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It’s winter(ish) here in Texas and my favorite time to make (and eat) soups. Since starting the keto diet almost a year ago, I try to squeeze every last bit of vitamins and nutrients from each meal where possible, and soup is one of those meals. Whether you’re on the keto diet or not, you have probably been hearing about bone broth lately. But what is bone broth?
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is simply a liquid obtained from boiling bones from chicken, turkey, pork or beef in water. Maybe you’ve heard it mentioned but aren’t quite sure what it is, or why it is highly praised by so many. A biggest difference between bone broth and regular stock is that bone broth is cooked a lot longer.
The end result is a great liquid that’s delicious on its own, but also makes a wonderful and nutritious base for soups and stews. Of course it’s also very tasty, but more on that in a minute. Speaking of nutrition, it’s one of the main reasons people make and consume bone broth regularly.
Why is Bone Broth So Good for You?
When you boil bones for a long period of time, you leach all sorts of nutrients, minerals and other things that are good for you like glucosamine and collagen. Sounds gross huh! It’s also good for your immune system.
Remember grandma making a big pot of chicken soup anytime someone would get sick? Think of bone broth as a more concentrated version of Grandma’s healing soup. The broth may even help you sleep better at night. Sip a cup of the tasty liquid before bed. It’ll work better than the hot milk your mom used to bring you.
So What is Bone Broth Exactly?
It can get a little confusing and many of the terms are used interchangeably. Let’s break down what they mean and how each type of liquid is prepared. Before we dive in, please be aware that there is no standard as to what is called stock and what’s called broth.
A recipe may call for beef stock or you may buy beef broth at the store. In those instances think of the terms interchangeably. In other words, if a recipe calls for chicken stock and all you can find is chicken broth, go with it. If you’re making it at home from scratch on the other hand, you can make true stock or broth.
Vegetable Broth Vs Vegetable Stock
First, let’s get vegetables out of the way. When it comes to vegetable broth and stock, they truly are the same thing. You’ll see in a moment that the difference between stock and broth has to do with meat and bones. Since neither are found in vegetable broth or stock, they are the same thing.
To make vegetable broth, you will simmer things like clery, onion, garlic, celery, broccoli etc. in a large pot of water. I’ve even seen where people add potatoes or sweet potatoes for extra body. **If you are on keto, don’t do this. Otherwise, you can use whatever you have on hand. Even scraps will work, which is how my grandma used to make it. Boil everything in water for an hour or until your broth has a good flavor. Strain and store.
Meat Broth Vs Meat Stock
Now let’s get to the meat and bones. We’re talking stock, broth and bone broth here. They can be made from chicken, turkey, beef, pork, etc. You can mix and match if you would like, but most of us will focus on one type of meat at a time to make chicken stock or beef broth for example. While I have switched them out when needed, you really can tell a slight difference.
Broth is usually a lighter liquid. To make it you boil bits of meat and sometimes bone along with some vegetables and herbs in water. Broth is only boiled for an hour or so and the finished liquid will remain liquid when cooled.
Stock on the other hand includes a lot more bone and cooks for at least a few hours. Meat and vegetables, herbs etc. are often included as well for more flavor. The longer cooking time allows things like cartilage and fat to dissolve into the broth. The end result is a liquid with a lot more flavor and body. It also tends to firm up (at least part of it) when cooled. Stock has more body and more nutrients.
The Difference with Bone Broth
Bone broth is actually more of a specialty type of stock. It is made mainly from bones without much meat left on them and vegetables are optional. Good bone broth has cooked for at least 24 hours and often apple cider vinegar is added to the pot to encourage more minerals to leach out into the broth. For more on the pros and cons of apple cider vinegar check this out.
How to Make Bone Broth
To make bone broth you take bones like those from that leftover chicken or turkey carcass sitting the fridge for example. Cover it with plenty of water and simmer for several hours. How long you cook your broth is up to you. 12 hours gives you a very decent broth, but cooking it even longer makes it even more nutritious. If you’re using the bones from a roasted chicken, consider tossing them in a large crock pot and making your broth right in there. They can safely bubble away as you go about your day. Check our more bone broth recipes here.
What to Do with Bone Broth?
Now, what do you do with your bone broth? You can drink the finished hot broth as is, season it up with your favorite herbs and spices, or use it to make a pot of soup or stew. Chicken and Dumplings is my go to when someone is sick. I whip up a Mexican Chicken Soup when I feel like something spicy, or use a beef bone broth in my spaghetti sauce and gumbo recipes.
The cooled broth can be stored in the fridge for about 4 days or in the freezer for up to a year. For more bone broth storage tips check this out.
The next time you pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or roast that Thanksgiving turkey, don’t toss out the bones when you’re done. Use them to make a batch of delicious bone broth that’s good for you. Once you try it, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to make and how truly wonderful it is.