Stock vs. Broth?


Recently Jer shared a terrific post about making home made stock. I’m a big fan of making stock and have even taken a few turns at making rich meat stocks and even patiently reducing them to a demi-glace, (which I wouldn’t recommend you try unless you have hours to commit). But what about broth? What is the difference between a broth and stock?

A quick Google search confirms I am not the only food-wank who must’ve missed this lesson in home economics. A chef friend recently told me that “broth is stock fortified with meat then strained,” but is that entirely accurate? The stock I’ve been taught to make has meat and bones in it, along with vegetables and herbs of course. Both are similar in preparation and strained, but most of the recipes I’ve found for broth don’t seem to call for bones at all. So is that difference? Stock = bones & meat, and broth = meat & no bones? Sort of. But does it even matter?

Interestingly, this seems to be an issue of contention. Some claim it’s merely semantics and it doesn’t matter much, but I disagree. If you have equally good quality broth or stock at hand, chances are your recipe will likely turn out just fine, but a stock is darker and richer, therefore better suited as a base for sauces, glazes, or to enrich the falvour of a dish.

A broth, on the other hand, is a terrific start to a soup or anything requiring a “cleaner” flavour. Heck, you can make a broth out of many things—tomatos, peppers, mushrooms, and any kind of meat really. But while they are indeed fortified with meat and tend to be a little saltier, broths generally don’t start with roasted bones, so they lack the depth and richness a stock can offer as a base.

As they don’t have the “body” from the gelatin present from simmering fat and bones, a broth is more delicate and closer to a finished product—likely soup—than a stock, which you can simmer all the way down to a glaze—which, by the way, freezes quite well for future use as a quick way to jack up a sauce to serve with meat. Yum.

We tend to keep both stock and broth on hand when we haven’t made our own, but I guess the whole thing is the preference of the cook at the end of the day. So use what you want, but it’s good to know the difference.

On next week’s show: consomme! Just kidding.


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