When I was making bone broth regularly at home, it wasn't to sound trendy, it wasn't to fool anyone that I was doing something new and different, and it certainly wasn't to make something sound like it was something else for the sake of it. In fact, I don't think you can get more literal than calling it ‘bone broth'.
For me, bone broth has always been something different from stock, just as a consomme is different from a stock, or a soup is different from a puree. Bone broth has a different definition to me. Subtle, but different. ’24-hour slow-stock’ might be a more useful name, but it’s not exactly catchy.
So, when I’m asked what exactly bone broth is, I usually say something like:
'it lies somewhere between a soup and a stock, but you can drink it on its own. Imagine a stock, densely made up of bones and, in our case, additional organic vegetables, herbs and seasoning, but instead of cooking for a few hours on a hot simmer we slow cook it on a low temperature for 24 hours. This produces a very different product for us. In fact, ours comes out clarified like a consomme. Additionally, we use a LOT of bones, at least 40% in every recipe. Our aim is to extract the gelatine gently from the bones as well as produce amazing flavour.'
Not particularly eloquent, nor concise. But it’s the best I can do.
There's a great article in Epicurious where they confront the semantics of broth, stock and bone broth. And it explains the subtle differences:
Broth is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and meat, and can include some bones. It is cooked for a short period of time, usually 45 minutes to 2 hours, then strained and seasoned. The goal of broth is to use a combination of ingredients to create a light, flavorful liquid that can be enjoyed on its own as a soup (or soup base along with other ingredients). Broth usually stays fluid when chilled.
Stock is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and animal bones, sometimes roasted, and sometimes with some meat still attached. It is cooked for a medium period of time, usually 4 to 6 hours, then strained. It is usually not seasoned at this stage. The goal of stock is to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and bones being simmered, which give stock its thick, gelatinous quality. When chilled, good stock should have the texture and jiggle of Jell-O. Stock is not served on its own; rather, it's used to deglaze a pan, or as a base for a rich sauce or gravy. Stock is also a great binder to use instead of cream or butter, or used in a broth-like manner (just add some water to it).
Bone broth is really a hybrid of broth and stock. The base is more stock-like, as it is usually made from roasted bones, but there can sometimes be some meat still attached. It is cooked for a long period of time, often more than 24 hours, and the goal is to not only extract the gelatine from the bones, but also release the nutritious minerals. It is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own, like broth.' - Rhode Boone, Food Director Epicurious.com
For people who make bone broths themselves, or who come from a culture where bone broth is part of their daily diet, the term is nothing new. It's also not particularly trendy, in my opinion. I guess some might call it 'trendy' as it's recently taken on a life of its own. I put this down to the focus on gut health, the benefits of gelatine on the gut and the fact that it’s such a brilliantly easy and natural way to incorporate gelatine into the diet.
There are plenty of critics and food writers who have an issue with the term because they think it brings with it misinformation and pseudoscience. And perhaps they assume I/we/the community of people making and producing ‘bone broth’ are trying to rebrand something that is age-old. Which makes me really sad. The beauty of this product is that it is age-old and for many, broth or stock or whatever you want to call it, has been lost in most people's diets and we want to bring it back! The fact we say bone broth on our packaging is to define concisely that we don't just boil a load of bones for a few hours. It should explain the process, and the type of bones we use. But hopefully most people don't care too much about what it's actually called and understand it's a product that is both great to drink AND cook with.
So, on we go. My mission is to save more organic bones from incineration, use organic, British-grown wonky vegetables where possible, and work with farmers to make sustainable, ethical and delicious products with provenance. Now, who's with me?