Food

What the heck is bone broth? We explore the new trend

Sippable bone broth — yes, broth you drink straight up, from a cup — has long been popular among paleo diet enthusiasts, but it’s suddenly going mainstream.

A few weeks ago, celebrity chef Marco Canora opened a takeout window in New York City devoted to selling cups of the steaming broth, which start at $4 for an 8-ounce cup. And just last month, Oregon-based Pacific Foods released a line of bone broths at grocery stores nationwide. 

Don’t worry: Sipping a cup of bone broth is not like downing a can of chicken stock. Its flavor is more complex, thanks to additions like ginger, apple cider vinegar and herbs.

Anna Hoychuk / Today

But what is bone broth, exactly? 

It’s based on the traditional, ancient way of making broth: boiling animal bones. (Not all store-bought stocks and broths are made this way; in fact, many aren’t. Read the back of the label on many canned broths, and you’ll see lots of salt, vegetable juice concentrates and chicken fat.)

Today

Bone broth calls for a greater number of birds (or beef parts) than traditional stock, though, which increases the protein content, explains Ben Hummel, a brand manager for Pacific Foods. For example, a batch of one of Canora’s broths calls for two turkeys, 40 pounds of beef shin and 15 hens, all cooked in a massive stockpot. After a serious simmer — as long as 24 hours — the collagen and connective tissue break down, helping boost the protein also, explains Hummel. “It takes many hours of simmering to break the connective tissues down into useable form, but the result is a broth with a high amount of bioavailable protein,” he says, adding that Pacific’s bone broths have as much as nine times more protein than traditional store-bought ones. 

Aside from the protein, fans are drawn to bone broth’s purported healing properties; its minerals are thought to help ease joint pain and digestive issues.

Canora, who started drinking bone broth to combat the health effects of “20 years of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol,” told TODAY.com that customers have been reacting to the flavor with “over-the-top enthusiasm.” The chef, who also has a new cookbook, “A Good Food Day,” coming out this month, credits pure, back-to-basics ingredients like bone broth for helping him slim down and feel more energetic — without calorie-counting.

At Brodo, you can get chicken, gingered beef or the Hearth broth, made with chicken, turkey and beef, and add-in items like chili oil, fermented beet juice or mushroom tea, for an extra flavor boost. But please don’t ask for noodles: Adding carbs would defeat the purpose and take away from the detoxifying effect you get from the broths, the chef says. “You need to sip it as a beverage.”

In addition to plain chicken and turkey, Pacific Foods offers lemongrass and ginger flavors in its grocery line, as well a rosemary, sage and thyme version, which tastes like Thanksgiving in a cup (from $1.79 for 8 ounces, at grocery stores).

Want to try the trend at home? The New York Times has a bone broth recipe.

TOP