Bowl of broth surrounding by garlic and carrots, overlayed with the title " Bone broth foodie trend or fad

Talking stock: is bone broth a foodie trend or fad

Bone broth. Two words that are unlikely to whet your appetite. 

But over the past few months, it’s been hard to ignore the countless influencers on social media bigging up its health benefits. This nutrient dense food/drink looks set to be one of the biggest and most influential food trends of 2019.

In the UK, we’re seeing it on an increasing number of restaurant menus — particularly trendy London eateries. But why has what seems at first glance to be simple meat stock become so huge? And should we really take it seriously?

How is bone broth made?

Though bone broth might be a hot 2019 food trend, as a concept, it’s nothing new. People have been making bone broth for centuries. Some claim that it dates back over 2,500 years.

You can make it with pretty much any animal bones — beef bones, chicken bones, marrow bones, whatever — which are then roasted and simmered for up to 24 hours with spices and herbs. Vegetables are often added to the mix. Many use a slow cooker. Some chefs roast for more or less time. But essentially, bone broth has been the base for soups for many years. As a chef, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about.

So why are we even discussing it? One of the main drivers of interest in bone broth is the apparent health benefits it apparently offers. But before we get to those, there’s one question that needs addressing first...

Isn’t bone broth just standard stock?

Though bone broth and stock may appear the same on the surface, they aren’t the same. Standard cooking times for stock tend to be less than six hours, whereas bone broth can be simmered for days. And because it takes much longer for the beneficial gelatin to be extracted to the bones, a standard stock doesn’t have the same health benefits as bone broth.Which brings us to the reason why bone broth is making such waves on social media. Its questionable health benefits..

Just how healthy is it?

Any claim that a food trend is the new health elixir should be taken with a huge pinch of the coarsest sea salt. 

Bone broth should be treated no different. But looking at the evidence, there are some reasons to believe that we’re talking about more than hype here. Drinking bone broth looks to have health benefits.

Bones might not look particularly nutritious, but according to some, they’re packed full of goodness. Rich in iron, Vitamins A and K, amino acids, selenium, zinc, manganese and good fatty acids, they’re a rich addition to any diet.

Of course, as humans, we won’t be chowing down on calf shins as a lunchtime snack anytime soon. But by boiling bones over a long period of time, we are left with a nutritious broth that can have a positive impact on our health.

Aside from the claimed nutritional value of bone broth, it can, according to some, have other benefits for our health. As an anti-inflammatory, it can help to solve digestive issues, healing the gut. There are other countless studies that indicate bone broth can help the entire body. From improving sleep to supporting weight loss, protecting joints to fighting osteoarthritis, it really does feel like there’s more to bone broth than social media hype.

Little wonder that it’s got so many chefs and food industry professionals simmering.Though there is much research which suggests that it has a positive impact on our health, others doubt whether this is the case. For instance, a recent article from the Center for Nutrition Studies states that “bone broth appears to be a poor source of nutrients and may, in fact, contain harmful components."

More research needs to be done to fully understand its impact, but as human beings who have eaten bone broth for centuries, it’s little surprise to see so many converts in our industry.

The restaurants and chefs serving up bone broth

Influencers are one thing. The restaurant industry is another. Today, we’re starting to see an increasing number of restaurants embracing this powerful broth. Some who specialise, some who have chosen to add it to their menus to keep up with consumer trends. 

Bone & Broth of London is a great place to start if you want to sample the very best bone broths in the UK. If you’re further afield, Barneys Bone Broth in New York is the home of the modern bone broth craze. Until recently, even the ubiquitous Pret a Manger stocked bone broth (though it’s since disappeared.)

As a chef, it shouldn’t be too hard to make your own, especially if you’re buying from sustainable butchers. But if you’re stuck for space, or don’t have the time, there are wholesale suppliers, such as Daylesford and Borough Broth Co who both provide organic and award-winning produce — both could be the centrepieces of a modern, healthy menu.

The recipes you need to know about

If you’re planning on adding this year's hottest meat trend to your menu, the chances are, you want to be a little more adventurous than serving up meaty water. I’m sure your customers would expect more. To help get your creative juices flowing, here are a few recipes we’ve found:

Poached eggs from Well Nourished

Chorizo and vegetable stew from Happy Body Formula

Cauliflower rice from Don’t Mess With Mama

Mocha fudge smoothie from Dr Axe

As always, for more on the latest developments in the world of food, stay tuned to the weekly Blue Arrow Catering Blog.

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