Wendyl Wants to Know: Taking stock for winter's comfort foods
Continental Stock Pot Chicken $4.99 for 112g (makes 8 cups)
In winter we tend to cook casseroles and soups to satisfy the demand for comfort food, and the main ingredient for these dishes is stock. Last year I analysed Maggi Beef Stock Powder and discovered only 1.5per cent was actually beef along with 16 other ingredients. Real stock is also available but when your recipe calls for 2 litres it can get quite pricey at $4.83 a litre so stock powder works out better on a budget at just 80c a litre. This new arrival works out at about $2.50 a litre as well as being a concentrate which takes up less room on your shelves. It has 67per cent real chicken in it, compared to 97per cent for real stock and 8 per cent for the stock powder.
Concentrated chicken stock (67 per cent) vegetables (onion, carrot, garlic) water, chicken, herbs, spices) This will be stock as you would make it at home. So it is good to know that most of this product is simply that stock dehydrated.
Salt The level of sodium per cup of this product is quite high at 1130mg, equivalent to about half a teaspoon of salt. This is a similar level to the real stock (although you can get a reduced salt version) but the powder was much lower at 835mg. Most people should aim to eat between 920 and 1600 mg of sodium a day.
Flavours (contains wheat) These will be artificial otherwise on the label where it says "no artificial colours or preservatives" it would also include flavours. It's a shame this is included in what is otherwise a very natural product.
Sugar This will be in here for flavour.
Vegetable fat Normally this would be described as vegetable oil in ingredients panels but a vegetable fat means it is solid at room temperature. Both coconut oil and palm oil are semi-solid at room temperature. This product has the highest fat content when compared to the real stock and the stock powder but it is still quite low at 0.6g a cup.
Yeast extract This is similar to Marmite or Vegemite and is found in all supermarket stock products I looked at.
Thickeners (xanthan gum, locust bean gum) These are both natural vegetable gums used in here as thickeners. Some people find too muchlocust bean gum can cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea but in this small quantity it shouldn't do any harm.
Natural colour (carotene) This is a natural orange colour found in carrots and other fruits and vegetables.
It's hard to get away from salt when you are looking at a stock which is used essentially to flavour soups and casseroles. However, half a teaspoon of salt in one cup is quite a lot, so you definitely wouldn't want to add any more salt to the dish you are cooking. I think this product is a good compromise between using a stock powder which has very little real chicken in it and going to the expense of using commercially prepared real stock. It has no artificial colours or preservatives, but it does still have artificial flavour. It is really easy to make your own stock while you watch TV in the evenings and you are eliminating eight ingredients. Save up leftover carcasses from roast chicken in your freezer or buy them fresh. Then simply boil with carrots, onions, celery, a big pot of water and a bay leaf for a few hours. Strain and keep in the fridge or freeze it until you need it.
Highlights * Unlike stock powder which is only 8per cent real chicken, this has 67 per cent chicken in it. * Has tsp of salt per cup. * Has nine ingredients compared with 14 for stock powder and five for real stock.