If you keep up with news in the culinary world, you know that bone broth is really having a moment right there. In food publications, its nourishing, restorative properties are being touted, and it’s showing up on menus across the country, and even having whole restaurants opened in its honor, in some cases.
But what’s the big deal about bone broth anyway? Why is it so popular right now, while regular stock is still just as thankless an ingredient as always? It has to do with the longer simmering time, which allows nutrients and minerals to be released from the bones into the liquid, ready to bring all their benefits to your immune system. And maybe a little bit to do with it being delicious, too.
What Is Bone Broth?
Much like the name sounds, it’s the broth that’s created after you boil animal bones in water, typically with aromatics and herbs added. The bones can be from any animal, from turkey to pork to beef to venison, if you have those lying around, and they are generally roasted first before being put into the water, to improve the depth of flavor.
Bone broth requires a long time to cook—up to 24 hours of simmering—so it’s a time-intensive proposition. But it’s also entirely worth it, because at the end, you’re left with a thick, mineral-rich broth that’s as satisfying as it is warming.
How Is It Different Than Stock?
There is some disagreement on this count, as far as how bone broth differs from regular broth and stock, but the general idea is this:
Stock is sometimes made with meat and can contain bones, but because of its light flavor, needs to be simmered for a relatively short time—just 45 minutes to two hours. Comparatively, broth needs to be cooked for longer—three to four hours—in order to get the bones cooked in it to release their gelatin. And finally, bone broth needs to be cooked the longest of all—up to 24 hours, as we mentioned above.
The purpose of such a long simmering time is to get the same gelatin out of the joints that you’d see in a basic broth, but also to leach the minerals out of the bones themselves. By the time a bone broth is done cooking, the bones should crumble when you apply gentle pressure.
What Makes It Special?
A large part of why bone broth is so popular right now is because it adheres to the current trend of nose to tail cooking, or using the whole animal. Common belief is that when we introduce every element of the animal back into our diet, we get nutrients that we would have missed out on had the bones simply been discarded.
Because of the gelatin and various minerals like glycine and proline released by the simmering process, experts have claimed a whole host of benefits that you can gain from eating bone broth. They range from improved skin health, boosting our body’s detox process, as well as gastric and digestive health, and minimizing the symptoms of your cold or flu.
Is All That True?
Maybe not. Perhaps understandably, with the amount of press it’s been getting and the existence of good old regular broth and stock, many say that bone broth is just a fad—and far from the cure-all everyone makes it out to be. Regardless, it’s still a delicious, cost-efficient dish to make, because not only does it give you a use for parts of the animal you might have otherwise discarded, but if you want to go out and buy them separately, bones are a very cheap ingredient.
So whether bone broth can cure your cold or just your hunger, we recommend you try it out at a restaurant or at home to get all the tasty benefits it can offer you.