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In The Family
What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth?

And do they taste any different?

You may have heard of bone broth: a paleo-friendly super-solution of animal bones simmered in water for up to 2 days to make a collagen-rich drink. You may then ask yourself: isn’t this just a fancy word for stock, the kitchen-friendly extraordinary ingredient made by simmering animal bones in water for hours to make a gelatin-rich base for soups and sauces? Or is it just broth, the thing we use for soups and sometimes drink on its own, with bones thrown in?

Conventional wisdom suggests that stocks involve more bones and fewer aromatics, with the intention of further cooking, while broths are meatier and more flavorful, to use as a base for soup or cold-weather cure-all. But most stock bones have meat on them, and most pieces of meat used for broth are bone-in, rendering these distinctions ill-defined. The truth is there are no hard divisions marking where stock ends and broth begins.

As New Yorker food correspondent Helen Rosner mused in her newsletter, Helen: A Handbasket, “the difference between ‘stock’ and ‘broth’…is intention and nothing more. ‘Stock’ is golden meat tea that is being put to use as an ingredient in something else; ‘broth’ is that same golden meat tea, when it is rerouted from further cooking and put directly into your mouth.”

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.