightly between your thumb and forefinger.

why bone broths are good for you

Bone broths are extraordinarily rich in nutrients – particularly minerals and amino acids.  Bone broths are a good source of amino acids – particularly arginine, glycine and proline.  Glycine supports the bodies detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body.  Glycine also supports digestion and the secretion of gastric acids.  Proline, especially when paired with vitamin C, supports good skin health.  Bone broths are also rich in gelatin which improves collagen status, thus supporting skin health.  Gelatin also support digestive health which is why it plays a critical role in the GAPS diet.  And, lastly, if you’ve ever wondering why chicken soup is good for a cold, there’s science behind that, too.  Chicken stock inhibits neutrophil migration; that is, it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.  Pretty cool, huh?

Colorful Squash SoupBone Broths are Also Inexpensive and Very Convenient

Bone broths are easy to prepare at home, very inexpensive (the cost of bones is usually under $2/lb), and are very convenient and simple to make.

 

ready? start making bone broth today

Ready to start making bone broth?  Start with the recipes below, they all involve the long and slow cooking process that allows for the full release of nutrients – amino acids, gelatin and minerals – from the bones.

how to use bone broth

My husband and I aim to consume about one quart of bone broth per day, per person.  While we start every morning with a mug of broth seasoned with salt, pepper and crushed garlic, we also use bone broth to braise meats and vegetables as well as in soups, sauces and stews.

How to Store Bone Broth

Bone broth can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than a week.  You can also freeze it in ice cube trays, and transfer the frozen cubes of broth to a resealable freezer bag where they will keep for 6 months.  Alternatively, consider making Homemade Bouillon.

get started on bone broth with these resources

Typically, all you need to prepare bone broth in your kitchen is a good stock pot or a 6-quart slow cooker and something for straining the broth.  To prepare a very clear broth, I recommend straining with a very fine-mesh sieve or a reusable coffee filter (using both in conjunction yields the finest results).