What's The Difference: Stock Vs. Broth

One ingredient makes one more flavorful than the other.

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

When you start cooking, you may be required to add a liquid ingredient called a broth or a stock. For many, this is the same thing. A broth, just like a stock, is in the simplest terms a liquid that is made by simmering flavorful ingredients to extract the flavors from it and transfer it to the liquid. 

The liquid is commonly plain water and the ingredients are aromatic and flavorful vegetables. This could mean onions, carrots, and celery, the French culinary trinity. Spices and herbs such as the stems of parsley, thyme twigs, and whole peppercorns are also commonly added to give the water more flavor.

The main ingredient that makes this kind of soup flavorful and different is the kind of meat used. The meat and the bones are simmered in the water long enough so that water is basically infused with the flavor of the meat. The bones are commonly part of the meat but it is also an essential part of the flavoring process. This can be chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and even no meat for a vegetarian-friendly soup.

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However, a broth is not a stock and vice versa. What makes stock different? 

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A stock is made by simmering bones. A broth is made from meat. 

A stock, in the culinary world, is commonly made with bones. A popular and flavorful way of making bones more flavorful is by browning the bones. When stock is made using browned bones, this is called brown stock.

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To brown bones for stock, the raw bones are usually fried or roasted in the oven until charred. Oven roasting is the more common way of doing this since it frees up the stove for other tasks and the oven can easily brown those bones with little supervision. The bones are also usually accompanied by roughly cut-up chunks of carrots and onions, which also develop delicious flavor when roasted in this way. 

All these roasted pieces of food are placed in a stockpot, covered with enough water to cover, and then left to simmer. It's the charred pieces that give brown stock its characteristic brown color. 

A broth meanwhile is usually made from meat. This is one of the reasons why broths are more expensive to make than stock since bones are usually more affordable (and the inedible) pieces. Those granules and cubes are stock granules and cubes, not broth granules and cubes. 

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This difference is why a nilaga tastes different from bulalo. 

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