Now and then some new, perhaps revolutionary diet trend comes up and takes the world by storm. Bone broth is one of these many trends and has been quite a hot issue, no pun intended. Bone broth and its health benefits is a contentious issue as proponents claim it has great effects on your energy levels, hydration and nutrients. While it may provide some of these benefits the antagonists claim it is just good old soup and nothing more. So if you’ve ever wondered what people experience when they are drinking bone broth we have the answer for you. So what is Bone broth?
Bone broth is simply broth as we have always known it, animal bones that are boiled and seasoned, sometimes with herbs and spices but mostly with just salt. Broth is boiled for hours to extract collagen and marrow from the bones to flavour the broth. This sounds similar to stock but there are small differences between broth and stock that do count. Stock tends to use more bones than traditional broth and so has more gelatin making it thicker. Stock is normally left unseasoned or unsalted as this is added in the recipe that it is used in while broth is salted at least. So what we call bone broth is somewhere between stock and traditional broth. As for the school of thought that bone broth is just soup, they aren’t wrong. Broth is the same as soup especially when it is made with vegetables and herbs added and can be served as a standalone meal.
Amongst its health benefits, those who believe in it say it has many vitamins and nutrients including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The high levels of gelatin are used in the body to produce collagen which helps to protect the joints. Collagen can also help to fight against osteoarthritis. There is still a lot more people claim that bone broth can do including reducing inflammation in the body thanks to the amino acid glutamine. As if that wasn’t enough bone broth also helps with sleep quality thanks to glycine according to studies. Bone broth was documented in use in Chinese medicine as far back as 2500 years ago. It was heralded for its assistance with digestive health, its anti-inflammatory qualities and blood building ability. The formula has a had a recent resurgence in popularity and people are raring to try it. While the long list of health benefits is quite convincing for many that is a secondary matter to how bone broth tastes.
The first thing that a lot of people will tell you about the taste of the bone broth is that it is bland. Bone broth does not contain meat in its preparation therefore unlike traditional broth which does occasionally include some meat, bone broth is made from only bones. Sometimes you get some vegetables tossed in the mix and this can enhance the flavour a little. For the most part, bone broth is water that is lightly flavoured with the extract of bones. Don’t expect bone broth to bear the taste of the meat it is associated with.
Bone broth is not completely devoid of flavour, however. You may pick up a very light meatiness in its flavour. Of course, it’s perfectly normal for bones to have some meat attached to them and these will add some flavour in the long cooking process. The meatiness is so light that adding this broth to the recipe that uses another type of meat the broth’s meat flavour can easily go unnoticed. Traditional broths are made with meat in them but bone broth has very little.
This is something those opposed to bone broth refer to in jest. Bone broth has a salty taste. It is customary to add salt to bone broth as it helps activate the flavours in the broth. However, this is an issue that plagues bone broth particularly if you’re buying it ready-made off the shelf. While bone broth is only supposed to be lightly salted and almost always tastes so this doesn’t always speak to the sodium content as some of these ready-made broth recipes carry a lot of salt in them.
As we mentioned earlier bone broth is cooked over a long period and what happens is that connective tissue such as sinews and tendons along with joint tissue dissolve into the mixture. This is what gives the bone broth its thickness. This substance is known as gelatin and is largely tasteless. It does however contribute to the texture of bone broth which impacts how it feels as we ingest it. Gelatin is similar to jelly in texture when found in bone broth. It is very good at taking on the flavour of the dish it is cooked in.
Another important part of bones that gives a lot to the touted health benefits is marrow. Marrow also contributes to the flavour of bone broth. Marrow is not strongly flavoured in any animal. It is best described as being mild, warm and full in flavour. Marrow is more responsible for the meaty taste in bone broth than the meat itself hence the tendency for the meaty flavour to be very faint or somewhat distorted. Marrow has a full taste that is closer to the taste of an internal organ such as the liver than the taste of meat.
Whether you are a believer in bone broth or just want to find out what it’s like there’s not much to look forward to. You will get a bland low flavoured water-based mixture. There are small flavours of meat, gelatin and marrow to give it more body. Ultimately the taste of bone broth is nothing much to write home about.