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Stock Cubes: What Are They Really Made of?

If you’re making a soup, a stew, a sauce, a casserole or even a stir fry, you might find stock cubes or broth mentioned in the recipe. If so, you might be interested in finding out what they contain. You might need to add a chicken or fish or beef stock cube, or maybe a vegetable one to your creation. Each will have slightly different ingredients, but these dehydrated stock cubes all typically contain a base of several ingredients.

Ingredients

As well as the main ingredient, you can also expect meat stock, a portion of fat, MSG, salt and seasonings shaped into a small cube. You can also buy vegetarian and vegan stock cubes. As with all stock cubes, they’re also available in granular, powdered or liquid forms.

How are stock cubes made?

Stock cubes aren’t made by drying out stock. That’s a common misconception. They’re made by mixing dry ingredients into a paste. These ingredients are batch mixed and left to mature. After some time, they’re shaped into a cube.

How are they used in cooking?

There are several ways they can be using while cooking. You can dissolve a cube into boiling water and then add that to your dish. The recipe might call for you to add the cube directly to the dish, or to mix it with a little olive oil to form a paste that’s rubbed into the meat.

Are they healthy?

Now you know what’s in them, you might be asking if they’re healthy or not. The broth they create is low in calories, but stock cubes contain salt, so ultimately, they’re not good for you. Some artificial ingredients are found in shop-bought cubes which can help cause high blood pressure. In turn, that increases the chance of heart disease, kidney disease and strokes.

Homemade stock

Homemade stock is far healthier for you. Follow the recipe below for chicken stock, and you’ll have a healthier stock that’s easy to make. It’s made from leftovers, but it takes a couple of hours to cook. You need the following ingredients:

One chicken carcass (leftover from a roast chicken dinner)

One large onion, unpeeled and cut in wedges

One stick celery, halved lengthways

One large carrot, quartered lengthways

One leek, roughly chopped

One medium potato, quartered

One bay leaf

One sprig of parsley or parsley stalks

Three black peppercorns

Three litres water

Place all of the above ingredients into a pot. Bring that to the boil and then reduce to the heat and allow to simmer. Add the lid and leave for one and a half hours. Once that’s done, take the lid off and break the chicken carcass into small pieces. Then leave for another 30 minutes. After two hours of cooking time, strain the pot, allow the contents to cool and then put into the fridge overnight. You’ll have approximately one and a half litres of stock. The next day, skim the fat off the surface, and your stock is ready to use. You could divide into portions and freeze if you’d like to keep it for a while.

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