In depth ramblings about cooking, homekeeping, and whatever else I decide to write about.
Figuring out the difference between stock, broth, and bouillon can be confusing. When I was learning about cooking, I wondered: Is there even really a difference? Can you use them interchangeably? Are any of them worth making yourself? And, what in the heck is consomme?The good news is, they can all be used as a base for soups and stews (trust me, I’ve done it.) They really are all interchangeable, but won’t yield the same results in all cases (especially bouillon).
Here is where it gets tricky. There is no general agreement on the real difference. I have seen arguments about this topic all over the internet about this. From what I have gathered from professional sources here are the differences:
Stock is made mostly with bones, maybe a bit of meat, and in the case of chicken, some skin trimmings. People’s opinions vary over whether it is okay to add vegetable trimmings and seasonings. Stocks usually get gelatinous when you cool them. My crock pot chicken stock made from a leftover chicken carcass is a great example of a stock. Stock are great for stews, soups, and gravies.
Broth is usually made with meat and often uses no bones. Generally, broth will have vegetable trimmings and seasonings added. A good example of broth is when you make beef stew and you cover the meat with water. After you cook it for a while, the resulting liquid is a broth. After you thicken it, it becomes a gravy (the same goes with stock.) Also great for stews. soups, and gravies.
Bouillon, for all intents and purposes (in the U.S.) , is a powdered, crystallized, or dehydrated instant broth. You add water to it to reconstitute it. Bouillon has a lot more salt in it than stocks and broth. They also often have fillers and other flavorings added to them. Bouillon is great to use for emergencies, or where you only need a small amount in the dish. While I am all about boxed stock and broth, I get a bit food snobby about bouillon. I would not recommend using all bouillon for an entire pot of soup or stew. There is a great product that you can use in place of broth, stock, or bouillon if you are trying to be economical it is called Better than Bouillon by Superior Touch. I love this stuff. I keep it on hand and use it often.
Consomme is a broth that has been clarified using a complicate process that involves and egg somehow. Call me a redneck, but I don’t need me none of that.