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Sound Food Swap: Homemade vs Store Bought Stock

As the weather gets cooler, it’s common for our meals to tend toward the category of “comfort”. This often includes lots of soups and stews, sauces and gravies, and all around stick-to-the-ribs recipes.

Sound Food Swap: Homemade vs Store Bought Stock

As the weather gets cooler, it’s common for our meals to tend toward the category of “comfort”. This often includes lots of soups and stews, sauces and gravies, and all around stick-to-the-ribs recipes. Be it turkey gravy or matzo ball soup, these feel-good dishes commonly involve using stock – be it meat based or vegetable – as a vital ingredient. While these are relatively easy to find in the grocery store, their contents are frequently less than ideal.

Store-bought stocks can contain upwards of 30 different ingredients, few of them being real foods that you could find in your kitchen. Chemicals are added for a variety of reasons, such as to preserve, thicken, regulate acidity, prevent separation, and enhance the color and flavor, to name a few. Unsurprisingly, the result is a stock that tastes unnaturally sweet and chemically, a far cry from the clean essence of meat and vegetables.

Fortunately, making your own stock is easy, inexpensive, and makes your house smell amazing! Here’s a list of our sound food swaps to ditch the chemicals and embrace the flavor.

 

Swap 1: Water

 32-ounce store-bought vegetable stock: $2.49 (365 Organic Brand)

32-ounce water: $0.00

 Admittedly, this option won’t necessarily win in the flavor department. However, using water is a great, free way to avoid all of the additives of store bought stock. To compensate for the neutral taste, add more spices or aromatic vegetables to your recipe like onions, celery and carrot, or simply throw a bay leaf into the water to impart that subtle sweet and earthy note.

 

Swap 2: Homemade Vegetable Stock

32-ounce store-bought vegetable stock: $2.49 (365 Organic Brand)

32-ounce homemade stock: $0.00 – $1.68

One of our favorite hacks in the kitchen is to make stock from scratch using vegetable scraps. Simply keep a gallon Ziploc or compostable bag next to your cutting board while you prep, toss in vegetable odds and ends, keep the bag in the freezer until it’s full, and then cover the contents with water in a large stockpot, bring to a boil, simmer for an hour and – voila! – great tasting homemade stock. Scraps to include are onion and garlic peels, leek greens, fennel stalks, celery bulbs, carrot nubs, mushroom and herb stems, ginger, and potato pieces – feel free to get creative and thrifty! Dried fruit, spices, and sea vegetables, for example, can impart unique and bold flavors. Follow these five principles of vegetable stock to assure a great tasting broth every time.

 

Swap 3: Homemade Chicken Stock

 32-ounce store-bought chicken stock: $2.99 (365 Organic Brand)

32-ounce homemade chicken stock: $0.00 – $2.16

There are several ways to make good quality chicken stock without having to buy fresh chicken. If you ever buy rotisserie or whole fresh chickens from the grocery store, freeze the leftover carcass until you’re ready to make stock. If you’re short on freezer space, look for stewing hens in the freezer section of your local grocery – these are full birds specifically intended for making stock and sold at a fraction of the price of fresh meat. Put your chicken pieces in a stockpot, cover with water, add any vegetable scraps you have on hand, bring to a boil and simmer gently for 1 to 3 hours, skimming the surface occasionally of any foamy impurities that have risen to the top. Keep in mind that meat adds flavor and bones add body, so it’s best to use a combination of the two. While making chicken stock is fairly intuitive, it can be a daunting task if you’ve never tried it before. Here’s a recipe if you’re new to the process.

 

 

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