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Broth or Stock - Which will it be?


Wonder about the differences between stock and broth?

Many of us have been confused about the differences between stocks and broths. There is seemingly much debate over which is which and how each should be used. In addition, when a recipe calls for broth, does it really mean stock? Or vice versa? To make matters worse, the two words may have different meanings in various parts of the world.

While you can make your own conclusions about how you want to refer to stock or broth, here is what we believe is a somewhat clearer understanding of the two.

Broth

Broth, regardless of whether it is chicken, beef, or whatever, is a simmered liquid that results from the fleshy parts of the animal or bird. You may include some bones, vegetables, and seasonings, but the greatest ratio lies in the meat. To achieve a suitable broth, the parts need to simmer for about three hours.

After three hours, you'll have a suitable broth that should be strained, cooled, and refrigerated. Next, you'll need to skim the fat from the top. It should be a reasonably golden liquid that is now ready to add to any recipes that call for broth.

The bottom line: The meaty parts of an animal or bird make up the broth when simmered in liquid. The meat is then removed and consumed.

Stock

Stock is mainly comprised of bones with a lesser meat/flesh ratio. This leaches the gelatinous substances from the bones that produce a concentrated liquid that is much stronger than broth. Vegetables (usually onions, celery, and carrots) and seasonings are also added to enrich the flavors.

In fact, you can begin with a broth, simmer for three hours, remove the meat and return the contents to a full simmer. Alternatively, you can also reserve the bones, freeze, and create stock at a later time. All stocks must cook for at least six hours to gain the full flavor from the bones.

When done, strain, and refrigerate. The liquid will gradually turn to a gel. That is the sign of a good stock.

For stock or broth

In the first half hour or so of simmering either a broth or a stock, continuously skim the top to remove the proteins. This will also reduce some fat content.

If you are making a small amount for a specific recipe, go ahead and include whatever seasonings are desired. When making larger batches to freeze and use later, do not use seasonings - those can be added when you are preparing a specific recipe.

Freeze stock in smaller containers than broth - a little stock goes much further than a broth.

You can purchase broths at grocery stores, but will find better quality stock at specialty markets or at on-line retailers. Make sure you're getting true stock.

Do not keep stock or broth in the refrigerator for more than 3-4 days. Freeze as soon as possible for best freshness.

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