The Difference Between Stock and Broth

What’s the difference between stock and broth? Are they interchangeable? What are the ingredients? We tell all.

*We can’t be the only ones who’ve wondered what the difference is between stock and broth. It’s confusing, is it not?! The terms have been bandied about seemingly interchangeably for decades, and to make matters more confounding, there’s now bone broth to contend with in terms of what the heck it is. And can you use broth instead of stock. And we find the answer is as murky as a stock or broth or bone broth that’s been brought to a boil. We found the below excerpt from Bone Deep Broth to be a pretty darn understandable articulation of the attributes of each type of liquid loveliness. This post has been updated. Originally published February 18, 2016. – Renee Schettler Rossi**

We’re often asked what the difference is between broth, stock, and bone broth, and there is no exact answer. Different books, blogs, and articles have different views on the meaning of each. Culinary experts tend to say that stock is made with bones and water only and minimally seasoned for use in the preparation of soups, stews, and sauces. They state that stocks are gelatinous and impart a fuller mouthfeel because of the cartilage and connective tissues attached to the bones, making stock perfect for adding texture and richness to dishes. They call broth, on the other hand, a preparation of water, meat, vegetables, aromatics, and seasonings. These broths are flavorful and may be consumed on their own. They are usually clear and not necessarily gelatinous. Most people use both terms interchangeably. The bone broth that has gained attention in health-minded circles is a combination of all of these with meaty bones for flavor and nutrition—rich in gelatin for its health benefits, with vinegar for optimal extraction of nutrients from the bones, and with seasonings and aromatics to make the broth delicious and easy to drink on its own.

[Editor’s Note: Still a little confused? We understand. When conducting our due diligence in researching this topic, most authorities tended to concur that, as explained above, stock tends to be prepared with more bones, requires a longer simmer, and ends up more gelatinous compared to broth. Bone broth, for most intents and purposes, is sort of an amalgam of stock and broth. And bear in mind, it’s not that any one sort is better than another. They’re just different. Wherever your preferred technique for the long, slow extraction of minerals and nutrients from meaty bones, consider this an excuse to go make some. ...]

*Stock or broth turns cloudy when it is permitted to come to a rolling boil. This is because the vibrations emulsify the protein molecules with the water molecules, which results in an irreversibly cloudy liquid. For crystal clear stock, keep the stock at a bare simmer with only an occasional bubble percolating to the surface.

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