Bone Broth has moved from culinary cornerstone to contemporary craze. Here’s everything you need to know, and how it’s different from stock.
About a decade ago, I started making my own chicken stock as a way to save money and to make the most of the roasted chicken I occasionally made. I thought nothing of the health benefits stock might bring, other than avoiding the cost, the packaging, and unknown quality of ingredients of store-bought broth. I was focusing simply on adding flavor to my soups and thrilled there was one more element of my meal that I could make myself.
Then a few years ago, I noticed that bone broth had become trendy: hipster restaurants selling it by the cup out of walk-up windows, cartons of it frozen in the fancy natural food stores. These broths were advertised as sipping broths or bone broths, magical elixirs of the newest superfood wellness trend.
Why on earth would you want to drink a cup of lightly-flavored yellow water? And why would you pay so much for it?
I shook my head at the stupid people. No way in hell was I going to be someone who gave into such trendy foolishness- drinking broth from mugs like a fancy cup of coffee. I had jars of my broth frozen in the freezer, destined for soup like broths were supposed to be.
But as time went on, and I learned more about how my ancestors cooked, and about cooking and nutrients in general, I started to understand. And, as the first onset of colds hit my house earlier this winter, I became one of those dreaded trendy people.
I became one of those people who drank bone broth.
What is Bone Broth?
While I originally thought of bone broths as something trendy, it’s a traditional method of cooking. For thousands of years, keepers of the home and the hearth took the scraps left from whatever was hunted or killed that day and added to a pot of water.
Bone Broth is the original soup, a basic element of cooking and eating.
Boiling the bones and joints from animals in water for hours makes the magical compounds and flavors in the marrow, cartilage, and the bones available to our bodies. Our ancestors may have not known the long scientific names, like glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans that bone broths contain, but they knew that the broth was vital to our health.
The benefits of bone broth are both immediate and long term. It has been shown to reduce inflammation (the cause of many diseases like cancer and heart disease), and the high dose of collagen it provides nourishes skin, hair, bones, and smoother joins. It’s even been noted to help mental conditions, like depression and ADHD.
The Difference Between Broth, Stock and Bone Broth
Some say that bone broth is just a fancy name for stock. And in the ancestral kitchens, or even the kitchen of a great-grandma of a hundred years ago, that would be correct- stock and broth are made from the same ingredients.
The word broth comes from the ancient German word Brühe, meaning “brew”. In the 18th century, the word stock was used to mean “broth made by boiling meat or vegetables”.
But, as our food supply has become commercialized and industrialized, the traditional broths transformed into something else. Standard commercial stock, bought in metal cans or cartons, is essentially chicken-flavored water, bought for the convenience factor, not for its nutrition.
Despite the name, the ingredients are all basically the same- bones, water, vegetables and maybe seasonings and spices. In modern times, the difference boils (get it- boils? ha! I crack myself up) to cooking times. Bone broth is simply a term coined as by artisan producers to set their nutritious product apart from the commercial broth makers. The majority of commercial broths are cooked for short amounts of time and at high temperature- extracting flavor, but not the nutrients.
The longer the bones cook, the more nutrient-rich the broth becomes. A “real” traditional broth is made from bones that have been simmered for hours, even days. This creates a liquid that has complexity, flavor, and deeply nourishing.
In their recipe for making bone broth, Home and Harrow share the following timeline, which is a simple way of understanding the difference:
Basic Broth: 2+ hours // Stock: 4-8 hours // Bone Broth: 10-24 hours+
An ancient South American proverb says “good broth can resurrect the dead”.
While achieving that level of magic in the kitchen for us everyday cooks might not be feasible, we can easily make up a batch of bone broth that our ancestors saw as a form of natural medicine- the nutrients extracted from the bones aid everything from building immunity, beating the common cold, to quickening recovery after an injury.
Which brings me back to my cup of sipping broth.
Since those first few batches of broth that I made when first learning to cook, my method has changed. I now focus on both flavor and nutrients. And while most of my broths are used in cooking, when suffering from a head cold, mugs of hot broth was one of the few things I was interested in consuming.
Along with my teas and other herbal practices, I’ve added regularly drinking broth into my winter wellness routine.
Ready to make your own? I have detailed guidelines over on this post!
Important to note!
Drinking broth isn’t magically going to change your life- it needs to be part of a well-balanced diet. A diet that is high in fast foods, carbs or unhealthy oils will negate any of the nutritional magic that broth brings to your body.
All information presented on this website and affiliated with Melissa Keyser & Quarter Moon Living is for ideas and education only. The information I provide is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Read the full disclosure here.