Saturday, December 16, 2017

Chicken stock or what the cluck should I use.

Cooking for  small numbers can be a problem because of the large packaging everything comes in nowadays. Consider chicken stock: It is wasteful to open a 1-litre box of Campbell's chicken stock to use only 100 cc and with little chance of using the rest within the specified 14 days.

The best option seems to use stock cubes - but which ones?

I decided to put scientific method into domestic science. I investigated three sources of concentrated chicken stock (see picture).

#1 is Knorr powder. To get a cup of stock (250 cc) use a full teaspoon (5 g). The 150 g pot thus contains 30 cups' worth of powder. The cost is about $2.50 depending where you buy it, sales, etc.

#2 is a packet of 8 cubes also by Knorr. It is found in the Asian section (is it Halal??) of the supermarket and is significantly cheaper even at regular price than #3. Each cube is 10 g and will make 500 cc of stock. The cubes are not hermetically sealed in their wrapping and are easy to halve to make just one cup of stock. The list of contents on the back is for 5 g portion so I think Knorr expect you to use part of the cube only at a a time

#3 is a regular packet of chicken stock cubes. Note that there is only 6 of 10g cubes in this packet and the cheapest was at Wallmart for $1.96. Like #2 the cubes are easily split.

The list of contents is unremarkable except for the ton of sodium which one would expect. The most salty is #3 with 1080 mg of Na per 5 g. The other two are similar with 880 mg (#1) and 800 mg (#2) per 5 g.

I made a cup of stock with each and did a taste test (I wish I could have done it blind but it just was not practicable).

The #1 tasted most "chickeny". The #2 was close and the 3# was quite weak in comparison with the other two. Furthermore the 3# is far the most expensive producing only 12 cups for $2.

I could not explain the taste difference by the sodium content which was similar across the board, in fact the weakest contender had the most salt. All products were well within their expiry date (previously I did a test on expired cubes but that is another story!).

Thus I have no hesitation recommending the powder which in addition to its advantage in taste and cost is also easier to portion out (if you have a small digital scale, perhaps to weigh other products, you can be quite accurate and make smaller quantities than a whole cup. This is an advantage if making, say, Chinese stir-fry sauce.)

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, all products come with English and French instructions, this being Canada. The #1 comes with Chinese instructions, #2 in Arabic.

Chacun a son gout!

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