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Sep 12, 2008 04:26 PM

Stock versus Broth

This may possibly be a pretty stupid question but I'm honestly stumped on this one....

I've perused many cookbooks/websites etc can't seem to find any discernible difference in preparation of the two.

Obviously broth is lighter and stock is deeper and richer.

So the question is, which came first, the broth or the stock?

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  1. Broth is generally made by boiling meat while stock is made by boiling the bones and has to be coocked longer.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Bryson

      that was my first inclination but after researching (ok, I admit chicken only) but the stock and broth recipes both call for bones, hence my confusion!

      1. re: chicaraleigh

        The wiki entry for broth says:
        "U.S. culinary schools often differentiate between broth, usually made from viable portions of animal meat, and stock, which may be less palatable, often made from vegetable scraps and bones."
        But the rest of the article makes it clear that there is a lot of overlap between the two terms, and you really need to pay attention to context to determine how the words are being used.

        Why are you asking? Some context might generate more useful answers.

        1. re: paulj

          It really was just a random thought that occurred to me partially because I'm planning on making a couple of batches of stock this weekend (gumbo on Sunday!) and partly because I was in the soup aisles yesterday and saw rows and rows of "broth" and rows and rows of "stock".

          So in true OCD fashion, it started pestering me so I went in search of the answer and found that I don't see any discernible difference in ingredients or prep.

          My stock recipe includes a whole chicken, vegetables & seasoning - am I making stock or am I making broth?

          1. re: chicaraleigh

            Restaurants use stock, home cooks use broth. I know that sounds stupid, but the reality is that this is the new, de facto definition. It's more a matter of semantics. The above is technically correct, though: a stock is bones and a broth meat. Broth can be eaten on its own, whereas stock would not be very tasty. Broth is often fortified stock.

            1. re: almansa

              I am a home cook and I use both. I used to cook in a restaurant and we used both. It is not just a semantic difference. They are indeed similar, but definitely different. Use stock as a base for sauces, glazes, or to enrich the flavor of a dish. Use broth for soups or other preparations where you want a clean flavor. Broths can be made out of anything, I've had tomato broth, red pepper broth, and salami broth at restaurants recently.

              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                thanks Shane, and I agree that they are different but what I can't figure out is what makes them different? I see the difference in the end result.....meaning stock - richer/deeper, broth - lighter in flavor and color

                What I haven't been able to figure out is where the fork in the road in in prep - both call for the same ingredients, same cooking time, etc - I am referring primarily to chicken stock & broth in this particular case

                BTW - my pot of water, boiled chicken and vegetables is looking, tasting and smelling mighty good right now......

                1. re: chicaraleigh

                  IME stock is reduced to concentrate the flavor, while broth is more soup-like and palatable as is. And then there's consomme, which has gone through a refining process to clear it and (I think) lies in between broth and stock. It's more concentrated than broth in flavor but still lighter than stock and served as a soup course.

                  And I agree with fmed, stock generally has no or extremely little salt since it will be used to make other things.

              2. re: almansa

                I make stock all the time in my crockpot using the carcasses from chickens and bone-in chicken breasts. Quite frankly, I find stock much more flavorful than broth. As Shane said - broth is better for soups for a cleaner taste, whereas stock is used for a fuller flavor.

                Oh - and I don't boil. Just a very, very low simmer in my crockpot. Less scum on top.

              3. re: chicaraleigh

                I don't usually buy stock or broth, except for the 'bases'. But I did recently get a couple of cans of Swanson 'Chicken broth' from the outlet grocery. Guess what the first ingredient is? 'Chicken stock' :)

                But usage in commercial canned products does not have to match that of restaurant kitchens, nor that home oriented cookbooks.

        2. FWIW, I think that the difference is the amount of salt - broth has salt and stock has none or very little. Thus - you can make broth using stock but not the other way around.

          1. I think there was once a real difference. According to my dated copy of Food Lovers Companian, broth is a liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat or fish in water. The term is used synonymously with bouillon
            They say stock: In the most basic terms, stock is the strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fishand other seasoning ingredients in water. A brown stock is made by browning bones and the ingredients before they are cooked in the water.
            So, if you can't tell the difference you are not alone.

            1 Reply
            1. re: The Old Gal

              So in the restaurant context, stock probably comes from the 'stock' pot simmering on the back burner, that has received all sorts of vegetable and meat trimmings. Some even have perpetual stock pots brewing. It is ladled out as needed to enhance or enrich gravies or soups. A broth is more likely to be 'brewed' with a specific purpose in mind, with distinct flavors and ingredients. As such, it is closer to the finished product. A stock probably has more body from gelatin in the bones and skin (esp. hocks and feet). It may even be the source for this ingredient in a broth.